LSU and Kentucky Preview


Kentucky will look to continue their dominance in the SEC Saturday as they play LSU. Kentucky (20-1, 6-0) is without question playing the best basketball in the SEC right now. The Wildcats have won four of their six conference games by at least 13 points and are dominating the stats in the SEC.

As of Friday, Kentucky leads the conference in scoring margin (19.5), field goal percentage (48%), field goal defense (36%), rebounds per game and blocked shots (9.3). They are second in the conference in scoring offense (78), scoring defense (56), free throw percentage (71%) and are third in the conference in three point percentage and defense.

Unlike Mississippi State and Florida, Kentucky isn’t good, they are great. The Wildcats dose not have a player in the top ten in scoring, but has four scorers in the top 25. Freshman Anthony Davis is the best player for Kentucky. Davis is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds a game. Davis is somehow shooting 63 percent from the field and is a great player on the perimeter. Helping Davis on the inside is Michael Kidd-Gilcrest. Kidd is averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game. Also, Terrance Jones thought he should stay in school for another year. Jones isn’t having the year he hoped for early on, but is still giving Kentucky 11 points and six boards per game. Guard Doron Lamb is also scoring 13 points per game, and is shooting 46 percent from three point range.

Without question, Kentucky will have the best starting five on the floor, but for some reason the production drops off steeply after their best five. I’m not saying this is going to give LSU an advantage, but LSU should be able to play with Kentucky the entire day. LSU shouldn’t have a chance to win this game, but keep in mind that home court advantage is huge in conference play. Florida only beat Ole Miss 64-60 last night at Oxford, so anything is possible. Here are a few keys for LSU to keep the game close, or pull off the upset.

Slow the game down:

LSU’s inability to do this against Florida is what I believe cost them the game. Kentucky is going to use a full court press for most of the game. Can point guards Anthony Hickey and Chris Bass break the press, then manage the team into some sort of half-court offense. If they have another half like the first half at Florida, this will be a run away. Keep in mind that the second half of the Florida game, LSU tied the Gators 38-38.

Get the ball inside on every possession:

If LSU has any advantage on offense it is Justin Hamilton. Due to his stellar play the last few game, teams are having to double-team the 7′ ft. center. LSU needs to run the offense through him down low to try to set up easier shots for the other players. This also goes along with my first key in slowing the game down. Even if Hamilton doesn’t score 20 points, if he can raise his assist totals, this will help keep the game close.

No stupid shots:

This is directed right at Andre Stringer, Anthony Hickey and Ralston Turner. LSU needs to eliminate the 25 ft shot with :20 seconds or more on the shot clock. The very low percentage shot will only help Kentucky keep their up tempo game alive, which is not good for LSU. I have a bad feeling that because of the success with Hickey and Stringers deep shooting at Mississippi State, the two will not hesitate to pull the trigger fast. These three guys can all shot the rock, but they can also drive the ball to set up easier shots. The later is what the Tigers need.

Avoid dumb fouls and score when time is stopped:

Really this goes with out saying. Two of the three articles this week on the basketball team has addressed this issue. Mississippi State made 15 more free throws than LSU. LSU has to avoid the cheap hand check fouls and play solid defense. The team that usually wins in this stat, usually wins the game. So lowering the fouls and making free throws is a good idea.

If and a big if the Tigers can do this they have a chance to stay in the game with Kentucky. What we are looking for in this game is for LSU to show they can play with the top teams in the country. Keep in mind that the last two games against the Wildcats, LSU lost by 38 (2011) and 29 (2010).