LSU opens up in the Old Spice Classic against another impressive A-10 team, the St. Joseph's Hawks. It's a great test for these Tigers, as St. Joe's is essentially like playing UMass again. Though UMass has risen quickly into the top 25 as they are still undefeated, St. Joe's is coming off a loss to Creighton.
As a team, the components are very similar to the Minutemen. Langston Galloway is a hot shooting guard from Baton Rouge that should finish his career shooting over 40% from three point range. He's their leading scorer and will likely put up an effort similar to Chaz Williams if LSU isn't able to get the ball out of his hands. I would expect him to put up 20 points against us, as LSU hasn't been the best three point defensive team.
Ronald Roberts Jr. is essentially the Raphiael Putney for St. Josep's as the teams second leading rebounder and senior leader. LSU currently leads the country in rebounding, however, Roberts will likely get his fair share of offensive rebounds against the Tigers. What LSU cannot allow him to do is turn them into easy baskets, as Roberts is currently shooting over 60% from the field.
The last key "player" for St. Joseph's is actually their head coach, Phil Martelli. Martelli is, in my opinion, one of the most under-rated coaches in the country. He's great at developing gameplans, and likely will have some tricks up his sleeve for this game. I think Johnny Jones can be a great coach for LSU, but I'm still not certain his substitution patterns and timing of defensive sets are always right. Martelli is the type of coach that can take a win because if minor mistakes are made.
For LSU, I think the key is Anthony Hickey. So far, he has been somewhat up and down. Some games he fills the stat sheet up, other games he scores but doesn't get all of the steals and rebounds we have become used to. So far, some of that may be because of reduced playing time overall with Tim Quarterman starting and getting decent minutes. I could imagine a bunch of scenarios in which LSU wins this game without Hickey scoring, however, the only way that would work is if he's active defensively and looking to set up Johnny O'Bryant or Andre Stringer.
As of right now, LSU enters the game as slight favorites and are giving up three points. I think that is pretty fair. I'm not sure I would really want to bet this game myself, as I think St. Joseph's will battle the entire way and it will be a back and forth game. However, I do think the Tigers will win this one, perhaps due to a clutch Stringer three with about two minutes left. It should be another high scoring game. With an over/under of 153, I would be a lot more tempted to take the over.
Game time is set for 7:30 CT and the game can be seen on ESPN2 nationally.