Most casual basketball fans would look over a game against UAB as a meaningless non-conference game before the Christmas holiday, and in the past you would be right. The Blazers had hovered around .500 for the past two seasons and weren't showing much promise. This year however is a different story. UAB has started out with a 9-2 record, including an upset over then-No. 16 North Carolina and narrowly missing another one, losing to then-No. 19 New Mexico in double overtime. Not only that, this team knows how to rebound, leading the NCAA by averaging 48.2 RPG. Needless to say, Johnny O and Jordan Mickey will have their work cut out for them on the glass.
LSU comes into this game before having a week off until their next game against McNeese State by nearing blowing a 9-point lead with 3:30 left against Texas Tech three days earlier. The Tigers got a solid shooting performance from Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, along with a strong outing by Shavon Coleman off the bench, who may be unseating Jarell Martin as a starter due to his lack of comfort at the small forward position.
Either way, this game will be decided down low, especially on the glass on both ends. LSU, who ranks 13th in the nation with 42.4 RPG were held to only 27 and out-rebounded by one against the Red Raiders, who rank a solid 359th in the country in that stat category. The Blazers are a team that loves their second chance points with nearly 17 offensive rebounds per game, which will force the Tigers to crash the defensive glass to limit those opportunities. They will need a much better performance from O'Bryant on the glass, who had a whole one rebound against the Red Raiders. The Tigers will get beat down if that happens again
The problem LSU has faced with their team is consistency from their players on a nightly basis. Makes you feel like ole Forrest Gump because you just never know what you're going to get from each player. This team will definitely need to find that quickly because in a tough conference, inconsistency will rear its ugly head and this team will run into trouble. Another thing Johnny Jones will need to do is find a way to get Jarell Martin more involved. I know he may be out of place as a small forward, but you need to get production from your 5-star recruit and potentially most all-around talented player on the team. You get him going and that will go a long way in determining where this team will be in SEC play and where this team will be come March.
I think this will be another close, hard-fought battle that will see LSU come out on top. If they control the boards, then they will control the game. With guys like O'Bryant, Mickey, Coleman and Martin, they have the talent to put a solid attack to the glass. The inside-out game will be important on offense and will help keep the Blazers off the glass.