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PREVIEW: #8 Arkansas vs. LSU

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Arkansas Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: LSU Tigers
Date: Saturday, March 13
Time: 2:30PM(30 minutes after the end of the Alabama/Tennessee game)
Place: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
TV/Streaming: ESPN
All-Time Series: Arkansas Leads 38-33
All-Time Series at Neutral Site: LSU Leads 6-5

LSU Tigers 17-8

LSU comes into Saturday’s matchup having won 3 straight since their loss to Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena. The Tigers took care of business on Friday night against Ole miss who was looking to solidify their chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels somehow outrebounded LSU, but the Tigers won by 3.

Arkansas and LSU split their regular season matchups with the home team winning each contest.

LSU is the same team they have been all season. Cam Thomas is a scoring machine, Trendon Watford is a versatile player who gives defenders problems, and Darius Days is the unsuspecting key cog to the LSU wheel. As he goes, they go.

Darius Days has played in 7 of the 8 LSU losses. In 6 of those 7 games, Days has been held to under 10 points. Last time out against Arkansas, Darius Days was held scoreless. Arkansas found a way to frustrate him and he missed several open opportunities. He really spreads the floor for LSU.

LSU keys to the game:

-Rebound. The absence of Jaylin Williams for Arkansas should allow for 2nd chance opportunities.

-No Live Ball Turnovers.

-Pound The Paint.

Arkansas Razorbacks 21-5

Thinking about NCAA Tournament implications, Arkansas did what I wanted them to do. Solidify a 3 seed at worst. With other teams around them losing, the 3 seed should be locked up for the Hogs.

Now they can pursue a 2 seed. The bracket has worked out best for them to do this. Tonight’s win over Missouri was a Q1 and a win on Saturday would be a Q1 as well. It’s all icing on the cake at this point.

Yet again, Arkansas was faced with adversity on Friday night. Jaylin Williams was out again and will be on Saturday. The Hogs started poorly. Missouri was doing what they wanted defensively, but Arkansas had a run. This team has done so many times this year.

Let’s not forget that Oral Roberts was up 10 at halftime on these Razorbacks. Even though they are a far better team then, this team has always had some fight.

Knowing LSU’s scoring ability, they must be prepared to overcome a run or two. Cam Thomas is capable of having 7-0 runs by himself.

Arkansas cannot have foul trouble against LSU like it did against Missouri.

LSU is a much deeper team than Missouri. They throw athletic players out there that will crash the boards relentlessly. They’ll punish you for playing small.

I’m not sure small ball will work against LSU. We saw it be successful against Missouri, but LSU is just built differently.

What Arkansas cannot go through again is having Moses Moody and Jalen Tate have so little offensive production. Moses Moody was locked up. Get Moody going early. Let Tate be aggressive. LSU is poor defensively so we are definitely in for a high scoring game.

Arkansas keys to the game:

-Trust the offense. The Hogs played pick up ball for the first 8 minutes on Friday. It was stagnant. Not sure if it was coaching or execution, but Arkansas must use real sets to score on this LSU team. The Tigers are athletic enough to contain you when you iso every time. Real sets will score. We’ve seen it all year.

-Rebound. I know it feels like I say this every game, but it is so key on Saturday. Especially for the guards. It’s all hands on deck without Jaylin Williams.

-No live ball turnovers. A fast pace with lots of scoring is what we expect tomorrow. Free points in transition will likely be the difference in the game. Who can take care of the ball?

Prediction

Jaylin Williams will be sorely missed on Saturday. Arkansas is coming off an emotional win, but so is LSU. I’m just going with my gut here. I think the Tigers win a close one.

LSU 84 Arkansas 81