by SouthOfSouthJanuary 31, 2014 9:27 AM
Who: LSU Tigers vs Arkansas Razorbacks
When: Saturday, February 1 - 4:00pm
Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center (13,215 - 46 NCAA)
How: TV:ESPNU, Radio:98.1FM, Stream:ESPN3.com
After LSU's most impressive win of the season, it looks like they are back in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament. WooHoo! ESPN had them as the first 4 to miss the tournament which means they are in striking distance. Saturday, they have a formidable opponent come in to the Assembly Center for an afternoon bubble battle.
Arkansas dons some impressive victories this year. They have 4 top 50 wins and gave Florida their toughest SEC test losing by 2 in overtime. However, they have struggled on the road. Under Mike Anderson they only have 3 wins away from home in this his third year with the Razorbacks. The way they win is obvious; turnovers.
On offense, they lead the SEC turning it over on only 15.5% of their possessions. On defense, they lead the SEC in forcing turnovers forcing 22.4% of opponent possession to end in a turnover. That's a 5 turnover gap per game (12 vs 17). They force these turnovers with a full court press and a ton of depth. They will consistently go 10-11 deep and throw out a "40 minutes of hell" press to keep opponents out of rhythm.
LSU has played relatively well against presses, however, turnovers have been an issue for the Tigers. They currently average turning it over on 18.4% of possessions in SEC play (9th out of 14 SEC teams). Most of that comes from LSU's post players. Anthony Hickey leads the SEC in Assist to Turnover ratio with an impressive 3.32 ratio. No SEC player has ended a season better than 3.14 in the past 12 years. Andre Stringer sits at a 2.4 A:TO which is good enough for 3rd in the SEC. Those two will be important in beating Arkansas' press.
LSU has also been very good at getting steals and blocks. They lead the SEC in both categories in SEC games. They block 18.1% of two point attempts (2.1% better than 2nd place) and steal 13.4% of opponent possessions (0.9% better than 2nd place). While Arkansas' turnover % is better, LSU's steal % leads to more fast breaks and easy scoring opportunities.
Keys to the Game:
Turnovers: I've already covered this pretty thoroughly, but to reiterate the point, LSU cannot allow Arkansas to force LSU out of too many opportunities. LSU could really use some easy baskets in transition after steals and blocks.
Deep Shooting: Arkansas shoots three's at a 36.5% mark. They have 6 players shooting 40% or better in Madden (34/72), Clarke (10/23), Gulley (15/36), Kingsley (1/2), Haydar (20/40), and Wade (6/15). LSU only has 3 players shooting over 40% in Johnny O'Bryant (1/1), Andre Stringer (39/96), and Darcy Malone (2/5).
Rebounding: LSU has been their best when being a good rebounding team. It has to be a team effort in grabbing boards for LSU to play their best basketball.
LSU getting the ball inside: The Tigers cannot settle for three's this game. They have an obvious advantage inside and they need to take advantage.
LSU could run away with this one if they are able to beat the press. LSU has the athleticism to finish around the rim as well as a couple really good shooters in transition. LSU cannot settle for jumpers in their offensive sets.
LSU 88, Arkansas 75
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