Unfortunately for LSU, there's really not much to gain and a lot more to lose by being forced to travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. A win here really doesn't mean much in terms of postseason aspirations, since TTU will likely be near the bottom of the Big 12, and a loss hurts because of the same reason. As we have seen in recent years though, the Tigers aren't at a level yet where they can consistently and easily win on the road yet. Thus far in his career at LSU, Johnny Jones has only a 4-9 record in road games, and doesn't really even have a win that sticks out as impressive. One good thing is that we can expect LSU to play up to the level of superior opponents on the road, but we can also expect to see LSU drop games to inferior opponents pretty regularly as well.
For the Tigers, the key will likely be shooting in this game. It always seems that the good games on the road for LSU happen when Stringer and Hickey are able to knock down about 5 or 6 three pointers to keep the defense honest. One change this season is the emergence of Jordan Mickey down low along side Johnny O'Bryant. At this point now, Mickey may actually be statistically better than JOB, as he averages nearly 4 blocks a game to go along with his 14 points and nearly 9 rebounds, which are both right at what O'Bryant averages. He has a higher field goal and shooting percentage than JOB as well.
It's certainly surprising that Mickey is this much of a force this early into his career, especially since it was possible that he wasn't even going to be playing this year after some high school transcript problems. One thing I will say that Mickey already does better than O'Bryant is read defenses. As we saw in the win against ULM, he has a knack for finding openings and it resulted in game changing, momentum shifting dunks from offensive rebounds. Although LSU didn't win by a truly comfortable margin, the game was essentially over following his second half dunks. Some frustration turnovers led to easy LSU layups that put the game out of reach. LSU cruised to victory, in my opinion, due to Mickey's back to back dunks.
One thing that I have come to realize with this team, though, is that we may not ever see a bench scorer emerge that will be able to consistently get both minutes and points. It seems as though it could be a blessing, as whoever the hot hand is will get lots of time, and a curse, because we just don't have that kind of player available. Sometimes I think it will be Shavon Coleman, but he's very up and down and doesn't really have a clearly defined role anymore. Other times I think it will be Malik Morgan, but he isn't shooting well enough to be that player. If the upperclassmen and the star freshmen can continue at their pace, LSU will be fine and will be difficult to beat in postseason play, but consistent play is what gets you there.
For tonight's game, I think LSU does indeed pick up a win. Across the board, LSU does have more talent and I think that it is a game that will go according to plan for the Tigers. Jordan Tolbert is a legitimate thread on the inside, but there isn't a TTU player to really worry about from the outside just yet. LSU can afford to surround and frustrate him even if it means giving up some open looks. They will need to force the ball out of his hands and hopefully into turnovers that the Tigers can score easy baskets from. TTU averages less turnovers than the Tigers at 12 a game, but I think a press heavy game could up that number for LSU.
Game time is set for 8:00 CT and the game can be seen on ESPNU nationally along with the WatchESPN app.