LSU (9-8, 1-5 SEC) at Arkansas (14-4, 3-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday
Where: Bud Walton Arena | Fayetteville, Ark
TV/Radio: SEC Network | The Eagle (98.1-FM, Baton Rouge)
Series: The Razorbacks hold a 33-28 lead in the series and have a much bigger advantage in Fayetteville, 18-6. Since Arkansas entered the SEC, the Hogs are 29-23 vs. LSU. … The Tigers have claimed the last three games, including a dramatic 81-78 decision in Bud Walton Arena in the final regular-season game of 2014-15.
Last meeting: The Razorbacks rolled past the Tigers 85-65 last Feb. 23 in Fayetteville after nabbing a 76-74 win at home on Jan. 16.
Last time out: Auburn 78, LSU 74; Arkansas 62, Texas A&M 60
Jalyn Patterson has a 26-to-7 assist-turnover ratio in SEC games. The junior is nine 3-pointers made short of 100 for his career and he needs three steals to reach 100. … Brandon Sampson played a season-low 12 minutes at Auburn. By contrast, Aaron Epps logged a career-high 34 and responded with 15 points and 13 rebounds. … Duop Reath has been to the free-throw line only 10 times in six SEC games. Epps has attempted 14. … Skylar Mays has struggled so hit shots from the floor in league play (17-for-41) since a promising beginning against Vanderbilt, but has been deadly at the free-throw line, knocking down 13-of-14 in six games, 17-of-18 dating back to the Wake Forest game. … LSU is 14-for-56 (25%) from outside the 3-point arc in the last three games. The Tigers’ 26 attempts at Auburn were their second most of the season (28 vs. Vanderbilt). … LSU lost despite grabbing 46 rebounds against Auburn, which equaled a season-high. The Tigers have snatched 40-plus boards seven times and are 5-2 in those games. … Auburn’s 22 free-throw attempts were the fewest by a league opponent this season, but its 86.4% accuracy was the best by a foe all season.
Breaking down Arkansas
Arkansas is 10-2 at home this season and is scoring 83.9 points a game with a +12.6 scoring margin. … The Hogs have won five games in a row decided by four points or fewer, two of those in SEC play. In fact, four of Arkansas’ five league games have been settled by single digits. … Four players in the Hogs’ main rotation are transfers – two from junior college and two from Division I (Dusty Hannahs from Texas Tech, Dustin Thomas from Colorado). … Arkansas ranks second in the SEC in free-throw accuracy at 76%. Hannahs is second individually at 89.8% (53-of-59). … Arkansas is +95 in fast0break points this season and has topped 20+ in five games so far. But in a 62-60 win at Texas A&M, the Razorbacks managed only 2 fast-break points, a season-low. … Moses Kinglsey has blocked 4 shots or more in five games this season but none in SEC play. … Daryl Macon is Arkansas’ top scorer overall (14 ppg) and in SEC games (15.5). He also leads the Razorbacks in assists (12) in league play. Macon is also very comfortable at Bud Walton Arena where he has nailed 25-of-56 3-point shots in 12 games.
Razorbacks to watch
F Moses Kingsley: The Hogs’ 6-10 senior from Nigeria can be a huge impact player as his numbers attest: 11.7, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game. But he doesn’t always finish inside and can be foul-prone at times. The Tigers need to use Duop Reath, Aaron Epps and Elbert Robinson to give him different looks and wear him down on the defensive end of the court.
G Daryl Macon: There is some unknown with the junior-college guard, but he has to be hard to miss on video. Macon has scored in double digits in all but four games and leads the Hogs with 14 points a game and he has upped that to 15.5 in league play. He is equally as dangerous from outside (38.4% 3-point shooter) as he is at the free-throw line (87.7%).
LSU projected starting lineup:
G Antonio Blakeney (16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 30 assists, 47.6% FG, 27-75 3-pt. FG)
G Skylar Mays (6.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 24-30 FT)
G Jalyn Patterson (6.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, 26 steals)
F Duop Reath (13.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 53.8% FG, 32 blocks
F Aaron Epps (6.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 49.4% FG, 8-19 3-pt. FG)
Off the bench: G Brandon Sampson (10.6 ppg, 3 rpg, 47.4% FG), F Wayde Sims 5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 46.2% FG), C Elbert Robinson (2.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 59.1% FG)
Arkansas projected starting lineup:
G Jaylen Barford (10 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 44.9% FG)
G Daryl Macon (14 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 33-86 3-pt. FG, 87.7% FT)
G Anton Beard (9 ppg, 2.1 apg, 17-47 3-pt. FG, 78% FT)
F Moses Kingsley (11.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 45.9% FG, 48 blocked shots)
F Dustin Thomas (6 ppg, 4 rpg, 44.6% FG)
Off the bench: G Dusty Hannahs (13.9 ppg, 34-93 3-pt. FG, 89.8% FT), G Manny Watkins (6.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 54.7% FG, 25 steals)
Matchup to watch
LSU’s perimeter defense vs. Dusty Hannahs: As Arkansas’ depth has formed and a deeper rotation has formed, the senior’s role has changed. But he is still a major threat from the perimeter, and for an LSU team prone to giving up 3-pointers, that’s a potential problem. Hannahs is shooting 36.6% from outside the arc (34 for 93) and has knocked down 11-of-26 (42.3%) in league play despite an 0-for-5 game vs. Kentucky. Bodying up presents problems – especially when the Hogs are in the bonus – because he is an even better foul shooter at 89.8%. LSU’s focus has to be on denying him the ball in comfortable shooting position.
Keys to the game
Finish. Sounds easy enough, but LSU has struggled to play a complete game all season. The last two games have been the closest the Tigers have come and they continue to be somewhat enigmatic in that they play better on the road. Arkansas’ home environment can be tough, but if LSU can seize command quickly and force the Razorbacks to try to scramble back with pressure – yes it sounds weird to hear that – it could benefit LSU. Because the Tigers play better when they can push the pace and attack, which the Hogs’ pressure can create. Making 3-point shots is also a key because Arkansas plays four guards regularly and that also negates Kingsley’s threat as a shot blocker.