Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Callin' Baton Rouge : LSU Preview

Vanderbilt travels to Baton Rogue for a game against the LSU Tigers that is wrought with opportunity. LSU’s early season success has been stalled with the start of SEC play. LSU was 16-3 in out of conference play with all of their only defeats coming against ranked opponents. The Tigers opened SEC play at Alabama, a game LSU lost 71-61. While LSU was able to right the ship earning home wins against Ole Miss and Auburn, they struggled against Auburn, a team Vanderbilt lost to in a heartbreaking SEC opener on the road. LSU has struggled in the first half in almost all their SEC games, and have only led at halftime once in conference play (vs. Ole Miss). The Tigers are shooting a paltry 33% from the floor in the first half. For Vanderbilt, getting off to a fast start is key.

Vanderbilt does not match up particularly well with LSU. Coach Brady’s starters are all at least 6-5. 5-11 Red Gordon matching up with 6-5 Garret Temple will be very interesting. Temple has 7 assists in 4 of his last 7 games and was named by Jay Bilas as one of the best defenders in the country. If Temple runs all over Gordon and Beal, this could be a long night for Stallings and the boys.

Everyone has match-up problems with Glen Davis and Vanderbilt is no exception. Ross Neltner’s return to LSU will be met with a match-up against Baby Shaq Davis. In Davis’ 3 games against the Commies, he has averaged 19 points and 9.67 rebounds. He can, however, be contained. He has only surpassed his season average of 18.6 points per game once in SEC play (against Alabama) and has been held to 11 points twice. If Vanderbilt can stop Davis from dominating them, they will give themselves a chance.

LSU has not shot the ball particularly well in their first 4 SEC games, going just 39% from the floor, while allowing their opponents to shoot over 43%. From behind the 3-point line, LSU has only shot 30%, while Vanderbilt has been burning the nets from downtown, going 44% in 5 conference contests. As always, Vanderbilt will live and die by their outside shooting. Given LSU’s decisive height advantage, hitting shots and limiting the Tigers’ offensive rebounds will be crucial. There are few teams the Commies will be able to out-rebound in the SEC, but if Vanderbilt can prevent LSU from getting huge rebounding differential, they certainly have a chance.

LSU is a team that has struggled in SEC play and is somewhat reeling. While Vanderbilt has not won in Baton Rogue since 2001, tonight might be the night.


Seamus O'Toole said...

I think that's right--LSU is trying to figure out what's going wrong at the moment, and the simple answer is they're just not hitting shots. Look for that to change tonight, making it all the more important that Vandy limit their offensive rebounds and second-chance points when the Tigers do miss.

I disagree somewhat with Bobby O about the Commies' height disadvantage because I think our shooters actually create matchup problems for them. We start four players who can all shoot from outside, while their forwards (Lazare, Mitchell, Davis) may have difficulty stepping out to defend the three. That will especially be the case if Dan Cage comes to play (as he's been doing for the past 10 games), because the less-experience Darnell Lazare will have trouble keeping track of him.

In the past few games, we've been very eager to get out and run on offense, which could present problems for LSU. When we're not doing that, look for Skuchas and Metcalfe to get more minutes than usual bodying up on "Big Baby" Davis so Neltner isn't shouldering the whole load.

Finally, after Auburn beat the pants off Alabama last night, this game becomes all the more important. LSU hasn't lost a home SEC game since 2004 and are looking to make it 20 straight tonight. From that angle, they're due for a home loss..."and we're just the guys to do it." (Next commenter must name that movie)

Stanimal said...