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On the Road Again...Thankfully?; LSU vs. Houston

After what can only be described as an extremely frustrating, seen it all before, WTF? are they doing, loss, the Tigers basketball team heads back onto the road for a couple of games against some decent competition. First up is the Houston Cougars, who take on the Tigers tonight at 7:00, and next is Saturday against Rutgers sometime when the football team is popping the champagne sparkling grape juice. The game against Rutgers is part of the SEC/Big East challenge which takes place over three days, December 1st through the 3rd. More on that later.

Before I go any further talking about Houston, I have to point out my disappointing thoughts from South Alabama's overtime win over LSU. It's become painfully evident that LSU does not have a way to beat pressure defenses. Whether they are of the 1-3-1 trapping variety from Northwestern, or the full court press from Alabama, LSU cannot beat it. The problem is evident whether you put in both bigger guards, such as Isaac and Turner, the smaller guard, Hickey and Stringer, or any combination of the three or four of them.

Trent literally tried every match up he could last game. South Alabama pretty much started the second half in a full court press, but got really serious with it about 10 minutes into the second half. That's when the lead quickly shrunk from 10 to nothing, and even became a deficit.

I held off saying it, until now, but there is a coaching problem. I pointed out to PodKatt during the game that the LSU press break does not look to ATTACK when confronted with a pressure defense. The only goal of the offense is to get the ball across half court and then set up a half court offense. There's literally no effort to make the opposing team pay for taking players and putting them out of position.

So what would I do? It's very simple. You need someone that can handle the ball at half court. My choice would probably be Turner. The goal needs to be to get him the ball ASAP. Once the ball is inbounded, the first look needs to be to Turner at half court. He immediately needs to turn and face, because it then becomes a simple 2 on 1 break that every basketball player practices their entire life. You have either White, Hamilton, or O'Bryant that can make a move, or simply pass back to Turner if he can beat his man.

Too often, the guards, mainly Stringer and Hickey, look to attack the defense by themselves, and get the ball stripped or trap themselves and force a bad pass. Their lack of height just adds to the problem, because they often have to jump to even make a pass. When they don't do this, they simply are passing it back and forth, two feet at a time moving up the court. It works most of the time, but when it didn't, South Alabama scored a quick 6 points to start their run.

Had LSU done this, they would have beaten South Alabama. Once SA started on their run, LSU started to play scared, afraid to make a pass, and afraid to go on offense. They were too worried about holding onto the possession, and not worried enough about scoring.

Now to look ahead to Houston. It's hard for a youngster like myself to believe that Houston has such a rich basketball history, but the older people would know of their back to back runs to the NCAA tournament title games. Houston is a team that started off quite hot, but has since taken steps back. Their peak so far this season was a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks, but they have since dropped games to Oakland(Michigan) and TCU.

As a team Houston scores quite a bit of points, and shoots the ball pretty well. They score just over 82 a game, and shoot at just under 50%, but ranking them in the top 25 nationally for those categories. The Cougars showed that they could handle the press against Arkansas, and I'm betting we will see them try it against LSU tonight. The Cougs don't have a lot of experience on the team, but so far it doesn't look to be bothering them, as they are being led by players of nearly every class.

Prediction for the game... LSU wins. I flipped a coin and it came up tails for an LSU win. Literally, that should show how much I really know about how this game will go. Vegas didn't help much, they only give Houston a point. If I were to seriously say what I think, I do think LSU pulls off a win. I hope with a week of rest that Trent got the team ready for an up and down game that they will get from Houston. I also was pleasantly surprised with how LSU was able to go .500 on the road earlier this year, so hopefully that bodes well for our chances tonight.

The keys will be:
Handle the pressure that will come
No foul trouble from forwards
Stay hot shooting three's

Note from PodKatt: The game is being broadcast LIVE on the CBS Sports Network, which is available on both dishes, but isn't on Cox Cable in any form. Check your local bar.