As comfortable as I feel about the Tigers basketball team right now, I've learned enough this season to know that there's absolutely nothing you can count on. Florida looked like they were invincible at the start of the season and at the start of the SEC season and have since fallen three times to teams on or near the bubble at the time of their games. Tennessee looked awful for much of this year, and now finds themselves in the hunt for an NCAA at large bid. Ole Miss looked like they had one in sight, and have done nothing to cement that position. Missouri has, but they've put themselves into a position that won't allow them an easy path to the second weekend.
Despite all of the up and down play that has been going on around the SEC, the Tigers have quietly become quite consistent. They've defended the home court well, and haven't lost since an overtime loss to South Carolina in January. They've picked up a couple of road wins, and been competitive on mostly every road trip since January. Johnny O'Bryant is positioning himself to be an All SEC player this year and perhaps a preseason pick to be SEC player of the year next year should he decide to return.
It would have been easy to give up on the team when they started off 0-4 in SEC play. It would have been easy to turn the game off as they trailed by 15 to Texas AM at 0-4. It would have been easy to turn off the most recent game against Alabama as they were down 10 late. Somehow, Johnny Jones has been able to pull the team together after tough losses and keep them going. That's the way the Tigers will have to continue to play if they want to win the SEC tournament(which is still clearly as wide open as ever). Instead of getting a game to adjust, they will simply get a halftime to adjust.
At this point, though, the Tigers still could finish the season with 20 wins, which would be impressive considering that last year's team only managed 18 with a team that was seemingly more talented(of course it needs to be noted that the SEC schedule features two more games).
Arkansas is a beatable team. They like to shoot themselves into and out of games, and they like to play uptempo like the Tigers. Marshawn Powell is a great offensive counter to Johnny O'Bryant, while BJ Young is a good example of the player we'd like Anthony Hickey to become. There's quite a few similarities between both teams, the only difference is that maybe Arkansas is a little bit further along in their development.
This game is unlike any game the Tigers will play is year, Arkansas is willing and able to play the same style as LSU. They won't shy away from a score in the 90s if they can get to it. The goal for the Tigers, today, is ball control. There will be rebounds, steals, and blocks available all game for both teams. The turnover battle will essentially decide the game. It's not something that LSU has been particularly good with this season, so it may mean that LSU will have to score in half court sets as opposed to running and gunning with more turnovers. Of course, as much as LSU likes to run, it also takes JOB3 out of the offense, so they may need to rely on Shavon Coleman a lot more.
Vegas gives the small edge to the Tigers at home as LSU is a 1.5 point favorite. An over/under of 148 is high and reflects that both teams will look to score a lot. I'm not one to bet against trends, and the trend for two seasons is that Arkansas can't win away games. I'd take the Tigers, but wouldn't touch the over/under because it's higher than we've seen this year.
Game time is set for 7:00 CT and the game can be seen on the SEC Network (Alexandria-KLAX-DT2; Baton Rouge-WBXH; Lafayette-KADN; Monroe-KARD; New Orleans-WUPL; Shreveport-KSHV) and ESPN3.