The LSU Tigers (8-2) take on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (5-9) in the teams last out of conference game until postseason play. The Wildcats were 3 points away from making the NCAA tournament last season as they went down in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship game to Norfolk St 73-70. There only remains a skeleton of that team that graduated 3 seniors. They still have 3 prominent seniors playing this year, and have kept every loss but one (Pitt 89-40) close.
While they are a challenge, they will not be able to hurt LSU inside like some teams have been able to do. B-C has one 6'7" player and three 6'6" players. They are small. We will however see a very different pace from what LSU likes to play. Bethune Cookman will try to slow the pace down to a crawl. They have help opponents to under 75 in 9 of their 14 games mostly due to a very slow pace.
LSU will more than likely be out with Johnny O'Bryant who hasn't practiced since the Marquette game on December 22nd. I think O'Bryant will be ready for Auburn on the 9th though. Coach Jones also said Hickey will be available. "Anthony (Hickey) has been practicing with us. He has been giving us a great effort. I look forward to getting him back on the floor on Saturday. I know he will have a smooth transition back out there on the floor. I know that it's something that he's looking forward to as well."
In Johnny O'Bryant's absence the Tigers will be able to continue to test the abilities of Jalen Courtney who took advantage of his playing time against Houston Baptist giving the Tigers 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 23 minutes (Adj SoS 49.94). If Courtney can emerge as a legitimate post player, it would bode very well for LSU going into SEC play. He has the size required at 6'8" and he has added some good weight over the off-season. Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RoppM2AQ2PQ/UOcPl0zYDPI/AAAAAAAAAHo/VKDTWumxhcA/s640/Bethune+Cook+SoS.png
While trying to find another post presence is important, Shavon Coleman should get the start down low alongside Del Piero. Andrew Del Piero has done well against smaller defenders this season and could be poised for a good game. Coleman has been very consistent and recorded his 4th double-double of the season against Houston Baptist.
I think Bethune Cookman will have their hands full against the Tigers, but they have been able to give teams a tough game all season long. While I think LSU is going to be able to run away with this one a bit, it could be close early in the second half. Prediction:
LSU 79, Bethune Cookman 63
This post was edited on 1/5 at 3:49 pm