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Tigers @ Volunteers Preview and GameThread (4:30 pm, ESPNU)

Tigers head into Knoxville for a must-win tilt with the Vols

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I guess we're not out of the woods yet.

After an encouraging win against the Aggies last week, the Tigers head to Knoxville to play a bottom of the league Volunteers squad. Dropping the trap game to Bama (in particularly ugly fashion, at home) on Thursday was bad, and the Tigers need get through these next two road games with efficiency and put in strong showings against Florida and Kentucky to cement themselves a solid tournament spot (I think that they're still a shoe in, but they could get stuck with a double-digit seed in the region of death if they aren't careful.)

It's the same song and dance for this LSU squad: Play solid defense, get out in transition when you can, and play around Victor post-ups in the half-court. Minimize mistakes, continue to try find and find a groove on defense (though there's not much hope for that), and hope that threes fall (which would be aided by an ability to quality shots from distance, if that existed). Tennessee's defense is even worse than Tigers, so this would be a good opportunity for Jones to try out some new stuff on offense (don't hold your breath.)

This Volunteers team is led by Senior guard Kevin Punter, a gifted scorer, who's averaging 22.2, 3.5 and 3.5 so far this year. As Punter goes, so goes the volunteers. Quarterman will likely draw the opportunity to check him, and that's a match-up that favors the Tigers (while he hasn't played his best ball this season, TQ is still lock-down defender when he wants to be.) Aside from Punter, there's not many Vols that really stand-out; they play together and share the ball willingly, but their aggregate talent is very low.

Yes, we're technically back in "must-win" territory. If the Tigers drop this one, all hell will break loose. If they somehow manage to lose here and against Mizzou at home, they may have very well pissed their tournament hopes down the drain. I don't envision that happening, and especially given the disappointing loss to Bama, this looks like a comfortable win for what-should be a motivated LSU group. Who knows, though... Jones has put many games in jeopardy that shouldn't be with poor coaching decisions and if Victor picks up early fouls, this could be anyone's game. Let's remember, Simmons and company have not faired well on the road by any means this year. Still, I'm predicting an LSU win here, and hopefully an encouraging performance given the potential make-or-break match-up with the Gators next weekend.