PREVIEW: LSU at Arkansas

The Tigers play a vitally important game in Fayetteville Saturday afternoon. Get ready for LSU-Arkansas with TSD's game preview, which includes projected starters, stats and plenty of chalk talk.

On Saturday afternoon LSU (21-9, 10-7) faces one of its biggest challenges of the season at maybe the most inopportune time.

The Tigers travel to No. 18 Arkansas (24-6, 13-4), the SEC’s entrenched second seed heading into next week’s conference tournament, needing a win and with forward Jordan Mickey at less than full strength.

Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. Central Time, and ESPN will have the television broadcast.

Mickey’s status for the game is considered probable after head coach Johnny Jones confirmed the player injured his left shoulder during a fall late in the Tigers’ home loss to Tennessee Wednesday night.

LSU’s 78-63 setback to the Volunteers has the Bayou Bengals back to flirting with the bubble, on the verge of beginning the SEC tourney as a five- or six-seed.

Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks will come into the game on short rest after competing in a wild affair at South Carolina Thursday night, a contest Arkansas won 78-74 by scoring 18 of the game’s final 21 points.

In all the Hogs have won eight of nine, with their only loss since Jan. 31 coming at the hands of No.1 Kentucky.

Get ready for tonight’s SEC showdown with projected starters and stats as well as a detailed look inside the matchups and quotes from an LSU player on the Razorbacks.

PROJECTED STARTERS

LSU (21-9, 10-7)

G Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.0 apg
G Jalyn Patterson (Fr., 6-0, 173) – 6.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 16.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 51.0% FGs
*F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 16.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.7 bpg

* If Mickey can’t go, look for F/C Darcy Malone (So., 7-0, 245) to get the start. Malone averages 8.3 minutes a game and has played in 22 of 30 games.

Impact Reserve: G Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 182) – 7.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.0 spg

Arkansas (24-6, 13-4)

G Anton Beard (Fr., 6-0, 195) – 6.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg
G Rashad Madden (Sr., 6-5, 182) – 10.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.7 apg
G Michael Qualls (Jr., 6-6, 210) – 15.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 35.3% 3s
F Alandise Harris (Sr., 6-6, 230) – 7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 apg
F Bobby Portis (So., 6-11, 242) – 17.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Impact Reserve: Anthlon Bell (Jr., 6-3, 185) – 7.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.5 apg

TALK OF CHALK

- First, I expect Mickey will play. Jones’ take on the subject Thursday afternoon: “I’m thinking so. Not sure. He should be able to get back if treated properly.” So the feeling is Mickey is hobbled, and may well be dealing with something chronic in addition to the shoulder pain directly related to Wednesday night’s tumble. It would explain his dip in production. Nonetheless, I think he suits up Saturday but that LSU has to depend a little more on Malone and Brian Bridgewater. Of those two I believe Bridgewater will be more important in this game, for defensive purposes and some of his bulk inside. Martin would not last long on Portis.

- Speaking of Portis he had a night on Thursday to lead Arkansas back to a victory in Columbia. The sophomore big man finished with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and eight rebounds. In some ways Portis is like Arkansas’ combination of Martin and Mickey, except not as much of a standout on the defensive end. He gets good help, too. Qualls had 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals versus South Carolina while Madden had a Quarterman-type line: nine points, five rebounds and nine assists. The lesson is Arkansas can strike from a number of areas and is never shy on sharing the basketball (Hogs rank sixth in Division-I basketball with 16.9 assists a game).

- Arkansas will keep the tempo going. The Hogs run off an average of 79.1 points this season, having hit the 80-point mark in each of their last two games in Bud Walton Arena. LSU, which admittedly lacked its usual effort and energy level versus Tennessee, will need the dial turned as far as it can go in the other direction Saturday. The Tigers’ bench will also be tested, not only with Bridgewater and Malone pinching in for Mickey, but in the way of ball-handlers versus frequent Arkansas pressure. That makes this a game where Gray can have an impact off the bench. We’ll find out in Fayetteville just how deep LSU goes these days. Few teams in the SEC know how to test your depth like Arkansas.

WHAT LSU’S SAYING

“We’ve got to realize where we’re trying to go, and we’ve got to be determined to get there. We know we have to come together, play real close attention to detail, to the scouting report, and come out ready to play.”
- Jarell Martin on the team’s approach to Saturday’s game

“We do real good against teams that press us. We’re a team that likes to get the ball up the floor . . . We did a great job (at West Virginia) of moving the ball side to side then getting it up the floor and making plays at the basket. I feel like if we come out and do that, we’ll be fine.”
- Martin on anticipated full-court press of Arkansas




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