The LSU Tigers basketball team returns home for a three game set to both close out non-conference play and also open up SEC play over the next two weeks. Coming off another road win, 67-58 over North Texas, the Tigers are preparing to take center stage before SEC play opens up against Ole Miss on the 7th of January. Slowly but surely, the college basketball world is taking notice of the LSU Tigers.
It seems like every day, there is a new article out there mentioning the LSU team as a surprise team. The Tigers aren't ready to be ranked yet, as they didn't receive a vote in either the coach's or AP polls this week. It's understandable though, voters will want to see LSU prove that the Marquette win wasn't a fluke. They will get that chance next Monday when they welcome the Virginia Cavaliers to the PMAC for the non-conference finale.
First up, however, is the Grambling State Tigers (6pm, Cox Sports). Simply put, Grambling is one of, if not the worst team in Division 1 college basketball. Grambling's schedule thus far has consisted of 10 games, and 9 of them were road games. No game they have played has been closer than 28 points.
Essentially, this game is only one step above an exhibition. Teams like Grambling need the money that comes from giving other teams a free win at their home court. Without Grambling going on the road and being beat up by the rest of college basketball, they probably wouldn't be able to afford a division 1 team. At the end of the season, the SWAC will have a conference tournament to crown a champion, and send them off where they hopefully can win the play in game and have their shot at the 1 seed that awaits them.
Statistically, Grambling is horrible. They shoot very, very poorly, turn the ball over 20 times a game, and only score an average of 44 points a game. Peter Roberson is really the only player that might give LSU trouble, as he averages over 8 points and nearly 8 rebounds a game. Frankly, though, LSU will have more than enough size and talent to overwhelm him.
Unfortunately, I thought the Geaux Zone would have video of the previous game, but they don't. I didn't get to actually see the game with my eyes. It's obvious, however, that LSU has an identity now.
LSU is a forward oriented, defensive team. During this six game winning streak, LSU is yet to allow an opponent to score 60 points. The forwards have led the way through much of the stretch, especially with the absence of Andre Stringer. Luckily for LSU, Stringer was given clearance to practice, and may end up being able to play against Grambling. Whether he does or not really isn't important, but it would help to have him back for Virginia next week.
Even with Stringer back, the dynamic of the team shouldn't change. They found what works without Stringer's long range shooting, and they will need to stick with it. Justin Hamilton seems to have exceeded any expectations of him so far, and if he continues to play with the fire that he has LSU will be fine in SEC play this year. Storm Warren has continued to put up big numbers off the bench, and led the Tigers in scoring against the Mean Green. Johnny O'Bryant bounced back from a poor game against Marquette with a double double, while Malcolm White has continued his solid play with a 12 point game against UNT.
The guards, however, will need to have Stringer back to help with their balance. Anthony Hickey had a scoreless night, and showed that he still has work to do with his shooting after and 0-6 night, 0-4 from 3. Ralston Turner was so-so with 8 points on 4-7 shooting. I would take that for the rest of the year if the forwards production stays high though, and I'm sure coach would agree. Chris Bass continued to play his role well, and added 7 points. The rest of the team went scoreless as well, so there's definitely room for improvement from the guards overall.
Against Grambling, all LSU really needs to do is remain calm and stay fresh. It will provide a game for them to keep them in shape and ready for when Virginia comes to town on the 2nd. Needless to say, a loss to Grambling would be devastating, however I don't really think that is a possibility at all. Of course, anytime LSU has a game like this, fans can point back to South Alabama. You never really know in college sports, but this is as sure of a win as you will get.
Tip-off is set for 6:00 CT. This game can be found on the Geaux Zone and CST.