This past weekend LSU pulled out a relatively easy 64-45 win over the Boise State Broncos. Prior to the game BSU was 8-1, though they hadn't been tested against a team with superior athletes like LSU has. Vegas thought it would be close, and LSU was only giving up a point. As pointed out by PodKatt prior to the game, LSU was without both Andre String and John Isaac. This gave Eddie Ludwig the start, and Eddie played pretty well, leading the game with 9 rebounds.
Overall, it was a night for Trent to mess around with the lineup to see what would work and how the bench players would react in game action that wasn't "garbage time". Even just glancing at the box score shows how well the bench players played. Chris Bass only scored 2 points, but dished out 5 assists with no turnovers. Jalen Courtney hit a big 3 pointer, though that was the only set of points he scored. Storm Warren continued to be the 6th man, a role that he has actually been very good at with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
After thinking about it, it's actually not all that strange for a coach to start an inferior player and bring in a better player off the bench. Jim Calhoun does it quite a bit, as does Jim Boeheim in the Big East. John Calipari brings in his senior Darius Miller off the bench, as well. It remains to be seen whether it will work for LSU, but the initial signs are good.
As for the starters, the other 4 played very well. Johnny O'Bryant and Justin Hamilton combined for 24 points, 16 rebounds, all while shooting 10-13 combined. Add in what Storm Warren did and it's easy to see that LSU dominated inside, closer to what I thought they would do all season. Hickey and Turner were less effective, but Hickey continued to fill up the stat sheet just as he does most every other game.
Next up is the University of California - Irvine Anteaters, UC Irvine or UCI is the more common names though. Irvine isn't much of a basketball school, and haven't made the NCAA tournament ever. They've been very, very close, though. See the video below.
Top 10 Championship Week Moments 2006 (via shandeezy7)
This year likely isn't going to be the year for the Anteaters, either. They come into Baton Rouge with a 2-7 record and will be coming all the way from Wyoming where they had a game just two days ago. UCI was the worst team in the Great Alaska Shootout this year, losing to division 2 Alaska-Anchorage, along with Central Michigan and Southern Mississippi.
UC Irvine has a really young team, featuring 8 freshmen and zero seniors. They actually will have an edge over LSU with their size, but I don't think they will have any other advantages after that. The only area other than size will be team depth.
LSU will once again be without Andre Stringer who is having undiagnosed medical problems. John Isaac is listed as questionable with a minor knee injury. I'd have to think he will be out for this game, just to give it a little bit more time to be rested up for Marquette who comes in next week.
What to look for in this game? Perhaps a decent battle to get our forwards a little bit more confidence before SEC play. UCI has a lot of size and averages 40 rebounds per game which is a decent number. Though their schedule, like Boise's, has been pretty weak so far, they provide a match up that will get LSU some experience. I don't think UCI is much of a threat to win this game, though it's certainly possible after having seen how South Alabama rallied to beat us earlier in the year.
Junior Daman Starring has been the best player for UCI thus far, shooting three's at over 50%. Two other players are above 40%, so if LSU doesn't play defense there's a possibility UCI could keep it close. However, I don't think UCI has the overall talent or experience to be able to stop the combination of O'Bryant, Hamilton, and Warren down low. I think we'll see a relatively similar stat line from those three as we did against Boise.
Vegas expects LSU to win by about 5 scores, or between 13 and 15 points. I think that's a pretty good indication of how the game will go, something like 68-54 LSU. I don't think LSU will play too fast paced of a game to give UCI enough chances to score, and I think our defense will keep them in check.
The game will be on CST for the locals and the Geaux Zone for out of market. Tipoff is set for 7:00 CT in the PMAC.