The No. 23 LSU Tigers will host the South Alabama Jaguars in the final game of a three-game home stand to start the season for the Tigers. Below is the LSU vs. South Alabama prediction and game preview.
LSU vs. South Alabama Game Preview
Date: Thursday, Nov. 19
Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
Venue: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.
Why You Need To Care
The LSU football team may no longer have a shot at winning a championship this year, but there’s another team primed to make some national noise. Led by 6-foot-10 freshman forward Ben Simmons, the LSU basketball team is ranked in the top 25 and off to an 2-0 start.
LSU opened up its season with back-to-back wins againat McNeese State and Kennesaw State, outscoring both by a combined 172-139. The Tigers seem like the prime competition for the Kentucky Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference. Last season, head coach Johnny Jones led LSU to its first NCAA tournament berth in six years. Now, in his fourth season with the program, Jones will try and make it two years in a row.
South Alabama, meanwhile, has not made the NCAA tournament since the 2007-08 season, but the Jaguars are still going through a transition period with Matthew Graves now in his third season as head coach. South Alabama gave up an average of 73.9 points per game last season, so this should be a fun game to watch how Simmons performs.
Why LSU Will Win
The Tigers are athletic — like trampoline athleticism. Sure, most of that is because of Simmons, but they still have a solid, all-around team. LSU knows how to get to the rim, but more importantly, it knows how to keep the opposition away from it. In their first two games, the Tigers compiled 22 steals and 12 blocks. When you add the urgency to turn defensive stops with the open-floor-playmaking ability LSU has, the Tigers will run the Jaguars out of the building. It’s also a matter of the Tigers being bigger, faster and stronger — just overall better.
Why South Alabama Will Win
The only way the Jaguars would pull out a win against LSU is if LeBron James were to put on a South Alabama jersey. Yeah, so, it seems like the Tigers have this one in the bag. However, having said that, the Jags can definitely make a statement with this game. They’re shooting 35.4 percent from three so far this season and have gone to the free throw line 52 times already. The only way the Jags can hang in this game is to shoot well from outside and make free throws.
Players Who Matter
Sit back, get comfortable and watch the Simmons show unveil. He was the third No. 1 recruit to have a double-double in his first game (11 points and 13 rebounds). He was a rebound away from his second against Kennesaw State the other night. Simmons could be chasing a triple-double against South Alabama. He, Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson are young, yes, but they’re three of the most talented freshmen in the country. And Simmons will probably be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
South Alabama needs junior guard Ken Williams to come up big with the basketabll in his hands. Williams led the Jags in scoring as a sophomore last season (15.7 ppg), but he needs to shoot a little better than the 31.3 percent he’s shooting from three right now. If he’s taking eight threes a game and making less than three of them, the Jags are going to fall behind LSU quickly. Taishaun Johnson is the only other Jaguar averaging double-digit shot attempts (10.5), but he’s 0-for-6 from three so far this season. The two of them need to make shots early and often.
What’s Going To Happen?
Simmons will take over — pretty much immediately after the tip-off. He does it all. He’ll get his own points in a vareity of ways against South Alabama, but Simmons will look to have a well-rounded game. If he doesn’t get a triple-double, his stat line will be close. LSU will control the defensive boards and outlet the ball in a hurry. With Simmons, Blakeney and Sampson running the break, the Tigers will be too fast and efficient for the Jags to handle.
LSU vs. South Alabama Prediction
Line: LSU -18, o/u: 161.5