LSU (9-14 overall, 1-10 in SEC) vs. Arkansas (17-7 overall, 6-5 in SEC)
WHEN: Saturday, February 11 at 7:30 p.m. CT
WHERE: Maravich Center (Baton Rouge, La.)
TV/RADIO: SEC Network/98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
LAST MEETING: LSU lost at Arkansas 86-99 on January 21
The Tigers are arguably coming off one of their best performances this season against Kentucky, but the team fell just short of the upset bid in Lexington losing 92-85, the team's 10th straight. LSU clawed its way back into the game by shooting over 60 percent in the second half and with Antonio Blakeney's third 30-point game of his career. That being said, the Tigers couldn't matchup well enough for 40 minutes against one of the most talented teams in the country. The 1991 SEC champions will be in the PMAC for this game so there will be a lot of pressure on this team to perform. It seems like the Tigers are knocking on the door to making this happen, but will they be able to raise the bar of their game to get into the win column? Performances like the one Blakeney had against the Wildcats would certainly help.
It's been a rough stretch for the Razorbacks as the team has lost three of their past four games including a 13-point loss in Fayetteville, Ark. on Tuesday night to Vanderbilt. When you take a look at the stat sheet, it wasn't anything that jumps out at you right away that made it seem like the Razorbacks should have gotten beat by 13 points at home. Vanderbilt just flat out shot the ball better and grabbed a few more rebounds. Mike Anderson's squad didn't turn the ball over, finishing with just six turnovers. Vanderbilt hit 52 percent of its shots while Arkansas shot just 38 percent from the field. That was the difference in the game. Arkansas was recently blown out on the road by Oklahoma State. It just hasn't been a good stretch for the Razorbacks and they'll look to get on track against a team that could come into this one with as big of a desire to win as its had all season thanks to the close loss to Kentucky.
Razorbacks to Watch
G Dusty Hannahs: One of the best perimeter shooters in the game went off against LSU last time out. Hannahs is coming off a 24-point performance in the team's loss to Vanderbilt. LSU hasn't been great on defense in general and Hannahs exploited that last time out. The Razorbacks got him the ball and allowed him to catch and shoot with ease last time out. LSU can't allow him that room again from the Razorbacks' leading scorer.
F Moses Kingsley: Kingsley had his way with the entire LSU front court during the team's first matchup at Arkansas. The Commodores though, kept Kingsley in check for most of the night, holding him to just three field goals and six rebounds, finishing with 11 points on the night. Kingsley will look to get back to that physical play against the Tigers.
Projected Arkansas Starters:
G Dusty Hannahs
G Jaylen Barford
G Anton Beard
F Moses Kingsley
F Dustin Thomas
Projected LSU Starters:
G Skylar Mays
G Antonio Blakeney
G Brandon Sampson
F Wayde Sims
F Duop Reath
Matchup to Watch
Duop Reath vs. Moses Kingsley: First time out, Kingsley exploited Reath and was more physical than him, really showing just how far the Lee College transfer has to come to compete at a high level in the SEC. Kingsley took it to him in the first matchup, but with the 1991 SEC champs in the building, will Tiger fans see a different Reath? The big man struggled again against Kentucky for the most part and was in foul trouble in the first half. Expect Arkansas to get it right to Kingsley so he can pound it inside on Reath. If Reath steps up, that'll put a huge amount of pressure on Hannahs to perform.
Keys to the Game
Stay out of foul trouble and silence Kingsley. Touched on above, but it's vital to the success of LSU against Arkansas on Saturday night in the PMAC. If LSU has to play reserve players like Brandon Eddlestone and Brian Bridgewater against the Razorbacks, especially with the game still in the balance, it's not going to be good for Johnny Jones' team. That happened against Kentucky and it really was the difference in the game as LSU fell farther behind with those two in the game. It's not a shot, it's just true. LSU needs Reath, Aaron Epps, Elbert Robinson and Wayde Sims to contribute to the team in a positive manner. Playing good help defense and staying out of foul trouble would go a long way.