LSU Tigers vs Kentucky Wildcats When:
3pm Saturday, Jan 26 Where:
Kentucky's Rupp Arena (23,000, 2nd largest NCAA) How:
TV: SECN, CBS
Radio: 98.1FM, 199XM, 123 Sirius
LSU (10-6,1-4) takes on the Kentucky Wildcats (12-6,3-2) in Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon. LSU is coming off their first SEC win against Texas A&M, who beat Kentucky in Rupp a couple weeks ago. The Tigers fell behind early, but were able to scratch their way back using a full court press that forced 24 turnovers. LSU amassed 19 steals, a team best since 1991.
A big story line to follow centers around LSU point guard, Anthony Hickey. Hickey, the Kentucky native, was Mr. Kentucky basketball his senior year of high school, but was not recruited by either Kentucky or Louisville. Hickey has always felt a bit spiteful that the two hometown schools didn't see his worth. Hickey is sure to have some extra pep in his step playing in his home state for the first time since high school.
Another storyline centers around the newfound physical play of Johnny O'Bryant. "We always want Johnny to play big boy basketball any night we're out there, regardless of who the opponent is. Size and strength, you want him to be that way. If we're playing someone not as big and not as strong, we absolutely want him to be playing that same way because I think it's beneficial for our team. When we're strong and taking the ball to the rim, it helps us get into the foul count. It helps us put more pressure on our opponent."
O'Bryant has gone away from his fading shot and made some moves attacking the basket which have helped him with two consecutive double doubles. He will be important against the athletic big men of Kentucky. Kyle Wiltjer 6'10", Alex Poythress 6'7", and Nerlins Noel 6'10" have been without seven footer Cauley-Stein with a knee injury and he is questionable for the LSU game. I will update with Cauley-Stein information as it comes out. Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vPi9Yd4aHF4/UQKOw--PCMI/AAAAAAAAAhg/IBd1LDIl_aU/s640/Kentucky+Staters.png
Kentucky is led by their freshman class who have come in NBA ready. The team, however, has not gelled as well as last season's Kentucky team and has shown that in their 6 losses. They yet to have a real signature win with most of their wins coming against lesser opponents. In SEC play, they have lost to Texas A&M at home and Alabama on the road. They beat Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt for their three SEC wins. Cauley-Stein is an important piece of their game, so his ability to play will be a big factor in this one. Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XSYRKe39jW4/UQKQ1DxOeKI/AAAAAAAAAhs/0cCJcXLAvWU/s640/SoS+Pre+Kentucky.png
Kentucky only plays 8 people significant minutes. Cauley-Stein may be out with injury. Both LSU and Kentucky lack superior depth but like to play at a fast tempo. Look for LSU to try and force Kentucky freshman into some turnovers with their press that worked so well against Texas A&M.
Nerlens Noel has been lights out his freshman season. He averages 10.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.5 steals, 4.2 blocks and only 1.8 turnovers per game. Those remarkably impressive numbers contribute to his incredible 47.21 Unadjusted SoS and his almost "Taking Over" 59.83 Adjusted SoS. Fortunately for LSU, he does not draw a ton of fouls, but it will be imperative that LSU contains him. It would be very beneficial if the Tigers were able to attack the shot blocker and get him into foul trouble.
Texas A&M beat Kentucky with a 40 point burt from Elston Turner who went 17-19 from the floor, including 6-10 from 3 point land. He had 4 assists and 0 turnovers in that game with 6 rebounds. LSU will need a similar effort from Anthony Hickey to win in Rupp. Is it possible? Of course. Likely? Absolutely not.
LSU 62, Kentucky 75
This post was edited on 1/25 at 12:34 pm