Like the Ole Miss game, we won't do a full-blown preview today since most of the information in our previous game preview of LSU is still good. Instead, we'll look at what they've done since Kentucky last met them, and evaluate the game from there.
LSU since the last game
Since Tuesday, February 4th, LSU has played 3 games. Here are their results, courtesy of Kenpom.com:
|02/12/14||138||Texas A&M||L, 83-73||A||70||103.7||50||17.1||25||37.9||117.9||56.9||15.6||34.3||44.8|
|02/19/14||225||Mississippi St.||W, 92-81||H||76||120.4||58.5||20.9||36.4||49.1||106||52.9||20.9||29||69.2|
Four Factors from last time UK played LSU
Four Factors for both teams now
The last time these two teams met in Baton Rouge on January 28th, everything went wrong for Kentucky. The Wildcats came out unprepared to play and with low energy, and having been forced to navigate an ice storm might have given them an excuse to come out flat. In any case, Johnny O'Bryant III came out like an All-American and went off on the Wildcats, scoring 29 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. LSU shot 56% from the field and 40% from the arc in that game.
LSU backed that stellar performance up with a 3-3 performance since, winning all their home games and losing every one of their contests on the road to teams that are all inferior to the Tigers on paper, and losing all of them by double digits.
Today, the Tigers try to snap that road losing streak against Kentucky, and they could not have chosen a worse time to do it. Kentucky comes off two of their best games, back-to-back, this season, and even though one of them was a loss, it was a narrow loss against a very good team, a game that Kentucky could easily have won. Kentucky will be looking to avenge the earlier loss and prove that game in Baton Rouge was not them. It's important that they do so, and get another winning streak started.
In this game, the Wildcats must do a much better job of getting into the lane against LSU and drawing fouls. In Baton Rouge, the Wildcats had their lowest free throw rate of the season by a mile — 18%. Kentucky's average is 55%, and their lowest prior to that game was 30% versus Mississippi St. Only 5 times all year has Kentucky been below 40% in free throw rate percent.
The second thing Kentucky needs to do well is to force someone other than O'Bryant to beat them in the paint. LSU has a big front court, both on the floor and on the bench, but O'Bryant is by far the biggest threat to have a monster game. The Wildcats must double-team him on the catch and force O'Bryant to become a passer rather than a scorer.
Third, the Wildcats have to be concerned about LSU's rebounding, as they are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the SEC. The Wildcats must get offensive rebounds to extend possessions and give themselves the best chance to win.
Finally, LSU has small, quick guards in Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, and guards like that have given Kentucky trouble all year. The Wildcats have to find a way to limit their penetration while being wary of their outside shooting.
Kentucky should have a significant edge in this game at home, but they can't take LSU lightly like they did in Baton Rouge. LSU should be a good bit better than what they have been, and at any time, they may decide to play like an NCAA Tournament team. The biggest thing that plays in Kentucky's favor is how loathsome they have been on the road, with their only wins coming at South Carolina and Texas Tech.