After traveling to Knoxville and opening SEC play with a victory over the Volunteers, the LSU men’s basketball team (9-4, 1-0) is back inside the PMAC looking for its best win of the season against Arkansas (12-1, 1-0).
Arkansas is coached by a former member of Johnny Jones’ staff, Eric Musselman. After leaving LSU, Musselman took the head coaching position at Nevada and turned the Wolfpack into a powerhouse in the Mountain West Conference. Since taking over Arkansas, Mussleman has gotten the Razorbacks off to a hot start.
Arkansas’ signature win was a seven point win over Indiana in Bloomington to close out its non-conference schedule. Arkansas then opened SEC play with a 10-point victory over Texas A&M Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas is one of the best teams in the nation on the defensive end. The Hogs rank 18th in points allowed and are in 11th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive metric. Arkansas also throws a unique lineup at opponents; due to its lack of size, Arkansas often keeps four to five guards on the floor.
Adiro Bailey is Arkansas’ tallest starter, standing at 6’6”. Reggie Chaney and Jeantal Cylla are a pair of key reserves that provide some much needed height, but play only 15 and eight minutes a night. Because of that lack of height, Arkansas ranks in the 290s in rebounding.
Arkansas also doesn’t rely on its bench. The five Razorback starters don’t come off the floor much; four starters average at least 30 minutes while the fifth, Bailey, plays 24 minutes a night.
LSU and Arkansas is a match up of polar opposites. While the Hogs don’t have the height or rebounding prowess, they compensate with suffocating defense that doesn’t allow for many scoring opportunities; LSU is the taller team and is one of the most prolific offenses in the country.
What remains to be seen is does Will Wade adjust his lineup because of Arkansas’ plethora of guards. Does Marlon Taylor get the start over Emmitt Williams/Darius Days, or does Wade lean into the height advantage? Arkansas also presents a chance for LSU to pick up its first quadrant one win of the season. The Tigers have struggled against opponents that have talent equal to its, with a 3-4 record against teams in Q-1 and 2.
The game can be seen at 8 P.M. on ESPNU.