LSU features a well-balanced offense that can score from inside and out. In the backcourt, guards Darrel Mitchell (Sr., 5-11, 280 lbs.) and Garrett Temple (Fr., 6-5, 175 lbs.) average 13.0 and 8.0 points per game, respectively, and provide a classic one-two punch to complement the strong front line. Mitchell is also the playmaker, having recorded 16 assists in two games thus far.
Another freshman, Ben Voogd, provides quality minutes as a backup at guard. Voogd (Fr., 6-1, 175 lbs.) is not a shooter, but directs things well, recording a better than 2-1 assist to turnover ratio while picking up three steals and seven rebounds in 47 minutes of action to date.
The Tigers are even stronger up front, where Glen "Big Baby" Davis (So., 6-9, 310 lbs.) is a forward in name only. He pounds the blocks and the lane, and has averaged a double-double to date, recording 18.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per outing. As if he's not trouble enough, fellow forwards Tasmin Mitchell (Fr., 6-7, 230 lbs.) and Darnell Lazare (Jr. 6-8, 240 lbs.) are both scoring in double figures as well. Mitchell, like Davis, has the double-double average, with 13 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, and also shows his athletic ability with three steals per contest. Lazare chips in ten points per game and has showed great improvement over a subpar sophomore year.
The embarrassment of riches continues up front with Tyrus Thomas, a redshirt freshman who leads the Tigers in scoring at 20.0 ppg off the bench. Thomas (Fr., 6-9, 215 lbs.) is a high leaping player with excellent accuracy (17-19 from the field in LSU's first two games).
Those expecting an automatic duplication of West Virginia's blowout win in Baton Rouge last year will be in for a rude awakening. This appears to be a different LSU team, with two freshman starters and a much more balanced look that a season ago. The Mountaineers, without D'or Fischer's presence inside, will have a much more difficult time of containing the Tigers' raging front line in this contest.
|Sat Nov 26|
WVU 2-2, 0-0
LSU 2-0, 0-0
WVU - 87
LSU - 162
Even if West Virginia doesn't score a lot in the lane, the Mountaineers must drive the ball at the basket in order to set up kick outs and spot up three point shooters. If the WVU offense lapses into a pass around the perimeter and fire up a long three sort of attack, it will be a long afternoon in the Coliseum.
LSU, on the other hand, looks to have improved by both addition and subtraction. The loss of star Brandon Bass, who may have dominated the ball a bit much on the offensive end, might end up helping the team, while newcomers Temple, Voogd, Thomas and Tasmin Mitchell have fit right in to the LSU system. The Tigers lead the SEC with seven freshmen and two sophomores on the roster – an indicator that the chemistry on this year's squad is vastly different than that of a year ago.
This is an important game for WVU, which won't have another RPI game until it meets Oklahoma almost a month from now. The Mountaineers need this home win to begin building a solid resume for March.
LSU's Tack Minor, who led the Tigers in scoring last year, will not play in the game due to a suspension. He will be eligible to return on Dec. 18.
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Saturday's crowd will be the first gathering of more than 10,000 to view a WVU home basketball game in the month of November.
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LSU has run up a prodigious 94.0 points per game in its first two blowout wins, and has done most of its damage from inside the arc. The Tigers are just 9-29 (31.0%) from long range in the two wins. Whether that was due to the defensive styles and abilities of the competition, or a solid indicator of where LSU's shooting ability lies, remains to be seen.
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LSU and WVU combine for 2,848 wins in their long histories. The Tigers have 1,304 victories in 97 years, while WVU has racked up 1,544 Ws in a like number of seasons.
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The Tiger's rebounding margin so far this year is a whopping +35.5 per game. Counteracting that figure is a sub par .59-1 assist to turnover ratio. For West Virginia to win the game, it will have to force turnovers from LSU before the Tigers can get the ball inside to their big front line. If the visitors get the ball inside the foul line consistently, they will gain revenge for the blowout loss of a year ago.