The LSU Tigers just keep getting to 16 at the blackjack table and getting a 5. It’s crazy, but it keeps happening: LSU plays another one-possession game and wins it. The Will Wade wonderboys keep finding ways to get into trouble but ultimately escape intact.
By Matt Zemek
A very shaky and inconsistent non-conference season has turned into a very successful SEC season. After a road win in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, LSU now has a non-conference victory to show to the selection committee. Everything’s coming up roses for this team.
Yet, there is still a month and a half before Selection Sunday. LSU must continue to make its case, knowing that plenty of challenges await. Alabama, like LSU, has gotten better as the season has moved along. This figures to be a very tough test against an opponent which is gaining a clearer sense of itself. Let’s see what LSU has to do to stem the Crimson Tide.
1 – Free Throws
This is a mammoth key to Wednesday’s game. Alabama earned 37 free throws against Kansas State and used that to outscore the Wildcats by 15 points at the foul line in a game they won by three points, 77-74. LSU, on the other hand, allowed just six free throws to Texas this past Saturday, which is an incredible display of defensive discipline. The differential between Alabama’s free throws earned and LSU’s free throws allowed in the two teams’ most recent games is therefore 31 foul shots. Which team will win the tug of war here? That will have a big impact on the outcome.
2 – LSU ball security against extended defensive pressure
Alabama likes to be aggressive on defense. The Crimson Tide have very active perimeter defenders, and coach Nate Oats (we saw this with him when he coached the University of Buffalo) wants his players to be very proactive on defense instead of sitting back. LSU, meanwhile, almost lost to Texas because it didn’t react well to extended defensive pressure from the Longhorns, especially in the backcourt. Texas coach Shaka Smart is known for using the “HAVOC” defense he brought with him from Virginia Commonwealth. When Smart pressed LSU, the Tigers didn’t handle the defensive change-up. They will need to be prepared for LSU’s defensive maneuvers, especially any traps or double-teams, in this contest.
3 – Mays and Smart and scoring art
Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart scored 10 points apiece, and yet LSU was able to beat Texas with its defense. Mays and Smart will definitely need to score a lot more than 20 combined points to beat Alabama. This is a night for the two of them to get more involved and finish more plays. They combined to hit only one 3-point shot against Texas. That has to change in a big way.