LSU Tigers (15-8,6-6) @ Tennessee Volunteers (14-10,6-6) When:
Tuesday, Feb 19th - 6:00PM Where:
Thompson Boling Arena (21,678 - 5th NCAA) How: TV: ESPNU
LSU goes to Tennessee for a huge matchup against the surging Volunteers. Both teams are playing some of the better ball in the SEC right now. Tennessee comes off a 30 point victory over then #25 Kentucky, while LSU is coming into Thompson Boling winners of five out of their last six. The teams are tied for 7th place in the SEC and are both looking to improve their stance before the SEC tournament in mid March. Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NWK-Z0Fv0PQ/USKJBHy-PeI/AAAAAAAABBw/qneqY5j1ucw/s1600/Starters+Tenn.png
The most intriguing matchup in this one will be down low where we are sure to see a battle between LSU's Johnny O'Bryant and Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee handles Andrew Del Piero, who had a career high 13 point Saturday night. If they leave Stokes on ADP, that leaves 6'6" 188 pound Richardson to guard the 260+ pound O'Bryant. The better option is for Tennessee to use Richardson on Del Piero, but that could really setup the Tubaman to have a solid performance.
Tennessee uses Trae Golden as a penetrating point guard. Tennessee is near the bottom of the NCAA in assist numbers and like to take everyone off the dribble. While their assist numbers are down, their free throw numbers are very high. They shoot over 22 free throws per game, twice as many as LSU. Another interesting stat for Tennessee is their lack of steals. They only average 4 per game as a team, and noone averages over 1 per game. LSU has four players averaging over one per game and Hickey averages 3.3 per game, nearly as many as Tennessee as a team!
Tennessee has struggled to score much of the year, but much of that can be partially due to a very slow pace they normally play with. Earlier in the season they lost back to back games to Georgetown and Virginia by scores of (37-36) and (46-38), but they did score 88 on Kentucky Saturday. Obviously, Tennessee is a team that can play very solid ball, but have struggled at times. Which team will show up Tuesday? Noone knows. Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vD_9KplpdL8/USKJBA2Dz6I/AAAAAAAABB0/o3r0waPxiFg/s1600/SoS+pre+Tenn.png
For explanation of SoS Rating click HERE
Stokes comes into this one with the highest Adjusted and Unadjusted SoS scores. He is a monster down low and it will be more than interesting to see how each team's coach plays down low. LSU may hold the wild card in the deck with the emergence of 7'3" center Andrew Del Piero who is a major matchup problem for Tennessee. We will probably see more Temi Makanjuola (6'9" 250 So) and Kenny Hall (6'9" 230 Sr) than usual with the 7'3" body in the game. Del Piero has been able to make some good offensive moves against 6'7" and below defenders so Tennessee may have to revamp their lineup to combat him.
LSU must also contain the play of Trae Golden who has been an unheralded SEC star this season. His 11 points and 4 assists are good, but he has come up big when needed this season. He went for 24 points and 8 assists versus Kentucky Saturday and looks to stay hot. Interesting note, while Tennesse is a predominantly driving team, 6'3" guard, Skylar McBee is a serious jump shooter. He has attempted 111 three point baskets and only 13 two point baskets. Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-M8EBAu0SsyU/USIqDZjxwHI/AAAAAAAABAI/7R1AxdmxbYk/s1600/Standings+2.17.png
Continuing to look ahead to the SEC Tournament, it is obvious how important the LSU vs Tenn game is for seeding. Both sit in great position to make a move into the top part of the SEC with a strong finish. Missouri playing Florida means, the winner of our game would probably tie Missouri for 6th place. Arkansas at home most likely means they will get the win, but watch out for South Carolina at home against Ole Miss. They have struggled lately. An Ole Miss loss this week would really hurt their chances of a 2 round bye (top 4) in the SEC Tournament.
Alabama who struggled in pre-SEC play, can get their 10th win of the SEC season with a victory over Mississippi State at home. They come to the PMAC Saturday for a rematch of last weeks game played in Tuscaloosa. The middle of the SEC is very tight right now and anyone who gets hot and makes a run could really climb in the standings. Both LSU and Tennessee look to be candidates of doing this so this game could prove to be vital to the success of either club.
LSU 65, Tennessee 68