Butler (5-1) vs. LSU (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 1, 2:20 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: HP Field House (5,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Butler 3-0, LSU 3-0. Away Record: Butler 1-0, LSU 0-1. Neutral Record: Butler 1-1, LSU 1-1. Conference Record: Butler 0-0, LSU 0-0. Series Record: LSU leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After both teams suffered hard-fought losses in the semifinal round, the Butler Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers will duke it out on Sunday afternoon for third place in the Old Spice Classic at HP Field House.
Following the opening-round victory over Washington State (76-69), Butler was a perfect 5-0 and set to take on fifth-ranked Oklahoma State in the semifinals, and while it was down by as many as 16 to the Cowboys, it managed to climb all the way back to make it just a one-point game with two minutes to play. With nine seconds left, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie or take the lead when Khyle Marshall was sent to the free-throw line, but he missed both and the Bulldogs were on the wrong end of a 69-67 final.
LSU was also on the wrong side of a tough battle on Friday. It led by two points with six minutes remaining, but Memphis finished strong by ending the game on a 16-7 run to capture a 76-69 triumph. The Tigers have still been impressive this season, as they sit with a 4-2 record.
In the only previous meeting between the teams, LSU claimed a 75-71 win in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Ultimately, Butler's comeback attempt on Friday fell short due to its lackluster shooting effort, as it shot less than 40 percent from the field, including just 6-of-21 from 3-point range. Sparking the team off the bench was Elijah Brown, who scored 15 points on 5-of-11 from the field. Kameron Wood and Alex Barlow put up 12 points apiece, while Woods also pitched in nine rebounds. On the season, the Bulldogs have performed modestly on the offensive end of the floor, draining 44.7 percent of their shots for 74.3 points per game, but their defensive play (66.3 ppg) has been stellar. Kellen Dunham makes less than 39 percent of his field goal attempts on the campaign, but he generates enough volume to lead the team in scoring (17.3 ppg). Marshall (16.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) brings senior leadership to the frontcourt, while Woods (10.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg) has also been strong down low.
LSU was able to keep pace with Memphis for most of its semifinal-round matchup by shooting a lofty 56.6 percent from the field, but only 5-of-20 came from 3- point range. It's biggest issue came in protecting the ball, as it committed 24 turnovers that resulted in 33 Memphis points. Anthony Hickey led all scorers with 20 points. Johnny O'Bryant tallied 14 points and nine rebounds but was responsible for 10 giveaways all by himself. Jordan Mickey added 10 points and four blocks to the losing effort. The Tigers have been efficient from the floor all season long, netting nearly 47 percent of their field goal tries for 83.2 points per game, 12.0 points more than it allows, but their turnover problem (-3.5 margin) is starting to catch up to them. O'Bryant (16.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg) is one of the top forwards in the SEC, and Mickey (13.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.8 bpg) joins him for an imposing duo in the frontcourt. Andre Stringer (15.5 ppg) and Hickey (11.8 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 spg) have both drained 15 3-pointers.
Both teams showed promise in the semifinals but fell short against superior competition, proving that they are not yet ready to join the ranks of the elite. Both benches have ample talent, but Butler's strong defensive pressure should get the best of the Tigers down the stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 77, LSU 75
12/01 10:36:38 ET