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Bud Walton Arena here we come. Two fascinating SEC squads are ready to bang bodies in what looks to be a physical contest between the LSU Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas, which still holds a shot at the SEC #1 seed, is a 5.5-point favorite and the total is 143.
The Hangover Effect is a real concern for tonight. Arkansas is fresh off a huge victory in Fayetteville against Kentucky on Saturday and vaulted themselves directly into the SEC fray. We can hopefully avoid it since the Razorbacks have two games left and with a win tonight, Saturday’s battle with Tennessee has a shot to be for the top spot in the conference for the regular season.
LSU is a 20-win team that is ferocious on defense. They CANNOT score but they can absolutely turn you over and get a few easy buckets on the other end. LSU is #1 in the country in steals per game (11.1) and 6th overall in turnovers forced per outing (18.03). Those Tigers are also only allowing 61.9 points per game and allowing their opponents to shoot 38.3% from the field and are 5th in the nation in three-point defense. If LSU is winning, this is a low scoring game.
So here’s the rub on LSU… the road. The Tigers are a fantastic 3-7 on the road, 1-6 in their last seven tries. The good news is they have managed to split ATS, going 5-5. I will add that their most recent road cover, the Kentucky cover, was a miracle where the Wildcats had their top two ball-handlers out of the game. Me? Bitter? A little.
Also the last time these two met, in Baton Rouge, Arkansas won 65-58 and that was the 2nd SEC win for Arkansas. They started the SEC slate 0-3 and slowly got right with guys like Jaylin Williams and reigning SEC Player of the Week and legitimate contender for SEC Player of the Year JD Notae. In the previous meeting, LSU shot under 40% from the field and turned the ball over 17 times. Williams notched a double-double, Notae led everyone on the court with 19 points. The team overcame an eight-point deficit with nine minutes to go. They also did all of this, the entirety of it, with Eric Musselman who didn’t coach because of shoulder surgery two days prior.
Arkansas is no slouch defensively either. Their opponents also average fewer than 70-points per game and shooting right at 41%. The difference for them is their playmakers (mentioned partly above) and their ability to score. The Razorbacks are a top-40 scoring offense (77.4) and have gone OVER in 16 of their 29 games. They are also 16-1 at home. The lone loss was a one-point defeat to Vanderbilt in which Arkansas shot 28% from three. They’ve won eight straight at home including against #1 Auburn and #7 Kentucky. That’s why tonight my head and my heart lead me to pick the Razorbacks -5.5.