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Gamethread: LSU vs. No. 20 Arkansas, 1:00 P.M., ESPN2

Basketball travels to Bud Walton Arena for rematch with surging Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Six weeks ago LSU ran Arkansas off the PMAC floor, beating the Hogs 92-76 in a game that was even more lopsided than the final score suggests. LSU led by as many as 31 points in the first half, and went on a staggering 40-6 run that essentially ended the game right then and there.

Flash forward to today and Arkansas is surging. The Razorbacks (18-5, 10-4) have won five in a row and are currently ranked No. 20 in this week’s AP Poll. Arkansas has also fortified Bud Walton Arena, boasting a 14-1 home record and have won its last eight conference games.

While nothing is a given in college basketball, beating a Top 20 Arkansas team— for the second time no less— in their own building ought to clinch an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament for LSU.

But to beat Arkansas in hostile territory, LSU will have to play its best game of the 2020-2021 season. LSU is 3-5 on the road and 3-6 against Quad 1 teams. The fact of the matter is when LSU plays a team equally as talented as them, they lose more often than win.

The bigger issue for LSU isn’t the caliber of opponents they play, it’s that the Tiger defense continues to be a sore spot. LSU saw its three game winning streak come to an end Tuesday thanks in large part to surrendering 91 points to Georgia. LSU is allowing teams to make an SEC-worst nine threes a game while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Much like we saw last football season, if LSU played even average defense they’d be battling for a top-four seed for the Tournament instead of hovering around the 8/9 line.

Whatever lessons Will Wade and his staff learned from Georgia, they had better implement them today because Arkansas can score with the best of them. The Hogs are a top-15 offensive team in points per game, averaging 82.4. LSU’s outside the Top 250 in points allowed with 75.2.

Tipoff is set for 1:00 and will be carried on ESPN2.