Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DiG0SPKZ2f0/USlSkk0Y65I/AAAAAAAABGY/zaBGqxE8qYg/s640/IMG_0473.JPG Who:
LSU Tigers (16-9,7-7) vs Arkansas Razorbacks (17-10,8-6) When:
Wednesday, Feb 27 - 7:00pm Where:
Baton Rouge, LA - Pete Maravich Assembly Center (13,215, 47th NCAA) How: TV: SECN (Alexandria-KLAX-DT2; Baton Rouge-WBXH; Lafayette-KADN; Monroe-KARD; New Orleans-WUPL; Shreveport-KSHV)
After an 0-4 SEC start, LSU has an opportunity to go above .500 in league play for the first time since starting 1-0 last season. The Tigers stay at home to face a team that has historically been very poor on the road. Arkansas is 1-9 this season away from Bud Walton Arena. Last season, they were 1-11 away from Bud Walton, and in 2011 they were 3-10 away from their home arena. To put it nicely, the Razorbacks have struggled on the road, especially the last two years under head coach Mike Anderson.
LSU has won their last five home games, including big wins against Texas A&M, Missouri, and Alabama. Even with all this, Arkansas is the team who is still considered by many "on the bubble" for an opportunity at the NCAA Tournament. That alone gives Arkansas the drive needed to right the ship when it comes to their road woes. That doesn't mean LSU has nothing to play for. LSU currently sits only one game out of a three way tie for fifth place in the SEC.
Arkansas is a team that has struggled from beyond the arc. Recently, they have found freshman guard Anthlon Bell (6'3" 190) to be their answer from deep. He has averaged 15.5 points per game over his last two and has helped extend defenses. Arkansas is however, very good from inside the arc. As a team they shoot 50.3% from inside the arc and have been very successful in protecting the ball. Even with their uptempo style, the Razorbacks average 12 turnovers per game. They are 10th in the NCAA in turnovers per possession. Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s2zJotijyOw/USzFiNQAZFI/AAAAAAAABPE/9PXwzr4_1eQ/s1600/Starters+Arkansas.png
The Razorbacks are also deep. The Razorback bench provides 44.2% of the teams total minutes, good for 5th most in the country. However they do have a weakness that LSU could try and attack. As Razorback coach, Mike Anderson, put it, "It's evident when Marshawn (Powell) is not out there. We're a different team." That's because outside of Powell, the Razorbacks have very little size. Fellow starter Coty Clarke adds a 6'7" body, but besides his, only backups Jacorey Williams (6'8" 204 Fr) and Hunter Mickelson (6'10" 245 So) stand above 6'5" tall.
The idea of freshmen Jacorey Williams with only 204 pounds of body guarding Johnny O'Bryant should have Tiger fans salivating. Powell has been in foul trouble recently, including their last game against Florida where he had to sit out a major chunk of time in the first half and was only able to log 20 minutes, 7 points, and 2 rebounds. LSU should try and force Powell into foul trouble. Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xO3S6QKghVM/USzFiJaRurI/AAAAAAAABO8/s0qnMhRScaU/s1600/SoS+pre+Arkansas.png
Arkansas Coach Anderson knows of this potential matchup as well. "Johnny O'Bryant is a double-double waiting to happen." LSU will try and pack it in on defense and make Arkansas score from outside. Another Arkansas threat, is BJ Young, who has been a very efficient point guard for the Razorbacks. His 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and only 2 turnovers per game are very impressive numbers.
While the outcome isn't evident, one thing is; Coach Jones has turned it around, and others have started to see it. Arkansas Coach Anderson put it well. "It's his (Johnny Jones) dream job... He's got people excited about basketball." The school newspaper (Daily Reveille) called the team "Resilient", which is a great way of saying Coach Jones teams don't give up. CBS Sports host Tim Brando said, "People are now calling me about you (Jones) that didn't call before." People are noticing LSU and could move up as high as 5th in the SEC by the weekend. Prediction:
LSU 76, Arkansas 72
This post was edited on 2/27 at 9:29 am