LSU will face its second biggest test of the season when they travel to the Hump Wednesday night to play the Bulldogs. No need for the Tigers to have sweaty palms, this one game that the Tigers can win.
For the first time in nearly a month, LSU will be completely healthy. Johnny O’Bryant is expect to return to the court after missing the last month with a hand injury. O’Bryant’s play hasn’t been stellar, but he adds depth to the LSU front line that has been obvious in his absence. LSU was able to dominate the glass before O’Bryant went out, but without him, Justin Hamilton has struggled to carry the load on his own. With O’Bryant back, Storm Warren can return to coming off the bench and relieving Hamilton for a few minutes, while still contributing offensively. LSU has struggled in recently due to foul trouble by Warren due to his poor defense.
LSU will need all of their bigs as they try to shut down the top player in the SEC. Arnett Moutre has been a force on the interior in his first year as a Bulldog. He is in the top five in the SEC in scoring with 16 point per game and leads the conference with 11 rebounds per game. The 6’11, 250 pound forward is shooting 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from three (4-8). Moutre is a great all around player and will give Hamilton, Warren and Malcolm White all he can handle.
Surrounding Moltre, literally, is the mass of man called Renardo Sidney. Sidney weighs in at 280, but only because that is where the scale maxed out at. Sidney is averaging 10 points and four rebounds and has shut down their opponents inside game when he is one the floor. I say when he is on the floor due to the amount of fouls Sidney accumulates. Which is a lot, but when you are his build; you try to play defense for a entire game.
Entering his tenth season with the Bulldogs, Dee Bost is as good of a guard as there is in the SEC. Bost is also in the top five in scoring with 16 points per game and trails only LSU’s Anthony Hickey in steals per game. Bost is a complete player and will be a very tough match up for Hickey, Chris Bass or Andre Stringer.
I said earlier that I think LSU has a chance mainly due to LSU win last year in Starkville. LSU won the game 84-82 and they were terrible. This team is much more complete, but Justin Hamilton will need some help for the Tigers to get the win. Even in the loss Saturday, LSU showed improvement in a lot of areas. Ralston Turner, when he wasn’t in foul trouble, started to show his aggressiveness at going to the rim for easier shots. He has a great shot, but until teams respect that he is more than a spot up shooter, Turner will struggle with consistency. What we need to see is for Turner, Hamilton and Hickey to become the key scorers for LSU and limit the amount of shots that Andre Stringer takes. If they can do that, they have a great chance.
Both teams enter the game only separated by one game. State is 3-2 and LSU is 2-3 in the SEC. State does have strong wins against Texas A&M, Alabama and Vanderbilt, but lost to Ole Miss. With no more divisions, this game is huge for both teams. For State, a win can separate them from the average teams and supplant them among the best teams in the conference. LSU needs the win to avoid being grouped with the bottom of the SEC.
The game will air at 7:00, and will be televised on the SEC network (check local listings) and online at watchespn.com