Today's foe is the LSU Tigers, a team that has generated a bit of surprise in the young SEC season. LSU had a rough non-conference season losing 7 games and limping into the SEC.
But since arriving at the conference part of their schedule the Tigers have reeled off two straight wins, against the Auburn Tigers on the road and the Arkansas Razorbacks at home. In those two wins, the Tigers have scored an average of 60 points. That's not going to be enough against the likes of UK, who averages almost 80 per contest.
More after the jump.
LSU Tigers Basketball Roster
|Chris Bass||4||G||Primary reserve||185||6-1||junior|
|Jalen Courtney||14||F||Rarely plays||210||6-8||freshman|
|Andrew Del Piero||55||C||Walk on||286||7-2||sophomore|
|Matt Derenbecker||21||F||Starter last game, normally reserve
|Aaron Dotson||45||G||Starter, 3 point threat
|Garrett Green||3||F||Primary reserve, good rebounder||230||6-11||junior|
|Justin Hamilton||41||C||Not available -- year in residence, transfer from Iowa St.||260||6-11||junior|
|Dennis Harris||15||F||Minor reserve||190||6-11||sophomore|
|Eddie Ludwig||13||F||Started last game||215||6-9||sophomore|
|Daron Populist||25||G||Minor reserve||170||5-10||sophomore|
|Andre Stringer||10||G||Starter, leading assists, leading scorer, 3pt threat||170||5-9||freshman|
|Ralston Turner||22||G||Primary reserve, 2nd leading assist, leading scorer||193||6-6||freshman|
|Storm Warren||24||F||Normal starter,leading rebounder
|Malcolm White||5||F||Starter, 2nd leading rebounder||225||6-9||junior|
Most of you will recognize Malcolm White, who used to play for the Mississippi Rebels. He transferred to LSU last year and is now starting for the Tigers. He is the leading FG% shooter for LSU at just under 50%, and is their major threat on the inside along with Storm Warren.
From the perimeter, point guard Andre Stringer is a threat from 3-point range, shooting over 35% from distance. Aaron Dotson and Ralston Turner are also dangerous perimeter shooters for the Tigers.
For Kentucky Stacey Poole is suffering from the flu, but is expected to play today.
For the Tigers, Storm Warren has an Achilles injury, but is probable today. Andre Stringer has been suffering from cramps, but is also expected to play. Dennis Harris is questionable, but he rarely plays anyway.
The big problem for LSU is Ralston Turner, who is a major contributor off the bench and is suffering from a stress reaction in his right foot and is doubtful for today.
The Four Factors
The areas the Wildcats have to watch are offensive rebound %, where LSU is very good, and free throw rate %. LSU gets to the line more than Kentucky, but part of that can be attributed to their soft schedule so far.
LSU does not look like much of a threat on paper, but they do have some players who are capable of really hurting Kentucky in certain parts of the game where the Wildcats are weak or lack depth, particularly in the offensive rebounding area. OR's are always going to be a worry for this Kentucky team due to lack of overall size and depth inside, and LSU is a good offensive rebounding team.
What LSU is not is a good defensive team, and that can be deadly against a team like Kentucky. LSU is allowing teams to shoot almost 43% eFG, and that is against a slate of relatively weak teams. That does not bode well for a team that shoots only 47% eFG themselves, and averages only 60 points against the highest-scoring team in the SEC.
Another area where LSU is really challenged is ballhandling. LSU is the worst ballhandling team in the SEC, and Kentucky is the best. Turning the ball over, particularly "live" turnovers, is a good way to get to watch Kentucky run fast breaks on you all day long.
Kentucky should win this game, particularly at home, with relative ease. But if they sleepwalk through it defensively like they did versus Auburn, or fail to be offensively aggressive like they were against the Georgia Bulldogs, the suddenly resurgent Tigers could wind up 3-0.