LSU's Thomas returns to practice despite sore ankle

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Tyrus Thomas was back on the court as LSU began practice for the first game in the NCAA Tournament -- but not for long.

Thomas, who was averaging 12.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and a Southeastern Conference-best 3.0 blocks shots per game before suffering a high right ankle sprain, had been resting the injury since Feb. 25.

At his first practice on Monday, Thomas left the court after a handful of routine fundamentals drills. He later shot baskets by himself for about an hour and then went for X-rays.

"It got sore real quick and I thought it was something worse than it really was," said Thomas, the SEC Freshman of the Year and Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year. "The X-rays were negative, and the doctor told me I'm just going to have to play through the soreness. I was just being a little cautious, but it's looking good for me to be ready to go Thursday."

LSU (23-8) meets Iona (23-7) on Thursday in the first round of the Atlanta Regional.

"We still think Tyrus will be ready to go," LSU coach John Brady said. "He did all he could do and he felt a little pain, which is going to happen. He took himself out of contact and he'll come back and try to go a little longer."

Getting back to his pre-injury status will be hard, Thomas acknowledged.

"Besides the physical pain, it's also going to be a mental challenge for me to come out and fight through how it feels every day," Thomas said.