LSU Basketball: Big game tonight at the PMAC!


For LSU basketball, it’s showdown time tonight at the PMAC. The highly anticipated matchup with no. 1 ranked Kentucky is here.

Tip-off time for the sold out contest is 6:00 pm CT, and will be will be nationally-televised by ESPN with Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale and Shannon Spake.

Certainly, LSU is the underdog tonight. Given the way the Tigers have shown they can play, this team is more than capable of pulling off a huge upset.

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The Tigers enter the game with a record of with a record of 17-6 and 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference, while the top-ranked Wildcats remain undefeated at 23-0 and 10-0 in the league. On Saturday, LSU defeated Alabama, 71-60, while Kentucky beat Florida, 68-61.

Last season, LSU went 1-2 against Kentucky, defeating the Wildcats 87-82 in the “ice storm” game in the PMAC, then losing a heartbreaker in overtime at Rupp Arena 77-76. In the SEC Tournament, Kentucky had its way with LSU, winning 85-67.

LSU coach Johnny Jones said the following prior to yesterday’s practice about playing Kentucky:

"“After playing Alabama on Saturday, we are looking forward to another great challenge (Tuesday) night against the number one team in the country … Kentucky has been challenged in a lot of games this year and have done a tremendous job of overcoming a lot of obstacles and continue to be successful. We are looking forward to getting out in front of our tremendous crowd and having an opportunity to play against I think one of the best teams ever assembled in college basketball. It’s going to be a great challenge for us and one that we certainly look forward to.”"

For tonight’s game, LSU is expected to go with the same lineup it used on Saturday as Jalyn Patterson and Tim Quarterman moved into the starting role to join Keith Hornsby in a three-guard offense.

Patterson is averaging 5.4 points per game, Quarterman 12.3 points and Hornsby 12.5 points a game. Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin will start at forwards. Mickey is third in the league in scoring, second in rebounding in the SEC and sixth in the nation in block average (17.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.6 bpg). Martin is averaging 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds a game.

For John Calipari’s team, Kentucky is expected to start the seven footer Willie Cauley-Stein, the Harrison twins (Aaron-11.5 points per game; and Andrew), Dominique Hawkins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Kentucky owns an 85-25 all-time record against LSU, including 29-17 in Baton Rouge. Former LSU coach Dale Brown was able to get 18 of those victories.

LSU’s Keith Hornsby offered the following LSU’s underdog status tonight:

"“Since they’re the No. 1 team in the country, almost everybody can be an underdog against them. But at the same time, we’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time for a reason. We feel like we’re a worthy team to play Kentucky. I guess it’s almost OK to be called the underdog because it will give us more fight.”"

Tim Quarterman chimed in with the following:

"“They’re the No. 1 team in our conference and the No. 1 team in college basketball, so you can’t help but be excited as a player. At the same time, we can’t get caught up in the hype. We have to stay focused on the game.”"

A lot of talk and acknowledgement of Kentucky’s No. 1 status. Even though the Wildcats enter this game undefeated, they have come close to being upset a couple of times this year, most notably in razor-thin conference overtime wins against Ole Miss (89-86) and at Texas A&M (70-64 in double OT).

In order to have a puncher’s chance at prevailing tonight, LSU will have to play the way they did against West Virginia earlier in the year, and more recently in strong SEC wins against the likes of Georgia, Ole Miss and Florida.

Of course, Kentucky is light years ahead of those aforementioned SEC teams. LSU will have to play a focused game, and will have to know when to turn on the after-burners, as the Tigers typically go only 7-8 players deep. The Wildcats can go 10-11 deep, and they usually do.

The key tonight will be for the Tigers to be play with a tempered adrenaline, as they no doubt will be fired up. It’s okay to play with emotion, but LSU will to save some of that for late in the game.

One would think that Kentucky is due to lose eventually. Why not tonight?

Are you ready?