Fresh off a relatively easy win against UNC-Wilmington Sunday afternoon, the Tigers (5-2) will take on their toughest opponent thus far outside of Maui in the Houston Cougars (8-1).
Houston is currently ranked 44th in the nation (to LSU’s 87th) by KenPom, and are currently credited with the 32nd best offense and the 68th best defense. They beat a very good Arkansas team by 26 while everyone was watching conference championship games, and boast a neutral site win over Wake Forest for good measure. Both of those wins are huge and makes this team kind of scary. What makes this team confusing is their lone loss to Drexel, granted that was almost a full month ago.
LSU’s two losses were no mystery: the Tigers have a bad defense and lost to very, very good offenses. As a matter of fact, Notre Dame and Marquette’s offenses are now rated as the 7th and 13th best in the country, respectively. I realize this team has a couple more games and a few more practices under their belt since those losses, but Houston will be the third best offense they’ll have faced at this point.
Of course, it’s pretty obvious to say LSU will need to play out of their minds on defense to have a shot tonight, but that’s especially true when you consider that rebounding and defending the three point shot are two of their most glaring weaknesses. Houston is 15th in the country in offensive rebounding, and 18th in three point shooting.
That’s not at all to act like everything’s doom and gloom with tonight’s matchup. The Tigers could easily surprise me, play their best game since Michigan, and build some huge momentum as they close out the nonconference schedule. LSU may need to win tonight if they want the confidence to beat Kentucky or Texas A&M. Memphis will be another huge test, but you’ve got to prove you can win big games in your own stadium to be taken seriously. Simply put, this is a big, big game for the Tigers.
Projected Houston Cougars Starting 5
#32 G - Rob Gray: 21.6ppg, 3.5apg, 30.5 minutes
#15 F - Devin Davis: 13.1ppg, 7.4rpg, 27.9 minutes
#5 G - Corey Davis: 9.6ppg, 3.0apg, 25.6 minutes
#12 F - Wes VanBeck: 11.0ppg, 3.6rpg, 25.0 minutes
#25 G - Galen Robinson: 3.7ppg, 3.6apg, 22.3 minutes
The Tigers and Cougars tip off at 8pm on the SEC Network. You can listen on the radio at 98.1 FM, or follow along in the comments below or on Twitter for my bad live tweets @marq113.