Photo by Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
LSU Basketball

LSU needs to be the best of the rest

January 3, 2019
574

If you aren’t already a premium member of TigerBait, it’s time to give us a try. Subscribe now and enjoy all of the benefits of a subscription. Click here to join

The Southeastern Conference basketball schedule will start Saturday with five games to be played.

LSU is one of the four SEC teams who will not play Saturday. These four teams will make up this league game in late January when the rest of the conference is participating in the SEC-Big XII challenge.

The Tigers’ SEC opener will take place Tuesday when Alabama comes to the PMAC. The Crimson Tide will play Kentucky in its first conference game Saturday.

The first two months of the basketball season went as expected for SEC schools. There were four teams who were expected to be at the top of the league – Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn and Mississippi State. Entering league play, those four teams are the only ranked SEC teams.

LSU finds itself right where most college basketball analysts expected – not with the league’s elite teams, but poised to be the best of the remaining teams. For coach Will Wade to have a successful second season, a fifth-place conference would finish do the trick.

A fifth-place spot in the final league standings would mean a winning SEC record and a likely berth in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers will need to beat out a handful of teams – led by Florida, Georgia and Alabama – to be the No. 5 team.

Wade was satisfied with his team’s work in the pre-Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule.

“Our non-conference was average to a little above average,” Wade said. “Our opponents have won a lot of games. Only Kansas and Oklahoma had opponents with more victories than we had. We navigated the schedule as well as we could with what we have.

“I am pleased with what we did, but I am not thrilled. It was nothing to write home about. I wish we would have one extra win. It’s important to protect the home floor in conference and non-conference. We have started to establish that. The non-conference set us up for what we want to be – a good team.”

Wade hinted that LSU may use a bigger lineup when the SEC season begins. Marlon Taylor and Darius Days are going to get more minutes at the small forward spot. The Tigers will still use Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays and Je’vonte Smart together, but not as much as they did in non-conference play.

“I feel good about our eight-man rotation,” Wade said. “The SEC schedule will be an adjustment period for our freshmen. They will be playing against other people their size. They are not used to that. They will be facing length and athleticism they did not see in the non-conference.”

LSU has some good fortune with its SEC schedule as it will play each of the four best teams just once – Tennessee and Auburn at home and Kentucky and Mississippi State on the road. None of those teams appear on the first eight games of the Tigers’ league schedule.

“We need to get off to a quick start,” Wade said. “We have to keep putting the pedal to the metal. We needed to work on ourselves before the start of the conference. That’s why we have a long break before the Alabama game.”

 

Here is the predicted order of finish in the Southeastern Conference.

1.       TENNESSEE

Coach: Rick Barnes

Record: 11-1

Record vs. power conference opponents: 3-1 (beat Georgia Tech, Louisville and Wake Forest; lost to Kansas)

Team statistics

Points per game – UT 85.5, Opponents 66.4

FG shooting – UT 51.1%, Opponents 37.7%

3-point FG shooting – UT 34.9%, Opponents 29.7%

FT shooting – UT 72.3%, Opponents 65.4%

Rebound margin – plus-5.8

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.8

Top players

Grant Williams, 6-7, Jr. – 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds

Admiral Schofield, 6-6, Sr. – 18.2 points, 6.0 rebounds

Jordan Bone, 6-3, Jr. – 14.3 points, 6.5 assists

Kyle Alexander, 6-11, Sr. – 10.3 points, 6.8 rebounds

 

2.       KENTUCKY

Coach: John Calipari

Record: 10-2

Record vs. power conference opponents: 3-1 (beat Utah, North Carolina and Louisville; lost to Duke)

Team statistics

Points per game – UK 83.1, Opponents 69.4

FG shooting – UK 49.3%, Opponents 42.3%

3-point FG shooting – UK 36.0%, Opponents 38.0%

FT shooting – UK 74.4%, Opponents 68.8%

Rebound margin – plus-11.7

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.0

Top players

Keldon Johnson, 6-6, Fr. – 16.4 points, 5.5 rebounds

Reid Travis, 6-8, Sr. – 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds

Tyler Herro, 6-5, Fr. – 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds

PJ Washington, 6-8, So. – 12.6 points, 8.4 rebounds

 

3.       AUBURN

Coach: Bruce Pearl

Record: 11-2

Record vs. power conference opponents: 2-2 (beat Washington and Arizona; lost to Duke and North Carolina State)

Team statistics

Points per game – AU 85.2, Opponents 64.5

FG shooting – AU 46.3%, Opponents 41.1%

3-point FG shooting – AU 34.9%, Opponents 35.0%

FT shooting – AU 67.5%, Opponents 69.3%

Rebound margin – plus-5.5

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.3

Top players

Bryce Brown, 6-3, Sr. – 15.3 points, 2.4 assists

Jared Harper, 5-11, Jr. – 14.9 points, 6.8 assists

Austin Wiley, 6-11, Jr. – 11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds

Chuma Okeke, 6-8, So. – 10.7 points, 6.4 rebounds

 

4.       MISSISSIPPI STATE

Coach: Ben Howland

Record: 12-1

Record vs. power conference opponents: 1-1 (beat Clemson; lost to Arizona State)

Team statistics

Points per game – MSU 80.2, Opponents 66.7

FG shooting – MSU 48.2%, Opponents 42.8%

3-point FG shooting – MSU 38.2%, Opponents 33.8%

FT shooting – MSU 76.0%, Opponents 70.8%

Rebound margin – plus-6.7

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.3

Top players

Quinndary Weatherspoon, 6-4, Sr. – 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds

Lamar Peters, 6-0, Jr. – 13.2 points, 6.2 assists

Aric Holman, 6-10, Sr. – 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds

Tyson Carter, 6-4, Jr. – 10.5 points, 1.9 rebounds

 

5.       LSU

Coach: Will Wade

Record: 10-3

Record vs. power conference opponents: 0-2 (lost to Florida State and Oklahoma State)

Team statistics

Points per game – LSU 80.7, Opponents 70.0

FG shooting – LSU 46.3%, Opponents 41.1%

3-point FG shooting – LSU 33.1%, Opponents 35.8%

FT shooting – LSU 73.5%, Opponents 70.0%

Rebound margin – plus-4.4

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.0

Top players

Skylar Mays, 6-4, Jr. – 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds

Naz Reid, 6-10, Fr. – 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds

Tremont Waters, 5-11, So. – 12.5 points, 5.5 assists

Ja’vonte Smart, 6-4, Fr. – 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds

 

6.       FLORIDA

Coach: Mike White

Record: 8-4

Record vs. power conference opponents: 2-3 (beat Stanford and West Virginia; lost to Florida State, Oklahoma and Michigan State)

Team statistics

Points per game – UF 71.0, Opponents 59.8

FG shooting – UF 44.6%, Opponents 39.2%

3-point FG shooting – UF 35.6%, Opponents 29.6%

FT shooting – UF 64.8%, Opponents 68.4%

Rebound margin – plus-2.3

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.2

Top players

KeVaughn Allen, 6-2, Sr. – 10.3 points, 2.7 assists

Noah Locke, 6-3, Fr. – 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds

Deaundrae Ballard, 6-5, So. – 8.6 points, 2.0 rebounds

Keith Stone, 6-8, Jr. – 7.6 points, 4.8 rebounds

 

7.       GEORGIA

Coach: Tom Crean

Record: 8-4

Record vs. power conference opponents: 1-2 (beat Georgia Tech; lost to Clemson and Arizona State)

Team statistics

Points per game – UG 79.2, Opponents 70.5

FG shooting – UG 47.7%, Opponents 38.1%

3-point FG shooting – UG 34.6%, Opponents 29.9%

FT shooting – UG 73.8%, Opponents 66.8%

Rebound margin – plus-8.2

Assist/turnover ratio – 0.9

Top players

Rayshaun Hammonds, 6-8, So. – 15.0 points, 6.9 rebounds

Nicolas Claxton, 6-11, So. – 13.3 points, 10.2 rebounds

Tyree Crump, 6-1, Jr. – 11.2 points, 2.4 rebounds

Derek Ogbeide, 6-9, Sr. – 9.3 points, 6.4 rebounds

 

8.       ALABAMA

Coach: Avery Johnson

Record: 9-3

Record vs. power conference opponents: 2-0 (beat Arizona and Penn State)

Team statistics

Points per game – UA 76.5, Opponents 71.3

FG shooting – UA 45.7%, Opponents 44.2%

3-point FG shooting – UA 34.0%, Opponents 35.1%

FT shooting – UA 67.8%, Opponents 69.7%

Rebound margin – plus-6.7

Assist/turnover ratio – 0.9

Top players

Kira Lewis, 6-3, Fr. – 15.0 points, 3.1 assists

Donta Hall, 6-9, Sr. – 11.1 points, 8.2 rebounds

John Petty, 6-5, So. – 11.1 points, 5.2 rebounds

Tevin Mack, 6-6, Jr. – 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds

 

9.       VANDERBILT

Coach: Bryce Drew

Record: 9-3

Record vs. power conference opponents: 2-2 (beat Southern California and Arizona State; lost to North Carolina State and Kansas State)

Team statistics

Points per game – VU 82.9, Opponents 70.2

FG shooting – VU 47.3%, Opponents 39.6%

3-point FG shooting – VU 34.8%, Opponents 31.9%

FT shooting – VU 72.6%, Opponents 65.9%

Rebound margin – plus-5.8

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.1

Top players

Simisola Shittu, 6-10, Fr. – 14.4 points, 7.8 rebounds

Saben Lee, 6-2, So. – 12.5 points, 3.8 assists

Matt Ryan, 6-8, Jr. – 10.9 points, 3.4 rebounds

Joe Toye, 6-7, Sr. – 10.8 points, 3.5 rebounds

 

10.   OLE MISS

Coach: Kermit Davis

Record: 10-2

Record vs. power conference opponents: 1-0 (beat Baylor)

Team statistics

Points per game – OM 79.4, Opponents 66.1

FG shooting – OM 50.7%, Opponents 41.2%

3-point FG shooting – OM 38.6%, Opponents 34.9%

FT shooting – OM 75.7%, Opponents 73.9%

Rebound margin – plus-7.5

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.2

Top players

Breein Tyree, 6-2, Jr. – 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds

Terence Davis, 6-4, Sr. – 15.5 points, 5.2 rebounds

Devontae Shuler, 6-2, So. – 10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds

Bruce Stevens, 6-8, Sr. – 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds

 

11.   MISSOURI

Coach: Cuonzo Martin

Record: 9-3

Record vs. power conference opponents: 2-2 (beat Oregon State and Illinois; lost to Iowa State and Kansas State)

Team statistics

Points per game – MO 69.1, Opponents 63.2

FG shooting – MO 43.8%, Opponents 42.1%

3-point FG shooting – MO 39.3%, Opponents 32.7%

FT shooting – MO 69.0%, Opponents 62.3%

Rebound margin – plus-3.8

Assist/turnover ratio – 0.8

Top players

Jordan Geist, 6-2, Sr. – 13.9 points, 4.5 rebounds

Mark Smith, 6-4, So. – 12.0 points, 5.4 rebounds

Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-10, So. – 10.8 points, 6.7 rebounds

Kevin Puryear, 6-7, Sr. – 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds

 

12.   ARKANSAS

Coach: Mike Anderson

Record: 9-3

Record vs. power conference opponents: 1-2 (beat Indiana; lost to Texas and Georgia Tech)

Team statistics

Points per game – ARK 81.8, Opponents 70.2

FG shooting – ARK 46.0%, Opponents 38.8%

3-point FG shooting – ARK 35.6%, Opponents 30.3%

FT shooting – ARK 65.8%, Opponents 65.7%

Rebound margin – minus-1.5

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.4

Top players

Daniel Gafford, 6-11, So. – 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds

Joe Isaiah, 6-5, Fr. – 15.8 points, 2.3 rebounds

Mason Jones, 6-5, So. – 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds

Jalen Harris, 6-2, So. – 9.0 points, 6.7 assists

 

13.   TEXAS A&M

Coach: Billy Kennedy

Record: 6-5

Record vs. power conference opponents: 1-2 (beat Oregon State; lost to Minnesota and Washington)

Team statistics

Points per game – A&M 75.5, Opponents 71.0

FG shooting – A&M 45.1%, Opponents 40.2%

3-point FG shooting – A&M 29.1%, Opponents 32.4%

FT shooting – A&M 68.7%, Opponents 65.1%

Rebound margin – plus-5.3

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.0

Top players

TJ Starks, 6-2, So. – 13.5 points, 4.0 assists

Savion Flagg, 6-7, So. – 12.0 points, 7.6 rebounds

Christian Mekowulu, 6-8, Sr. – 11.0 points, 5.9 rebounds

Wendell Mitchell, 6-3, Jr. – 8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds

 

14.   SOUTH CAROLINA

Coach: Frank Martin

Record: 5-7

Record vs. power conference opponents: 0-3 (lost to Michigan, Virginia and Clemson)

Team statistics

Points per game – USC 74.1, Opponents 70.4

FG shooting – USC 42.1%, Opponents 40.9%

3-point FG shooting – USC 30.8%, Opponents 37.3%

FT shooting – USC 71.2%, Opponents 72.7%

Rebound margin – plus-1.8

Assist/turnover ratio – 1.0

Top players

A.J. Lawson, 6-6, Fr. – 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds

Chris Silva, 6-9, Sr. – 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds

Hassani Gravett, 6-2, Sr. – 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds

Keyshawn Bryant, 6-6, Fr. – 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds

 
×
Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.