Rhode Island (8-6) at LSU (9-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Pete Maravich Assembly Center (13,215) -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Television: Cox Sports TV, ESPN 3. Home Record: URI 7-2, LSU 6-0. Away Record: URI 1-4, LSU 1-1. Neutral Record: URI 0-0, LSU 2-1. Conference Record: URI 0-0, LSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Rhode Island Rams will close out their non-conference slate on Saturday when they visit the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to take on the LSU Tigers.
The Rams opened up 2014 with an impressive 75-66 road victory over the Brown Bears. Rhode Island earned its first true away win and rose to 8-6 with the victory. Coach Dan Hurley's squad has the second-lowest scoring offense average among Atlantic 10 Conference schools at 68 ppg, but it is in the middle of the pack in scoring defense with an allowed average of 67.1 ppg. The Rams' next game will be at home against the reigning league champion Saint Louis Billikens.
LSU coasted to a 79-52 win over McNeese State on Dec. 28 to extend its winning streak to five. It marked the third time this year that LSU pulled down 50 or more rebounds and the team had its best night this season at the free-throw line, making 23-of-28 attempts. The Tigers will now try to win six consecutive games for the second time in coach Johnny Jones' two years with the program. Their stifling defense that is allowing its opposition to sink just 36.9 percent from the floor to rank sixth in the nation has been a huge part of their success.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood.
Xavier Munford tallied 25 points on 8-of-16 efficiency from the field to go along with a 7-of-8 clip from the free-throw line for the Rams in their win over Brown. E.C. Matthews contributed 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. Munford has scored in double-figures in all but one of his games this season and surpassed the 20-point mark on four occasions. Matthews is chipping in 11.4 ppg and Gilvydas Biruta pulls down 6.3 rpg. Over his last five games, freshman Hassan Martin has blocked 22 shots to average of 4.4 per game during the span.
In LSU's rout of the Cowboys, freshman Jarell Martin recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Johnny O'Bryant III and Shavon Coleman scored 16 points each and Jordan Mickey reached double-figures in the scoring column for the 10th time in 11 games with 11 points. Mickey is posting 13.5 ppg and a team-best 8.1 rpg. The rookie big man has also been a force defensively with 3.5 rejections per game. O'Bryant is pacing the team with 14.9 ppg to go along with 7.9 rpg. Andre Stringer is chiming in with 12.5 ppg and handles the ball well for the Tigers. Anthony Hickey solidifies LSU's backcourt and will most likely be assigned to limit Munford.
The Rams will need to have a lights out shooting performance to have a chance of ending LSU's streak. URI will have trouble finishing due to the Tigers' size and athleticism. Munford is not going to get as many open looks as he did in his last outing unless the Rams' supporting cast can draw the defense's attention.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 75, Rhode Island 69
01/04 10:39:36 ET