LSU (15-8) at Arkansas (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 5 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bud Walton Arena (19,200) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: LSU 11-2, Arkansas 12-2. Away Record: LSU 2-5, Arkansas 1-5. Neutral Record: LSU 2-1, Arkansas 2-2. Conference Record: LSU 6-5, Arkansas 4-7. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 31-26.
GAME NOTES: The LSU Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks will both try to overcome losses from earlier in the week when the squads meet up for an SEC clash at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday afternoon.
LSU was riding high heading into its latest matchup having won three of its last four games, including a Jan. 28 triumph over nationally-ranked Kentucky (87-82), but it slipped up at Texas A&M on Wednesday, 83-73. The Tigers are still an impressive 15-8 overall this season and 6-5 in the SEC, but they have gone just 2-5 on the road.
After winning the first game of its road trip at Vanderbilt last Saturday (77-75), Arkansas used a late rally to overtake Missouri on Thursday only to fall victim to a last-second bucket to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 86-85. The Razorbacks are just 4-7 in the SEC this season but have gone 15-9 overall, including 12-2 on their home floor.
In the first meeting this season on Feb. 1 in Baton Rouge, the Tigers made easy work of the Razorbacks, 88-74. LSU has won four straight in the series, but Arkansas still has a 31-26 advantage all time.
The Tigers fell behind Texas A&M by six at the half and could never climb back in the game after intermission, eventually falling by the double-digit final. They shot a respectable 44.8 percent from the field on the evening, but only 6-of-24 came from 3-point range (.250) and they also fell on the wrong end of the rebounding battle, 39-32. Shavon Coleman was stellar with 21 points on 8- of-13 shooting from the field. Johnny O'Bryant III netted 15 points, Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin had 13 and 11 points, respectively, and Anthony Hickey tallied nine points and six assists.
LSU's offensive attack this year has been strong, as it shoots 45.3 percent from the field for 77.5 ppg, which successfully masks its lackluster scoring defense (71.8 ppg), which ranks 13th in the SEC. It owns a +4.0 rebounding margin, which is no surprise considering its top playmakers are in the frontcourt. Both O'Bryant (15.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Mickey (13.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.6 bpg) have been impressive, with each shooting greater than 52 percent from the field. Andre Stringer (11.9 ppg) is the only other player in double figures on a nightly basis, although Martin, Hickey and Coleman all pour in between 8.9 and 9.5 ppg.
The Razorbacks appeared down for the count trailing by eight points with three and a half minutes to play in their most recent contest but ripped off a 10-0 run to take a lead in the final minute, although their comeback was spoiled when Missouri scored the game-winning bucket with 11 seconds left. They shot a modest 42.6 percent from the field in the back-and-forth matchup, and while they had a stellar showing at the free-throw line (29-of-37), Missouri was even better (34-of-38). Pacing five teammates in double figures was Rashad Madden with 17 points, while Alandise Harris (16 points), Bobby Portis (15), Coty Clarke (12) and Michael Qualls (10) were all major factors as well.
Arkansas has grown accustomed to large point totals this season, as its scoring offense (81.2 ppg) is the SEC's best and is more than enough to support its lackluster scoring defense (70.8 ppg). The team also benefits from an outstanding +5.9 turnover margin, which is more than twice as good as second place in the league. Portis paces the balanced attack with 13.2 ppg (on 53.9 percent field goal shooting) to go with 6.6 rpg. Madden (12.9 ppg) and Qualls (11.4 ppg) also net in double figures, while nine others put up at least 2.9 ppg.
LSU needs a strong road victory to bolster an NCAA Tournament resume that was severely weakened earlier in the week, but that will be tough to come by against an Arkansas squad that always gets up to play in front of its home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 80, LSU 75
02/15 10:40:30 ET