Billy Embody - SCOUT

GAME PREVIEW | LSU hits the road trying to find some answers

Defensive improvement is at the top of the Tigers' wish list

LSU (9-5, 1-2 SEC) at Texas A&M (8-6, 0-3)

When | 7 p.m. (CT) Wednesday

Where | Reed Arena | College Station, Texas

TV/Radio | SEC Network | The Eagle (98.1-FM, Baton Rouge)

Series | LSU leads 18-16 but has dropped four of the last five meetings, as well as the last four games in College Station where the Aggies are 9-2 vs. the Tigers. This is the 10th meeting since A&M joined the SEC, with A&M holding a 5-4 edge.

Last meeting | The Aggies mauled the Tigers 71-38 at the SEC Tournament last March 12, the worst loss of Johnny Jones’ five-year tenure.

Last time out | Mississippi State 95, LSU 78; South Carolina 79, Texas A&M 68

Tiger trends

LSU is one of 11 SEC teams with a road win this season, but one of six without a win at home through three league outings. … LSU is shooting better from 3-point range (44.1%) than overall (43%) in SEC play. Opponents, meanwhile, are shooting 52% in the first half of the three games and 21-of-42 from 3-point range. … Duop Reath has scored in double digits in 11 games and notched his third double-double with 19/13 vs. Mississippi State. That outburst after he had produced only 14 points and 6 boards in the first two leagues games. … Brandon Sampson made only 3-of-10 field goals in the loss to State in 19 minutes and missed all five 3-point attempts. … Antonio Blakeney’s strong second half against the Bulldogs allowed him to remain hot as a scorer. Over the last four games he is averaging 21.5 a contest and has connected on 31-of-68 shots (45.6%). … SEC play hasn’t fazed Skylar Mays much: He has scored 29 points, dished out 12 assists and has only two turnovers in 59 minutes. … Jalyn Patterson has 6 assists in two of the three league games and 15 overall. He hasn’t coughed the ball up once in 77 minutes. … After two games of notable improvement, Wayde Sims struggled against Mississippi State with only 4 points on 1-for-8 shooting from the field. He did continue to make an impact on the glass with 5 boards but also turned the ball over three times. … 36.7% of LSU’s floor shots in SEC games have been launched from 3-point territory (73 of 199). The Tigers are hitting at a 47.7% clip from beyond the arc. …

Breaking down Texas A&M

In contrast to LSU, the Aggies are inside-out oriented with two legitimate big men (Tyler Davis and Vivian native Robert Williams) and a versatile swing man in D.J. Hogg. … Williams ranks second in the SEC with 35 blocked shots … The Aggies top the conference in offensive rebound percentage at 39.8%. … A&M has struggled with turnovers since SEC play began with 66 (25 in two of the three outings), while opponents have given the ball away only 25 times. … The Aggies’ defense has also scuffled: Opponents have made more free throws (55) than A&M has attempted (46). …

Aggies to watch

F D.J. Hogg | The Aggies’ sharpshooter is the kind of offensive threat that has given LSU trouble this season. He is shooting 43% (37 of 86) from 3-point range and is coming off a red-hot performance against South Carolina when he buried 7-of-9 from deep on the way to his second 25-point outing of the season. In three conference games, Hogg has knocked down 11-of-19 treys.

C Tyler Davis | The big 6-foot-10 sophomore has the capacity to dominate games at time in the paint and presents a tough matchup for LSU. He has dipped a little in league play with only 29 points and 16 rebounds while battling first-half foul woes. Containing him inside will be a major factor for the Tigers.

Projected starting lineups


G Brandon Sampson (11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 49.2% FG, 18-59 3-pt. FG)

G Antonio Blakeney (17.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 47.9% FG, 24-65 3-pt. FG)

G Skylar Mays (5.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4 apg, 15-20 FT)

F Duop Reath (14.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 55.8% FG, 29 blocks)

F Aaron Epps (6.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 51.6% FG)

Tigers statistics

Texas A&M

F Robert Williams (10.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 35 blocked shots, 62% FG, 73.3% FT)

F D.J. Hogg (13.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 37-86 3-pt. FG)

C Tyler Davis (13.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 60% FG, 16 blocked shots)

G Chris Collins (1.5 ppg, 6-16 FG, 8 assists)

G Admon Gilder (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 18-52 3-pt. FG)

Aggies statistics

Matchup to watch

Reath, Epps and Elbert Robinson vs. Davis: The Aggies’ big man has been up-and-down this season, but against the finesse-oriented Tigers, he could have a field day if he gets comfortable. Preventing the big sophomore from doing so falls on the shoulders of LSU’s three big men and it may require a revolving effort to make sure they avoid foul trouble – Reath in particular. Denying Davis the ball or at least making entry passes difficult looms as a huge priority because once he gets it on the block, the Tigers aren’t strong enough to control him.

Keys to the game

The matchup above is a big one, but the Aggies, while struggling, present several problems for LSU. Texas A&M has been a good defensive team overall and in the past has forced the Tigers to grind out possessions, thus taking them out of their comfort zone. Williams gives A&M a 1-2 punch inside and he won’t be short on motivation against his home-state school. He can be a game-changer on the defensive interior, and is almost automatic if he gets position in the lane on offense. The Tigers can’t afford to focus all their attention on the inside, though, because Hogg and Gilder are both capable of hot perimeter shooting for the Aggies. Not that this game is any different, but LSU can’t afford to fall into a deep hole because A&M is a team that can shorten games because of its offensive patience and ability to make the foe work on offense.  

SEC standings

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