Arkansas (1-3 SEC) is off to a disappointing start, but there's plenty of time to change things around. They pounded Missouri 87-43 on Wednesday in their last game. They face an LSU team (3-1 SEC) that has won three straight including a 64-58 road win over Florida on Jan. 12.
Last season, the Tigers won two of three including a 78-71 victory in the SEC Tournament.
Razorbacks can't play much betterArkansas opened up SEC play on Dec. 29 with an 81-68 loss at Mississippi State, a one-point home loss to Vanderbilt as an 8-point favorite and a five-point loss at Texas A&M as a 1.5-point road favorite. So after losing five of six games total, they needed a big win and they got the dub against Mizzou by 44 after starting out up 26-3 after 10 minutes before leading 49-15 at the half. JD Notae led the Razorbacks with 19 points, while Davonte Davis added 15 points and six boards. Arkansas shot 50% from the field and just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc. They held the Tigers to just 29.2% shooting from the field and forced 23 turnovers.
The Razorbacks are 85th in the latest NET Rankings and are 0-3 against Quad 1 teams, so they need to start winning some key games against tough opponents. On the season, the Razorbacks ranked 24th in scoring with 80.5 points per game on 46.1% shooting (29.7% 3pt). They allow 35.6% shooting from 3-point range and 70.1 points per game. Three-point shooting and three-point defense is a concern for the Razorbacks.
Notae leads the Razorbacks with 18.8 points per game and adds 3.2 assists and 4.5 boards (42.2% shooting). Chris Lykes adds 11.1 points and shoots 38.1% shooting (29.6% 3pt).
Tigers look eliteNo. 12 LSU has had just one stumble so far and it came against now No. 4 Auburn by 15 points on Dec. 29. The Tigers managed to win three straight after that including a six-point win over Florida on Wednesday. LSU sits at 8th overall on KenPom, who has the Tigers No. 1 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. In their win over Florida, the Tigers shot 50% from the field and just 3-of-9 from beyond the arc. They also committed 15 turnovers in a sloppy affair, but Darius Days was the star with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals. Eric Gaines added 15 points and four rebounds. LSU's defense forced 13 turnovers and held the Gators to 36.4% shooting (7-31 3pt).
“Give our guys credit, man. … We’re a tough out,” LSU head coach Will Wade said in the Advocate.com. “We have guys that stepped up and came through for us.
“Gaines made some huge plays down the stretch, Murray made some huge plays down the stretch. You know, we just dug it out.”
LSU was playing without point guard Xavier Pinson (10.9ppg, 4.7apg), who is listed as doubtful due to a knee injury. Forward Tari Eason, a 6-8 transfer from Cincinnati, leads the Tigers with 15.5 points per game and in rebounds with 7.2 on 53% shooting. Days adds 14.7 points per game on 44.2% shooting (35.5% 3pt). LSU averages 76.1 points per game on 45.1% shooting (32.3% 3pt). They also outrebound teams by 6.6 per game. On defense, the Tigers allow just 56.5 points per game (3rd) on 35% shooting (1st) and 26.3% from three-point range (5th).
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I like this LSU team, but they got away without playing their starting point guard Pinson, because the Gators are mediocre. Of course, LSU's defense is fantastic, but we're talking about covering here against an Arkansas team finally gaining some confidence and it looks like Pinson won't play. Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation with 15.2 forced turnovers per game and LSU turned it over that many in their previous game without Pinson. Take the points with the Razorbacks.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both these teams are up-tempo squads, but I think that LSU's defense is so fantastic that the tempo doesn't matter. Auburn is an up-tempo team, but they scored just 70 points against LSU. When you hold teams to 26% three-point shooting and 35% from the floor, teams are going to struggle to score 60 points against you (56.5ppg average on defense). The Tigers have gone under in eight of their last 10 games.