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GAMETHREAD: Basketball at #18 Tennessee, 5:30pm, SEC Network

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Short-handed Tigers head to Knoxville with only two forwards

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a 25 point shellacking by Auburn this past weekend, the LSU Tigers (12-8, 3-5) travel to Knoxville this evening to take on yet another ranked team in the #18 Tennessee Volunteers (15-5, 5-3). After a pair of dismissals and a pair of suspensions for this game, the Tigers are left with three forwards on their active roster, only two available for tonight.

The Volunteers entered conference play with a 9-2 record, boasting wins over an ACC trio of NC State, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. Their most impressive win was an overtime battle against Purdue in the Bahamas, one of only two losses for Purdue this season. Their only non-conference losses happened against #19 North Carolina and top-ranked Villanova.

Tennessee immediately dropped their first two SEC games, an overtime shootout against Arkansas, and a ten point loss to Auburn. They’ve gone 6-1 since that skid, and now share fourth place in the SEC with Alabama.

A large contributor to LSU’s blowout loss this past weekend was Auburn’s immediate explosiveness and quick tempo right after the tip off. By the time the first media timeout came around, LSU already found themselves down by 13. I realize that Auburn was shooting out of their minds, but LSU just could not keep up with their tempo at the beginning, setting a disastrous tone for the rest of the game. Fortunately for the Tigers this evening, Tennessee has a very similar pace to LSU’s. This game may get out of hand, but at least it probably won’t happen before we’re even ten minutes in.

Tennessee’s largest contributor is sophomore Grant Williams. The 6’7” power forward from Charlotte is currently rated as the second best player in the SEC according to KenPom. Williams has only failed to score 10+ points once in eight conference games, averaging 18.1 points in that span. One of his most impressive stat lines came in a win against Vanderbilt, where he scored 37 points, and recorded 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks.

Projected Tennessee Volunteers Starting 5

#2 PF - Grant Williams: 16.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 29.7 minutes

#5 PF - Admiral Schofield: 12.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 26.5 minutes

#1 SG - Lamonte Turner: 10.4 PPG, 2.0 APG, 23.3 minutes

#0 PG - Jordan Bone: 7.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 22.7 minutes

#23 SF - Jordan Bowden: 10.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 26.6 minutes

Tonight’s contest will tip off at 5:30pm (Central) and will be televised on the SEC Network. You can listen on the radio at 98.1 FM, or follow along in the comments below or on Twitter @marq113.