Handicappers View - LSU at South Carolina

Measuring stick type of game for these squads today as each is in a winnable situation.

As the short road favorite, LSU is expected to come away with today's win but their desperate need for a victory is what could provide the fuel to help get them there. For the Gamecocks, this is a step down in class from the Top 10 Florida team they just played and it's a favorable venue change as they come home after visiting the intimidating O'Connell Center.

South Carolina is looking to build off of the solid second half they played in Gainesville while LSU is attempting to shrug off back-back poor home performances. With the situational aspects of this handicap at a virtual stalemate, let's examine the on-floor fundamentals.

LSU has a major frontcourt advantage in this game as the interior tandem of 6'9" jr. Johnny O'Bryant III and 6'8" frosh Jordan Mickey figure to exploit the Gamecocks weakness. The duo own field goal percentages of 51.4% and 59.2% respectively while tying for the team leads in scoring average at 14.2 per contest and rebounding at 7.5. Their fierce presence inside should wreak havoc with South Carolina's overmatched counterparts all game long. That edge will either be enhanced or negated by the Tigers backcourt play this afternoon.

Starting guards Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey are depended upon as heavily as O'Bryant & Mickey but their play on the offensive end has been disastrous in the recent home losses. In that pair of games, they combined to shoot 8-33-24.2% from the field (4-15-26.6% from 3 pt range) and Stringer went scoreless for the first time in his 104 game career.

South Carolina's backcourt matches up very well and they need to be difference makers this afternoon. LSU generally likes to push the tempo under HC Johnny Jones (avg 73.7 possessions per game), with their significant low post edge it will be interesting to see how they approach this guard oriented opponent. Gamecocks HC Frank Martin has placed a heavy emphasis on conference games, especially home ones. His strategy of playing a difficult non-conference schedule to prepare for the SEC season and taking small incremental steps toward learning how to win really fit today's situation.

Expect a gallant effort from South Carolina but the talent gap in the paint and "must win" mentality possessed by LSU are likely to be deciding factors here.

Final Score Projection: L.S.U. 74 South Carolina 71

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