Where they're good: The Tigers have a pair of undersized, speedy guards who do an excellent job pestering ball handlers and forcing turnovers. Both freshman Anthony Hickey (5-foot-10) and sophomore Andre Stringer (5-foot-9) average two steals per game and the Tigers rank 25th in the nation in turnover percentage defense. The Golden Eagles have been turning the ball over at a higher rate over the last few games and will need to do a better job or LSU will turn sloppy play into transition opportunities on its own end.
Buzz Williams said Monday's game will be won on the glass. If that's the case, LSU may be in decent shape. Marquette has struggled to rebound on the defensive end and the Tigers, who average 12.8 offensive rebounds per game (18th in the countr), will take advantage of this with Marquette center Chris Otule sidelined. 6-foot-11 junior Justin Hamilton and 6-foot-9 freshman Johnny O'Bryant will give the Marquette front court all it can handle, as Jae Crowder will need to stay out of early foul trouble. O'Bryant's 15.5 offensive rebound rate is 37th best in the country.
Where they struggle: Part of the reason LSU has been so successful rebounding the ball on the offensive glass is because it misses so many shots. Ralston Turner, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, leads the team with 104 field goal attempts but is shooting at just a 30.8 percent clip. As a team, the Tigers are shooting 39.2 percent from the field, which is 288th worst in the nation. Outside of Hamilton (51.3 percent) and 6-foot-7 junior Storm Warren (47 percent), no one on the team is shooting over 42 percent. Marquette's stingy defense will create problems and if the front court can shut down the combination of Hamilton and Bryant, the Tigers will really struggle to score.
Three players to watch
PF Justin Hamilton: Marquette will have its hands full all night trying to guard the talented forward. The 6-foot-11 junior is a strong presence in the paint and is excellent passing the ball, which will make it more difficult to double team him, if needed. Whether it's Jae Crowder or Davante Gardner, Marquette will need to be physical against Hamilton without getting into foul trouble. Boxing him to keep him off the glass, as Buzz Williams said, could be the key to victory in a tough road environment.
SG Andre Stringer: Marquette is allowing just under seven 3-pointers a game defensively which has to make Stringer excited. The 3-point specialist is the Tigers' leading scorer and has connected from downtown at least once in each game this season. He has made three or more 3-pointers on four different occasions this year. Marquette will need to guard Stringer before the catch and now allow him any open looks.
PG Anthony Hickey: Not your typical point guard, the undersized Hickey does a lot of different things well. He is logging 32.4 minutes per game as a freshman for the Tigers and has active hands, which means Marquette's best bet is to get out and run to tire Hickey and not let him man-up on defenders.
Keys to the game
Rebound the basketball: It sounds almost too easy, but it's true. Hamilton is capable of turning in a monster performance if he gets going on the glass and he is drawing 5.0 fouls per 40 minutes played. Marquette can't afford to get into foul trouble, and part of that is not letting Hamilton or O'Bryant snag a rebound underneath the basket, where a foul is more likely. Vander Blue and Darius Johnson-Odom will be important when Crowder, Gardner and Jamil Wilson are busy boxing out LSU's bigs.
Take care of the basketball: Marquette committed 12 turnovers against Northern Colorado a week after committing 16 against Green Bay. While the fast-paced, less structured tempo of the game increased both numbers a bit, Marquette needs to shake mini-slumps where the offense gets into lulls. LSU is sneaky and has quick hands defensively and the bigs are more than capable of blocking shots and sending the ball the other way.
Buzz Williams on LSU
"They're good, they're good. Athletically, similar to Ole Miss. The collection of bigs will be the best that we've played against. Two undersized guards that can really score. Unbelievable on the glass. Simple in how they approach the game. Superb in the execution of their simplicity. We will have our hands full, it will take all of us to give ourselves a chance on a true road game on an SEC road floor."
"I think Trent Johnson is an outstanding coach. I think what he's done speaks for itself and I really like the complexion of their roster."
"They're really excited to play us. You can look in their media guide, in their media notes, this is a really important game to them."
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