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Preview/GameThread: Arkansas at LSU (SECN, 7:30)

The Tigers look to keep pace in the SEC against a surging Hogs squad.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There's nothing complicated about this one. It's a pure must-win for LSU.

The Razorbacks have an identical 3-1 SEC record to the Tigers, but Arkansas will likely not be a valuable win or horrible loss for tournament purposes. They went 6-6 in non-conference play and have yet to hit the meat of their league slate. No more, as a road game in the PMAC is a fairly daunting challenge this season.

LSU, for all its issues, has protected home court well. The Tigers are 9-1 in the building this season and generally drop a lot of points on the opposition. Arkansas wants to get out and run at all costs, so expect a high-scoring affair. Even the Vegas line has an over-under line in the 160s. Transition dunks should be in abundant supply.

That's good news for Ben Simmons, who has had his struggles playing the ISO game of late. The foul trouble against Ole Miss hampered him, sure, but he was a bit out of rhythm all game and made some horrendous decisions. Though he was often transcendent in the Florida loss, turnovers were still a major issue. A free-flowing, full-court game suits his game much better and a monster game wouldn't be surprising.

He'll likely go up against 6-10 Arkansas forward Moses Kingsley, and that's this game premier matchup. Kingsley has been about all the Razorbacks have had inside this season while nearly averaging a double-double. The Nigerian native has made huge strides as a junior from his underclassmen days, when he was a non-descript reserve piece on some good Arkansas teams. While not as quick as Simmons, he should at least have the length to challenge Simmons near the rim.

Elsewhere, LSU has the distinct advantage in the backcourt, where Arky is pretty inexperienced. The focus should be on keeping Antonio Blakeney rolling after a breakout 15-point second half on Wednesday. In that same vein, LSU could really use some shooting help from Brandon Sampson and/or Jalyn Patterson. Both have been slow to contribute with playing time and injury issues but the Tigers need their backcourt depth to offset a thinner front line. With Texas A&M and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, this is the time to make it happen.

Overall, it should be an exciting game given the teams' uptempo proclivites. Beyond that, the game carries a lot of significance, as LSU can stay a game back of A&M in the SEC heading into a showdown in College Station. It's a big game, although pretty much every game left is until LSU wins enough to feel secure or loses enough to be out of it. With that in mind, expect a tight game.