LSU Tigers ( 9-2) vs Rhode Island Rams (8-6) When:
Saturday, January 4th 4:30pm Where:
PMAC (Baton Rouge, 13,215, 47th NCAA) How:
TV: CST, Radio: 100.7, Stream: GeauxZone & ESPN3.com ****Note: Game will be on the radio on 100.7 due to Saints pre-game being aired on 98.1FM****
LSU enters their final out of conference game in great position. They have won their last 5 games and 9 out of their last 10. This is the final prep game before LSU's HUGE matchup with Tennessee on Tuesday January 7th (PLEASE MAKE PLANS TO BE IN BR FOR 6:00PM TUESDAY).
LSU has held 9 of its 11 opponents to less than 1 point per possession this year. This is mostly due to holding their opponents to a meager 39.6% shooting percentage from inside the arc (4th NCAA). However, they are also holding opponents to just 29.3% shooting from three point land (33rd NCAA).
They have also shot free throws better as of late. In their last game they made 23/28 (82.1%), and 70.6% against UAB. They have also been able to make their three pointers recently. They have hit 27/61 (44.3%) in their last 3 games.
Rhode Island comes into this game with only 1 win over a top 200 team (Brown 191), however they have played George Mason (61-54), Providence (50-49), and Detroit (70-68) very close and were almost able to squeak out wins. They haven't shot very well, but have managed to get to the free throw line at a very impressive rate.
LSU needs to stay out of foul trouble against a team that has made a living by getting to the line. They have forced 6 players to foul out and many, many more into 4 fouls.
While they aren't a huge team, they rebound relatively well and do not allow a ton of assists. Their assist per basket given up ratio is 15th lowest in the NCAA.
Rhode Island's tempo has been about 2 possessions slower per game. When LSU has faced slower paced teams, they have used their press to make opponents uncomfortable. Look for LSU possibly utilizing their 3/4 court trap if the game stays close.
The keys to this game are simple. Get better. The Tigers need to continue to improve their free throw shooting as well as their shooting from behind the arc. That means getting the ball into Shavon Coleman's hands in the corner. He is currently hitting 44.8% of his three pointers.
LSU needs to also limit turnovers by the post players. O'Bryant and Mickey only had 5 turnovers combined last game, which is an improvement, but they need to continue to work on protecting the basketball.
Finally, LSU needs to start seeing crowd support. Football season is over. You can turn your attention to this basketball team. If you can't be there in person, at least watch this team play on TV. They are worth your time. Prediction:
LSU 75 - Rhode Island 60