The Tigers, fresh off a pair of much-needed road wins last week at Florida and at Vanderbilt, return to the PMAC tonight for a matchup with slumping South Carolina (10-8, 1-5).
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m., and the SEC Network will have the live television broadcast.
Frank Martin’s Gamecocks have dropped three straight and five of six since entering SEC play. But one thing about South Carolina – they usually keep it close. Four of their six conference games have been decided by four points or less.
That would be nothing new for the Bayou Bengals, who have played in a total of four overtime periods in six league games.
Get ready for the ballgame below with projected starters and stats, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the ‘Cocks.
LSU (15-4, 4-2)PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 9.0 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.5 spg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 12.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 17.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 48.3% FGs
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3.6 bpg
C Darcy Malone (So., 7-0, 245) – 1.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 54.5% FGs
Impact Reserve: G Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.4 apg
South Carolina (10-8, 1-5)G Tyrone Johnson (Sr., 6-3, 196) – 10.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.7 apg
G Duane Notice (So., 6-2, 221) – 11.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.7 apg
G Sindarius Thornwell (So., 6-5, 215) – 11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 spg
F Michael Carrera (Jr., 6-5, 212) – 5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 41.8% FGs
F/C Demetrius Henry (So., 6-9, 227) – 6.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Impact Reserve: G Marcus Stroman (Fr., 6-2, 185) – 4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.7 apg
- In South Carolina, LSU will find a team more similar to the rest of the conference than Vanderbilt was on Saturday. The Gamecocks rely heavily on perimeter scoring from athletic wings and have serviceable but not great big men. The team’s three leading scorers comprise the starting backcourt, but there is plenty of evidence to show that while they do produce, they aren’t terribly efficient. Thornwell, who was Freshman All-SEC a season ago, is shooting an abysmal 34.8% from the floor while Johnson (40.3%) and Notice (40.7%) aren’t lighting up it either. Collectively Martin’s group ranks 204th in the country in field goal percentage, at 43.1%.
TALK OF CHALK
- What is impressive about South Carolina is the overall depth. Stroman, a freshman, is tied for the team lead in assists coming off the bench, and there are two sizeable post players that help fill gaps for the starters without the ‘Cocks missing much of a beat. Junior Laimonas Chatkevicius (6-11, 250) averages 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a game while 6-foot-7, 228-pound junior Mindaugas Kacinas chips in averages of 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 59.7% from the field. All-told seven Gamecocks average more than 20 minutes a game while nine players log at least 13.2 minutes per contest. It’s reflected in the way the production is distributed considering those nine players all score between 4.1 and 11.4 points per game.
- What’s it all mean for LSU? For starters it means South Carolina is deeper and one of the few teams around the SEC you’d expect to give the Tigers a battle on the boards. The Gamecocks rank 32nd in the NCAA with 38.6 boards a game while LSU is ninth at 40.7 rebounds an outing. But, because of how poorly (and often) the guards shoot, it means that if the Bayou Bengals can score with any consistency, Martin’s men will have a hard time keeping pace. South Carolina hasn’t scored more than 68 points in an SEC game yet. For the season LSU averages 75.5 points a game and has topped 75 in four of its last five ballgames. Watch the rebounding war and the pace as indicators for how the Tigers are playing.
“The games they have played in conference if they have not had success, they’ve been close in some very challenging games, including Kentucky. We know they will be physical. We know they will be tough. They will play with a sense of urgency, and they certainly have a core group of veterans on that team with some experience under their belt.”
WHAT LSU’S SAYING
- Johnny Jones gives South Carolina overview
“I think it speaks volumes to our guys and how they have continued to get better in their approach, their desire and their competitive spirit to win. We have been able to do that. I think what has helped as well is when we have gotten into overtime games, our guys haven’t panicked. They’ve been in it before. The approach they have been able to take served a great purpose for us at Vanderbilt the other day. Our guys didn’t panic. They knew when we had to get back out on the floor and how important it was for us to strike early.”
- Jones on LSU’s toughness in overtime games