LSU basketball fans should be in for a treat Saturday night when the Tigers come home for the first game of the season against Northwestern State. Although LSU is coming off a 92-90 loss to UMass, they played well enough to justify their lofty expectations for this season. LSU isn't a particularly young team, however, there are a ton of new players that are still going to need to gel if LSU is going to make a run to the postseason.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, however, five star recruit Jarell Martin was lost early in the game to an ankle injury and never returned. He will once again be out for this game, and possibly a couple more at least. It's unclear how much of an impact he could have made at this point, but it did open the door for fellow freshman Jordan Mickey to have some extra playing time. Mickey used it to his advantage and finished with a double double in his first college game.
As one might expect, Johnny O'Bryant led the team and that will likely be a theme throughout this season as he finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer both played solid offensively and finished with over 30 points combined. Their long range shooting was a bit off, going 6-17 as a pair, but in a game where offense was key they did their part to help the Tigers.
With all of the depth that LSU has, they are going to have to find someone off the bench(other than Hickey who I almost consider a starter with his experience and amount of playing time). Shavon Coleman, Malik Morgan, and Shane Hammink finished with a combined 9 points in 47 minutes of playing time. With a year of experience, someone has to find a way to make an impact on the game, as the freshmen cannot be counted on to play like Mickey did all season.
Going into tonight's game, another key for LSU will be to obviously not foul as much. The NCAA rules are much stricter for this season, and as one might expect, Johnny Jones' style of aggressive play likely will result in more fouls. In half court play the Tigers need to be disciplined so that they have the opportunity to pressure the other team in full court sets.
As of right now, the game isn't listed in Vegas from what I can tell. If I had to guess, LSU would likely be single digit favorites of about 8-9 points at home, simply because Northwestern State was able to beat Auburn and because LSU tends to play teams like this close. I would probably take Northwestern in an instance like that since I think LSU pulls away late in this one to win by around 6-7 points.
Tip off is set for 7:00 CT. The game can only be seen on Geauxzone for TV.