PREVIEW: LSU at UAB

A short-handed Tiger team will take on UAB in Birmingham Thursday night. TSD's Ben Love breaks down the matchup, discusses injury implications and provides starting lineups for both teams.

LSU (7-2), winners of four straight, will put its streak on the line away from the friendly confines of the PMAC Thursday night, taking on UAB (4-6) in Bartow Arena, home of the Blazers.

The two teams will play a late game on the CBS Sports Network with tipoff scheduled for 8 p.m.

Just how many Tigers will be available for the non-conference matchup remains up in the air.

Josh Gray, LSU’s starter at point guard in every game this season, is almost certainly out, coming back from an ankle sprain suffered in Saturday night’s home win over Sam Houston State. Tim Quarterman, the Tigers’ lead reserve, was also hobbled in the game’s aftermath and is questionable.

That duo accounts for a combined 62.6 minutes per ballgame as well as 22.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists, leaving a potentially huge void in the LSU backcourt should Quarterman sit out too.

The silver lining: UAB has been rather lousy this season.

Included in the Blazers’ opening 10 games are home losses to ULM, USF and Illinois State. UAB has seen some legitimate competition, though, getting swept by a trio of ranked teams – Wisconsin, Florida and UCLA – as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November.

Get ready for tonight’s game with projected starters, stats, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the team’s trip to Birmingham.

PROJECTED STARTERS

LSU (7-2)

*PG Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.9 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 12.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 15.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 spg
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 16.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg
F/C John Odo (Sr., 6-10, 245) – 2.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 61.5% FGs

*If Quarterman’s unable to go, 6-foot, 173-pound freshman Jalyn Patterson (2.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg) will start at point guard.

UAB (4-6)

G Denzell Watts (So., 6-2, 207) – 2.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.8 apg
G Robert Brown (Jr., 6-5, 185) – 12.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.7 apg
G Tyler Madison (So., 6-4, 225) – 9.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 40% 3s
F William Lee (Fr., 6-9, 210) – 3.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
F Tosin Mehinti (So., 6-9, 213) – 7.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg

TALK OF CHALK

- Let’s address the injuries right off the bat. The latest word is that both players, Gray and Quarterman, made the trip and that Quarterman is going to try to give it a go. That would be big for LSU, not really because of starting lineup adjustments (I think the team can get by with Patterson), but because of the ripple effect on the rest of the rotation. Minus Gray and Quarterman, Coach Johnny Jones has said that Jarell Martin (6-foot-10) and freshman Aaron Epps (6-foot-9), healthy enough to play again, would spend some time at the two-guard. That’s not a look LSU wants defensively if it can help it. With Quarterman available, even if he can only go 15 minutes, there won’t be nearly as many people playing out of position.

- Scoring the basketball has been a major problem for UAB this season. The Blazers rank 216th in the NCAA scoring only 66.5 points on average. UAB has had the following scoring outputs this season already: 43, 47 and 58 twice. The biggest reason why is as you’d expect: horrific shooting from the field. As a team the Blazers are shooting 40.9%, 275th-best in Division I ball. Only one player, swingman Robert Brown, averages in double figures scoring (12.4 ppg). So, a little like the WVU game, LSU would be best served getting into a halfcourt game with UAB – not only because the Tigers will be short-handed but because given the opportunity, the Blazers have shown they’ll shoot themselves out of games.

- There’s not a lot of beef on this UAB team either. The two starting frontcourt players weigh 210 and 213 pounds, respectively (while LSU typically starts a three-man frontcourt that averages 238.3 pounds). Translation: The Tigers should, on paper, dominate on the boards tonight. Especially with one or two perimeter options unavailable, this appears to be a night that will skew big for LSU in terms of lineups, even if Martin is technically playing the two or the three. If the Bayou Bengals can adjust to that differing look and make lemonade of lemons – in this case, pound the ball inside and play volleyball with each other on the glass – the outcome will take care of itself, probably decisively.

WHAT LSU’S SAYING

“We may be a little bit hampered because of injuries, and it may cause us to shuffle our lineup a little bit and put us in a different position. At certain times this year, we have had adversity or something has been different for us, and our kids have done an excellent job of filling that void and being able to fight through it. We are going to possibly be presented with that same type of challenge on Thursday night.”
- Johnny Jones on likelihood of being short-handed

"Length on the perimeter, additional rebounder, capable scorer from the three spot for us. He's active and can get his hands on some balls. It's going to take him a little while because he hasn't been in the rotation."
- Jones on what Epps, who may play more, brings

“It was definitely a confidence-builder to get more minutes (vs. SHSU) and things like that. It was good for me. I’ve got to step up now. Whenever my name is called, especially now (with Gray hurt), it’s time to step up and play. Try not to miss a beat within the team and play hard.”
- Patterson on growing with more playing time



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