On Saturday afternoon, LSU beat a small yet determined Gardner-Webb team 93 to 82. There were a lot of positives to go along with some negatives that LSU will need to improve on before facing Texas Tech on Tuesday night.

One of LSU's biggest concerns after their exhibition game was rebounding. After losing the rebounding battle against Morehouse, LSU was able to outrebound Gardner-Webb 47-28. LSU only allowed 10 offensive rebounds after allowing over 30 in the preseason.

Another positive for LSU has to be how they performed against a zone defense. Gardner-Webb was a predominantly man to man defensive team last season, but they came out against a much bigger LSU team in a zone. LSU has struggled against a zone in the past, especially trying to get the ball inside. However, LSU was able to get inside almost at will against the Runnin' Bulldogs and hit 60.9% of their two point attempts.

LSU was also able to have one of their best free throw shooting nights in recent memory. The Tigers made 13 of their 14 free throws hitting 92.9% after shooting a very poor 66.9% last season. I fully expect LSU to be a better free throw shooting team this season. We could easily be looking at a 74%-75% free throw shooting team, which could be the different in a win this season versus a loss last season.

People will quickly start to recognize LSU's "Big 4" players. After rarely having more than 1 or 2 real scoring threats since LSU's 2006 Final Four team, LSU has four guys who they feel very comfortable taking a shot. Josh Gray, Keith Hornsby, Jarell Martin, and Jordan Mickey all have the capability of scoring in bunches. Mickey and Martin led LSU with 21 points each, while Gray and Hornsby added 18 and 17 points respectively. The Big 4 scored 77 of LSU's 93 points.

Jordan Mickey led the team with 6 assists. He was able to kick the ball outside as opponents crashed down on him. He also found a streaking teammate heading to the basket. . Jarell Martin had a double-double pulling down 11 boards to go with his 21 points.

Now the negatives...

First off, LSU turned the ball over too much. They turned it over on 23.2% of their possessions (18 turnovers). Martin had 5 and Gray had 4 which both need to be corrected moving forward. Besides the turnovers, there's not very much negative on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense will pull the extra slack on this one.

The defensive woes begin with the same problem LSU's defense had last season, defending the screen. Gardner-Webb would start by setting a screen around the three point line for a wing player. Last season, LSU struggled to stop the ball handler from getting into the lane. This game, Coach Jones asked the off defender to stop the ball handler from getting any forward momentum as the diagram below shows.

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The problem came because when LSU would stop the ball handler from driving to the lane it opened a lane to the rim for the man screening. He would hard cut to the basket and the ball handler would hit him with the defender trailing too much to stop a layup. Gardner-Webb used the screen to get their player between the defender and the basket.

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The Runnin' Bulldogs hit a ridiculous 61.9% of their shots from two point range. After the game, Jordan Mickey blamed the post defense on playing too conservative. No matter what the reason, LSU must find a way to defend inside without going into a zone defense.

LSU was able to make a run in the second half after going to a 2-3 zone, however, LSU allowed a ton of wide open three point shots that just didn't fall for Gardner-Webb. Against teams with consistent shooting, LSU would have been torn apart in their zone.

Not only did LSU allow Gardner-Webb easy inside looks, but they couldn't force turnovers. The Runnin' Bulldogs only committed 10 turnovers on the game.

Overall, it was great to get LSU on the court and to get the win against a Gardner-Webb team who is well coached and hard working.

Up next for LSU is Texas Tech at home on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm. I'll preview that game later this afternoon and give the keys to victory against a big 12 foe.
Filed Under: LSU Basketball
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pellietigersaint116 months
agree with you about the zone. Most were raving after the game about how well we performed in the zone. To me, the perimeter rotation looked lazy and disorganized. If GW had knocked down half of those 3's, we would have been forced back into man 2 man D. I hope they can solve this because this team has potential
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