WVU - LSU Preview

After a shaky road win over thorn-in-the-side Duquesne, West Virginia steps up in class to take on the 3-0 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Saturday.

SCOUTING THE TIGERS

LSU will put a balanced lineup on the floor that will stress the Mountaineer defense to its limits. The Tigers feature a three-guard offense that defies convention, as the trio of starters all are averaging double figures in scoring. Point guard Tack Minor (5-11, 200 lbs.) is a strongly built floor general that poses a dual threat in the form of scoring and playmaking. He recorded a double-double in points and assists in LSU's most recent win, and is averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 dishes per game.

Alongside Minor is longrange shooter Darrell Mitchell (5-11, 175 lbs.) and swingman Antonio Hudson (6-6, 215 lbs), who has also developed into a downtown threat. Mitchell has hit seven of his 16 three-point attempts and averages 13.7 points per game, while Hudson is a blistering 9-17 (52.9%) from behind the arc to fuel his 17 points per game average.

The front line consists of leading scorer Brandon Bass and freshman sensation Glenn "Big Baby" Davis, who was the subject of an intense recruiting battle. Bass (6-8, 250 lbs.) is averaging 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Davis (6-9, 310 lbs.) has stepped right into the college game, nearly averaging a double-double with 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest.

The Tigers have employed a nine-man rotation so far this year, although that number could be cut as the level of competition increases. Forward Regis Koundjia (15 minutes per game), Darnell Lazare (11 minutes per contest) and Ross Neltner (15 minutes) provide most of the relief up front, while Xavier Whipple spells the starting trio in the backcourt. The Tiger front line subs are big, going 6-8, 6-8 and 6-9 across the lineup.

KEY MATCHUP

West Virginia forward Tyrone Sally vs. LSU forward Brandon Bass

While we don't expect to see lots of man-to-man from WVU against the far bigger Tigers, Sally will have to match Bass in scoring and on the boards if the Mountaineers are to have a chance to spring the upset on the road.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Sat 11/24 1:00 p.m.
Maravich Center
Records
WVU 2-0, 0-0
LSU 3-0, 0-0
Series
First Meeting
TV
Fox Sports Pittsburgh
RPI
WVU - 96
DU - 105
Sally, who burst out the gate against Duquesne only to have a quiet second half, can afford no such inconsistency against the Tigers. With fellow forward Mike Gansey hobbled by a bad thigh bruise, Sally is the team's only consistent take-it-to-the-hoop scoring threat. Despite his size disadvantage against the entire Tiger front line, Sally must try to take the ball aggressively to the basket and force the LSU defense to rotate and defend, hopefully with the result of creating some open three-point looks for teammates (in addition, of course, to some good shots for himself.

Sally, like many of the seniors on the Mountaineer football team, is not a vocal leader. However, many of WVU's players will likely be taking their cue from the smooth 6-7 forward in this game. He must be aggressive, force the action, and show no intimidation in the face of the bigger, stronger Tiger team.

Bass is the tough combination of a physical inside player with a soft shooting touch. He has yet to miss a free throw on the season, and when he gets the ball in the lane, a score usually results. West Virginia must prevent Bass from establishing himself in the post, otherwise it will be difficult for the Mountaineers to keep pace.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: Mike Gansey (thigh) Questionable

LSU: Tyrus Thomas (neck) Questionable

OUTLOOK

In case you didn't notice, all five of LSU's starters average in double figures in scoring. that's a dream for any coach, and a nightmare for the opposition. Who do you defend? Who do you leave to double team?

West Virginia doesn't have the speed or height to defend man-to-man, so look for WVU to change up between several different zone combinations. Unfortunately, LSU has the ability to post two big men on the blocks against WVU's 1-3-1 and attack it from the wing and along the baseline, which will be problematical for West Virginia to defend. The Mountaineers will likely have to play a good bit of 2-3 zone and hope that LSU is not on target from three point range.

Offensively, WVU must continue to work on its transition game in order to get a few easy chances. Duquesne showed a blueprint of how to play West Virginia - sag off the outside passing, double down quickly against Fischer when he gets the ball in the post, and hope the Mountaineers are off from behind the arc. LSU is even better equipped to execute a similar strategy, as they are quick enough to couble down, then get back out to the arc to at least harrass WVU three-point shooters.

To pull off the win, West Virginia will need to have three players shooting well from long range. If they can swing the ball to either side of the floor and make threes, they could force the Tigers out onto the perimeter, where WVU's disciplined screening and cutting offense might frustrate the home team. The Mountaineers also need D'or Fischer to shake off the funk that he fell into at Duquesne, where he sat out the last 12 minutes of the game after grwoing visible frustrated at the Dukes' double-teaming tactics. He has to realize that his value to the tam goes far beyond the points he scores. If he sits out 12 consecutive minutes in Baton Rogue, WVU will likely gather its first defeat of the season.

FAST BREAKS

Although the opposition hasn't been the finest, LSU has still achieved the impressive feat of scoring 40 points or more in their last five halves of basketball. The Tigers have scored more than 80 points in every game this season and have never lost a game under head coach Jon Brady when going over that figure.

West Virginia will obviously be looking to hold that number down, as they are unlikey to win scoring battle in the 80s on the road.

* * *

It's not a slam dunk, so many people won't be interested, but West Virginia has assists on 41 of its 51 field goals so far this year. That's na incredible stat, and is likely one of the best marks of that sort in the country - probably only Princeton could rival it.

If basketball were like hockey, where more than one player can be credited with an assist on a goal, then WVU would assuredly have more assists than made shots on the season.

* * *

The Maravich Center, homecourt of the Tigers, has a section of the concourse called Pete Maravich Pass. That's something of a misnomer, since Maravich rarely passed during his days at LSU. Maravich actually once committed to attend West Virginia before his father, Press Maravich, got the head coaching job at LSU.

The Maravich name is continuing to be heard at LSU, as Josh Maravich, Pete's son, is currently on the squad as a reserve guard. Josh, a junior, has seen just three minutes of action so far this season.


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