Know Your Bayou Rival: LSU

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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They don't draw fouls (and when they do, they don't make their free throws). They turn the ball over a ton. They get punished on the defensive glass. They foul an incredible amount. Generally speaking, they just aren't a very good team. But they can press. And Missouri hasn't exactly handled the press very well this year. So they've got that going for them, and it could make this game uncomfortable for quite a while.

LSU Tigers (10-7)


LSU
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
71.3
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.01 0.96
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.16 1.20
2-PT FG% 47.0% 45.9%
3-PT FG% 34.2% 31.6%
FT% 61.1% 69.5%
True Shooting % 51.1% 51.1%




LSU Opp.
Assists/Gm 14.6 10.5
Steals/Gm 10.7 8.4
Turnovers/Gm 15.8 17.1
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.60 1.10




LSU Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 12.6 11.8
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 14.5 12.6
Difference +1.9 +0.8

When it comes to pace, the SEC as a whole is not as slow as we've been led to believe thus far. Of the conference's 14 teams, six rank 280th or lower in terms of Adj. Pace, and Missouri has played four of them in their first six conference games. But Arkansas ranks 16th, Ole Miss 17th, LSU 18th, Kentucky 44th and Mississippi State 83rd. (Missouri is 90th.) Aside from next week's trip to College Station (A&M is 336th, the slowest of all), the pace of Missouri games should pick up in the coming weeks. Aesthetically, that may be a good thing, but facing teams that force a ton of turnovers (like LSU and Arkansas) may not.

Eight minutes into their contest with Texas A&M, Johnny Jones' LSU Tigers trailed, 19-5. But they pressed, and pressed, and pressed, eventually compiling 19 steals and forcing 24 A&M turnovers, and they not only caught up early in the second half, but they ended up winning, 58-54. This was not pretty basketball (LSU was 5-for-23 from 3-point range, squandering many of their run-out opportunities), but it was eventually effective. And that's kind of the story for the Bayou Bengals this year -- give them enough opportunities, and they'll figure out a way to beat you. But if you bring your A-game to the table and play smart, disciplined basketball (especially in bringing the ball up the court), they don't necessarily have much of a Plan B. Mizzou's discipline was quite iffy in losses to Louisville, Ole Miss and Florida; LSU is not nearly as good as those three teams, but they'll punish you all the same if you let them.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

LSU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

LSU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 192 70 MU big
Effective FG% 158 57 MU big
Turnover % 245 295 LSU
Off. Reb. % 50 65 push
FTA/FGA 276 6 MU big
MU Offense vs LSU Defense Ranks

MU Offense LSU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 26 81 MU
Effective FG% 109 102 push
Turnover % 127 36 LSU
Off. Reb. % 8 254 MU big
FTA/FGA 234 250 push

Where the Bayou Bengals are weakest

It's kind of hard to figure out where to start. This is not the worst offense Mizzou has faced this season by any means, but it is an offense that relies heavily on offensive rebounding and streaky 3-point shooting. The backup plan isn't very good; they are terrible at drawing fouls and even worse (331st in the country) at making their free throws. They give up almost as many steals as they get, and they don't have a huge reservoir of experience to lean on when things get iffy (they're 228th in Experience). And considering how good they are at stealing the ball (fifth in the country), that their defense ranks just 81st overall tells you something. They allow a ton of second-chance opportunities (certainly a plus for Missouri), and in going for a ton of takeaways, they also foul an incredible amount. As with Mike Anderson, Jones' style is probably quite conducive to getting a ton of calls at home and getting whistled a million times on the road.

Where they are best

I guess we've basically covered it, huh? They play fast, and they take the ball from you.

Some more relative strengths:

  • They're pretty tall (53rd in Effective Height, though a lot of that comes from 7'3 senior Andrew Del Piero, who plays about 14 minutes per game).
  • They're pretty deep (86th in Bench Minutes), as you probably have to be if you're pressing and fouling a lot. Of course, deep by necessity isn't the same as deep with talent.
  • They force you to play 1-on-1. The LSU defense is seventh in the country in Assists Per FG Made, meaning they fill passing lanes and recover quickly. They don't let you pile up gaudy assist totals like, say, UCLA.

Again, this is not a great team, but it's a fun kind of mediocre. Instead of being mediocre at everything, LSU is great at a lot and terrible at even more.

LSU's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 99 Seton Hall (72-67)
    No. 101 Texas A&M (58-54)
    No. 137 Northwestern State (102-95)
    at No. 148 UC Irvine (66-60)
    No. 216 UCSB (77-63)
    No. 288 Bethune Cookman (79-63)
    No. 308 McNeese State (73-48)
    No. 309 Chattanooga (80-67)
    No. 338 Mississippi Valley State (75-50)
    No. 339 Houston Baptist (75-58)
  • Losses
    No. 1 Florida (52-74)
    at No. 17 Kentucky (70-75)
    at No. 29 Marquette (80-84)
    at No. 71 Boise State (70-89)
    at No. 144 Georgia (58-67)
    at No. 169 Auburn (63-68)
    No. 175 South Carolina (73-82, OT)

LSU vs. Top 50, average score: Opponent 77.7, LSU 67.3 (-10.4)
LSU vs. Top 51-150, avg. score: Opponent 72.0, LSU 71.0 (-1.0)
LSU vs. Top 151-250, avg. score: LSU 71.0, Opponent 71.0 (+0.0)
LSU vs. Top 251+, average score: LSU 76.4, Opponent 57.2 (+19.2)

Again, for all their interesting strengths and quirks, LSU still isn't very good and should be beaten, even while getting some calls at home, and even if Laurence Bowers is not quite 100%.

LSU Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Anthony Hickey (5'11, 178, So.) 14.6 0.49 30.0 MPG, 11.9 PPG (47% 2PT, 34% 3PT, 54% FT), 3.8 SPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.4 TOPG, 2.7 PFPG
Shavon Coleman (6'5, 195, Jr.) 13.4 0.45 29.5 MPG, 12.1 PPG (50% 2PT, 27% 3PT, 67% FT), 7.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 1.0 APG, 1.9 TOPG, 2.5 PFPG
Charles Carmouche (6'4, 187, Sr.) 11.5 0.47 24.3 MPG, 9.4 PPG (51% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 70% FT), 4.1 APG, 3.4 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 2.1 TOPG, 2.5 PFPG
Johnny O'Bryant III (6'9, 256, So.) 9.2 0.36 25.2 MPG, 11.7 PPG (48% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 56% FT), 8.1 RPG, 3.2 TOPG, 2.9 PFPG
Andre Stringer (5'10, 182, Jr.) 7.6 0.26 28.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG (42% 2PT, 40% 3PT, 74% FT), 1.9 APG, 1.5 RPG, 2.0 TOPG
Malik Morgan (6'4, 188, Fr.) 6.9 0.35 19.6 MPG, 5.4 PPG (49% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 52% FT), 3.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.4 APG
Andrew Del Piero (7'3, 254, Sr.) 4.9 0.36 13.6 MPG, 4.4 PPG (54% 2PT, 50% FT), 3.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Shane Hammink (6'7, 208, Fr.) 2.5 0.19 13.3 MPG, 2.9 PPG (48% 2PT, 26% 3PT, 57% FT), 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 TOPG
Corban Collins (6'3, 192, Fr.) 2.4 0.18 13.2 MPG, 4.2 PPG (32% 2PT, 53% 3PT, 73% FT), 1.6 RPG, 1.7 TOPG
Eddie Ludwig (6'9, 209, Sr.) 1.5 0.12 12.4 MPG, 3.3 PPG (39% 2PT, 46% FT), 2.9 RPG, 1.6 TOPG
Jalen Courtney (6'8, 228, Jr.) 1.2 0.12 9.6 MPG, 2.1 PPG (39% 2PT, 58% FT), 2.4 RPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: O'Bryant (28%), Coleman (22%), Hickey (21%)
  • Highest Floor%: Carmouche (39%), Hickey (38%), Del Piero (38%)
  • Highest %Pass: Carmouche (65%), Hammink (61%), Hickey (59%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Del Piero (52%), Coleman (49%), Courtney (47%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Ludwig (23%), Del Piero (22%), Courtney (18%)
  • Highest %T/O: Ludwig (16%), Courtney (16%), O'Bryant (14%)
  • If LSU can indeed be characterized by its ability to bring a lot to, and take a lot off of, the table, then Johnny O'Bryant is the most LSU player on the team. He averages about 12 points per game and ranks in the nation's Top 70 for offensive rebounding, and he'll even step back and take about one 3-pointer per game. But he also averages three turnovers and three fouls per contest and is only the fourth-best Tiger from an Adj. GS perspective.

    O'Bryant has fouled out of three of LSU's seven losses, and he played 25 minutes or fewer in three others. If LSU can get 30+ decent minutes from him, this is a pretty good team. But good luck figuring out when that will or won't happen.
  • The scariest player as far as Mizzou is concerned? It has to be Anthony Hickey, right? He's second in the country with a Steal Rate of 7.1%; he has 16 steals (!) in the last three games, and he also has the potential for getting hot from 3-point range. When he makes at least 40% of his 3's in a given game, LSU is 4-1, and the one loss was a narrow, impressive one at Kentucky (he made four of seven and scored 15 points). Of course, he has also committed at least three fouls in six straight contests and seven of eight.

Keys to the Game

  1. Free Points. That's basically what the press is all about, right? Mizzou lived by them in the Mike Anderson years. Steal enough free points and easy scoring opportunities that you can overcome your deficiencies (of which LSU has plenty) or offensive lulls. We know that Phil Pressey is going to attempt to split a double-team in the backcourt and turn the ball over at least twice, and unless Pressey plays 40 minutes, we know somebody like Negus Webster-Chan or Jabari Brown is going to make a couple of bad passes in the backcourt that lead to easy break opportunities as well. That's potentially 8-10 free points for LSU. The key to this game will be matching those opportunities, either through breaking the press and creating easy scores of your own, or simply punishing LSU for its own major deficiencies (i.e. turnovers) and getting good looks because of it. If you match LSU, easy score for easy score, the Bayou Bengals probably can't win.

  2. Oriakhi vs. O'Bryant. Alex Oriakhi averages 11 points and nine rebounds per game. In Mizzou wins versus "real" opponents, he averages 13 and 9; in losses, 7 and 6. O'Bryant, meanwhile, averages 11 and 8 -- 16 and 11 in their three best "real" games (wins over Seton Hall and Texas A&M and the tight loss at Kentucky) and 10 and 7 in their other losses. This will likely be a 1-on-1 matchup for much of the game; who wins it will determine a pretty good portion of the overall outcome.

  3. Brown & Ross. Of course. You don't need me to explain this one anymore than I have in recent weeks. When Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross shoot well, Mizzou probably wins. When they shoot terribly, they quite possibly don't. And there seems to be almost no in-between. Mizzou needs these two to shoot at least 40% from the field, but it's usually either 50% or better, or 25% or worse.

Prediction

Supposedly Laurence Bowers will be ready to go tonight, and that's exciting. His steadiness, along with the simple fact that Missouri has quite a few more matchup advantages than LSU, makes me perfectly optimistic. Ken Pomeroy projects a 75-70 win, and I'm thinking something a little more along the lines of 78-68. But the nightmare scenario here is obvious. If LSU can jump out to an early lead, get somebody hot from 3-point land, and punish Mizzou enough with its press that the Tigers are allowing just enough easy points to prevent them from coming back, this could quite easily be a loss. We know that scenario exists, and the odds of it rearing its ugly head might be better than we wish it were. Assume a Mizzou win, and accept that a loss is quite conceivable.

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