LSU 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
LSU Tigers (26-7, 13-3) - Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Seed: #8 - South Region
Big Wins: 1/28 at Tennessee (79-73), 2/21 Auburn (79-72), 2/24 Florida (81-75)
Bad Losses: 1/11 at Alabama (59-65), 3/4 Vanderbilt (67-75), 3/7 at Auburn (53-69)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, Final Four loss to UCLA
Coach: Trent Johnson (4-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Probable LSU Starters:
Bo Spencer, Sophomore, Guard, 11.6 ppg, 2.6 apg
Garrett Temple, Senior, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 3.8 apg, 4.5 rpg
Marcus Thornton, Senior, Guard, 20.7 ppg, 2.1 apg, 5.5 rpg
Tasmin Mitchell, Junior, Forward, 16.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg
Chris Johnson, Senior, Center, 7.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.6 bpg
Key LSU Roleplayers:
Chris Bass, Freshman, Guard, 0.9 ppg, 1.6 apg
Terry Martin, Senior, Guard, 4.7 ppg, 1.1 apg
Quintin Thornton, Senior, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Why The Tigers Can Surprise:
LSU’s best assets are what big men traditionally bring to the table. Their ability to block shots makes it difficult for the opposition to get easy buckets, or any buckets for that matter, and few teams can outrebound the Tigers. Chris Johnson is the catalyst on the defensive side of the floor. The 6-11 center is one of the best shot blockers in the Southeastern Conference and he has turned into a quality rebounder.
Johnson’s partner up front is Tasmin Mitchell. Mitchell is not a pure shotblocker like Johnson, but he is the more effective scorer. Mitchell ended the regular season averaging 16.3 points per game. Mitchell’s versatility to score inside and outside creates a lot of space in the paint for Johnson or the slashers on the wing. When Johnson and Mitchell are playing well, LSU is a very tough team on both sides of the court.
Why The Tigers Can Disappoint:
The Tigers only connect on 6.0 three-pointers per game. With so much scoring coming from the frontcourt, it is usually not necessary for Coach Trent Johnson’s team to hit a lot of outside shots, yet it will be a necessity at some during the tournament. The good news is Marcus Thornton and Bo Spencer are both capable shooters. Thornton, who leads the team in scoring, hits 37.6 percent from long range and Spencer connects on 41.6 percent. Those two are certainly more than capable shooters, but there are not many other options.
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Who To Watch:
Spencer does a lot more than just hit long balls. The 6-1 sophomore has taken over a majority of the ball handling duties and has done a pretty decent job of keeping the turnovers down and will still find a way to score. Spencer is running the point so the versatile Garrett Temple can move off the ball. Usually when an old point guard moves off the ball it is to free them up for scoring. That is not exactly the case with Temple, although he is doing more scoring this year than in the past. Temple will do everything possible to help out his team, whether it be finding his teammates, hitting the glass or playing great defense. It would beneficial if Temple did score a little more, but Thornton, Mitchell, Spencer and Johnson will still be the team’s top four scorers and as long as Temple grabs some boards and shuts down the oppositions best scorer, LSU will win some games.
LSU By the Numbers:
- Scoring Offense: 75.7 (54th in nation, 4th in conference)
- Scoring Defense: 65.7 (119, 3)
- Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (97, 5)
- Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (46, 5)
- Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (187, 9)
- Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.3 (55, 3)
- Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (75, 3)
- Rebound Margin: 5.7 (26, 1)
- Assists Per Game: 15.4 (47, 4)
- Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (39, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Butler
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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