Mar 08, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; LSU Tigers forward Storm Warren (24) dunks the ball over Arkansas Razorbacks forward Devonta Abron (4) during the first half of the first round of the 2012 SEC Tournament at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE

NIT Preview: Oregon Vs. LSU

On Tuesday night the LSU Tigers travel to play Oregon in the first round on the NIT tournament. LSU found out Sunday night of its NIT destination, and had to rush to make travel arrangements to make the trip on time. Is that going to hurt LSU’s chances to win? Also, what do we need to know about the Oregon basketball team and what does LSU need to win the game? To start lets get familiar with the Oregon team.

When you turn on the tube at 8:30 for the opening tip-off you will notice that Oregon has a very strange looking basketball court. It isn’t like Vanderbilt, massive with the benches are on the sideline instead of the baseline. It has to do more with the colors on the court. It appears to be a part Rorschach test, and part Jackson Pollock painting. I am so confused by the look I consulted the deathvalleyvoice.com style consultant, my wife. After careful consideration and studying on the image here are our results: It looks like they accidentally stained the wood a darker shade than intended. Contractors tried stripping the stain back to the original wood finished in the center of the court, but they said “effe it, the color stays”. Since the schools spends so much money on football, they just did not have enough money to fix the court. This sounds much better than my idea which thought the court was to represent a duck nest and the middle of the court was a heaping pile of duck crap.

Moving onto the actual team, Oregon finished the 2011-2012 season with a 22-9 overall record and placed third in the inaugural PAC-12. The only reason the ducks are in this tournament and the big dance is only because of the weakness of the conference, not the team. Before losing to Colorado in the opening round of the conference tournament, Oregon had won six of their last seven games. The Ducks have been impressive at home posting a 15-3 mark (think the floor plays into that mark). Where the Ducks have struggled is against top-100 RPI opponents. On the season Oregon faced 13 teams ranked in the top-100 and lost eight of those games. In case you were wondering LSU has an RPI on 85.

When looking at the Oregon roster two things stand out. First, they can shoot the ball well (46% on the season) and they are deep (eight players averaging more than 18 minutes). Devoe Joseph is the teams leading scorer averaging 16 points per game. Joseph isn’t afraid to pull the trigger as he has average 17 shots attempts in his last two games, but on the season is shooting 47 percent. Garrett Sims and EJ Singler round out the front court for Oregon. Sims is averaging 12 points per game and shooting 49 percent. Singler averages 13 points and five rebounds per contest.

On the frontline, Oregon is led by Olu Ashaolou and Tony Woods. Both are big enough to match up with LSU’s front line, but don’t think they have the athleticism to match. Woods is a 6’11 250-pound center who is only averaging six points and three rebounds. You heard right, three rebounds! Ashaolou is performing a little better with eight points and five boards.

Oregon has a height advantage at the guard position, but will they be able to take advantage of it? Combined the starting guards are shooting 48 percent on the year, can Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer pressure Oregon’s shots? LSU shouldn’t have a problem scoring against Oregon. The Ducks are allowing teams to score 67 points against them and shoot nearly 45 percent from the field.

Keys to LSU Victory

LSU will need to follow the same game plan they used in the SEC tournament. For starters, Justin Hamilton, Johnny O’Bryant and Storm Warren will need to carry the team and avoid long stints on the bench in foul trouble. JOB missed too much time against Kentucky and LSU had a chance with him in the game to win it. JOB is needed to his defensive and rebounding intensity, Hamilton and Warren just need to stay aggressive on the offensive end and try to dominate the Oregon interior.

If the LSU backcourt begins to launch up dumb/quick shots from three early on, this game might become a blow out. LSU needs to slow the game down and allow Hickey and Stringer to shoot the ball only after the ball has gone down on the low blocks. If LSU can limit Oregon’s possessions and be more efficient on the offensive end, they will have a chance to win the game.

Not wanting to be a Debbie Downer, but I would be shocked if the Tigers pull off the upset. I am not saying they aren’t as talented, LSU is. I am just looking at the amount of traveling the team has done in the last 24 hours and the lack of preparations. While Oregon just get to sit back and get ready. Add to that, LSU is only 6-9 outside the state of Louisiana, so expecting the win probably isn’t the right approach. A win is possible if the Tigers can continue to improve upon their most recent play, but as the season as showed us the only consistent thing about this squad is their inconsistency.

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Tags: Andre Stringer Anthony Hickey Devoe Joseph Ej Singler Garrett Sims Justin Hamilton LSU NIT Tournament Olu Ashaolou Oregon Storm Warren Johnny O'bryant Tony Woods

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