Better Know An Opponent: LSU

The Gamecocks head to Baton Rouge on Wednesday evening to take on the Bayou Bengals at 8pm Wednesday evening on ESPN3.  South Carolina and LSU are both still hunting for their first SEC win, though the teams appear to have far different aspirations – LSU is a team that didn’t have a bad loss on its record until the other evening at Auburn (though to be fair, they also don’t have a good win to their name, with the best probably coming at home versus Seton Hall), whereas the Gamecocks struggled to go 10-3 against a woeful out-of-conference schedule.  One of them will feel better about their goals for the season coming out of this one, and the other will be firmly rooted to the bottom of the conference standings.

The Four Factors

Four Factors
USC O
LSU D
LSU O
USC D
NCAA
eFG
51.2
(68)
45.2
(70)
49.8
(122)
48.9
(196)
48.3
TO%
25.5
(341)
23.2
(55)
21.4
(215)
20.3
(185)
20.6
Oreb%
45.1
(2)
34.2
(256)
37.1
(46)
31.7
(166)
32.1
FTM/FTA
38.1
(106)
35.8
(172)
32.2
(249)
42.1
(291)
35.6
Shooting
USC O
LSU D
LSU O
USC D
NCAA
FTA
69.5
(159)
59.2
(341)
68.8
2PA
50.2
(77)
43.5
(61)
48.1
(138)
49.3
(232)
47.3
3PA
35.7
(87)
35.2
(112)
33.6
3PA%
31.9
(209)
30.5
(98)
36.0
(99)
29.4
(65)
32.9

The games were never going to get easier as the schedule went along, and we’re finally running into teams with more strengths and fewer weaknesses.  While it’s probably not accurate, there’s an argument to be made (accounting for the fact this game is on the road) that this is the toughest match-up the Gamecocks have faced thus far this season.

Let’s not bury the lede – turnovers are going to be the story on the offensive end for Carolina.  LSU forces opponents to turn the ball over on over 23% of their possessions, and they are sixth in the country in steal percentage (14.3%).  Starting guards Anthony Hickey and Charles Carmouche are both in the top 50 in the nation in individual steal percentage (the former is second at 6.9%, the latter 35th at 4.9%) and will be a constant threat to our ball handlers.

When they do get shots off, shooting may be more of a problem for Carolina than it normally is otherwise. While the Gamecocks do a good job shooting in all respects, LSU is also adept at defending the 2PA and preventing 3PAs, which means Carolina will probably not shoot as well as they have in some other games.

Carolina can and should try to exploit the other areas of the offense, where they’re more likely to find a match-up advantage.  Amazingly, though the Gamecocks sport an effective height (which is the height of your players weighed by their minutes played) of -2.0″ as compared to the NCAA average, and LSU is 2.2″ taller effectively than the average NCAA team, Carolina’s most likely place to shine on offense will be on the offensive glass, where they’ve dominated just about everyone they’ve played this season.  LSU has been nothing special on the offensive glass, and they’ve played a similarly awful schedule thus far, so when Carolina does get shots off, expect them to rebound their misses prolifically.

On the other end, LSU isn’t really a very good offensive team.  While Carolina has struggled with any sort of height defensively this season, LSU isn’t overwhelmingly good at 2PAs (though the Gamecocks have a way of making teams look good from 2PA).  The Tigers also aren’t likely to make the Gamecocks pay for their fouling ways, as LSU is porous at both creating FTAs and turning those into FTMs (their 59.2% FT% is 341st in the nation).

LSU does rebound the ball well offensively, so that’s an area where Carolina will need to watch out.  They’re also susceptible to turning the ball over, though that’s not an area where Carolina has really excelled this season.  While the addition of Bruce Ellington may bring a few more steals, our two best on the year have been R.J. Slawson and Brenton Williams.

Given the lack of playing time each has seen over the last few games, it may be less likely that the Gamecocks are able to wreak havoc on LSU through creating turnovers (though two of their three best games have been their last two against Mississippi State (25.0%) and Auburn (27.2%, the best of the year)).  On the other hand, LSU is also coming off two of its best games when it comes to avoiding turnovers (10.7% versus Florida and 17.2% against Auburn), so I’m not sure the trend-line favors either team.

Individual

South Carolina
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Lakeem Jackson
77.2
18.1
61.1
10.5
16.4
14.9
26.4
9-32
69-112
0-1
Eric Smith
69.0
18.1
40.4
2.0
6.5
26.6
32.6
20-32
24-59
8-30
Mindaugas Kacinas
64.4
16.1
59.3
11.9
13.0
7.3
29.0
25-36
40-62
3-13
Brenton Williams
53.9
20.8
62.4
1.5
7.2
11.8
19.0
41-51
31-54
23-51
Brian Richardson
53.6
19.8
50.4
5.3
11.3
14.3
17.3
20-26
20-52
25-62
RJ Slawson
38.7
18.9
44.5
15.7
14.6
8.8
22.5
23-34
23-49
1-6
LaShay Page*
36.1
23.5
41.9
2.2
14.0
7.5
16.0
27-31
18-48
14-45
Michael Carrera
31.0
27.4
46.8
18.3
25.1
12.1
25.1
33-41
26-60
2-2
Damien Leonard
31.0
18.8
49.1
7.2
13.8
8.2
28.3
7-10
8-21
13-35
Bruce Ellington
27.4
24.1
50.9
2.2
7.1
13.7
32.3
12-18
19-36
6-19
Laimonas Chatkevicius
14.3
23.3
54.8
17.0
15.0
16.0
37.9
4-8
10-19
1-2
Louisiana State
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Shavon Coleman
74.4
21.7
50.0
11.4
17.2
7.6
15.7
31-49
59-116
7-23
Andre Stringer
71.7
18.4
53.7
1.1
4.4
13.8
20.7
16-22
21-51
30-72
Anthony Hickey
59.8
19.2
51.4
2.6
10.5
26.6
12.8
11-19
25-46
21-64
Charles Carmouche
58.5
23.2
48.4
4.3
12.1
29.5
22.6
35-48
20-38
17-56
Johnny O’Bryant
47.5
27.6
47.2
12.6
20.3
8.5
24.1
14-28
48-100
2-8
Malik Morgan
42.1
15.8
47.4
6.0
11.7
13.4
15.8
7-17
11-27
11-31
Shane Hammink
35.2
16.7
43.4
9.9
7.8
16.3
28.6
8-14
9-19
5-19
Andrew Del Piero
34.4
17.7
60.4
10.1
14.8
1.1
22.5
8-19
29-48
0-0
Corban Collins
31.3
18.3
52.3
1.2
11.3
15.1
29.4
8-12
8-25
10-19
Eddie Ludwig
21.5
22.3
38.5
12.5
10.9
7.6
30.7
10-22
10-26
0-0
Jalen Courtney
20.0
16.1
43.5
9.7
16.7
3.3
22.9
7-12
10-22
0-1

The Gamecocks are an interesting team to look at when you start sorting them by minutes played, because you quickly realize how few constants we’ve had on the year.  Brenton Williams went from being our best player to barely playing.  LaShay Page went from taking a preposterous percentage of our shots to not taking any more shots for us.  We’ve added Bruce, lost him, and added him back, and done the same twice for Carrera (for very different reasons).

The complete lack of consistency in our line-up, along with the transition issues that come with any new coaching staff, don’t excuse everything that’s happened with this team, but certainly help tell a story for why they’ve struggled (what doesn’t tell that story is an inability to win the close one, as we’ve discussed ad nauseum the last few days).

What we know (or think we know) from the last two games is that the following six guys should start tomorrow night: Bruce, Eric, Lakeem, Brian Richardson, and Mindaugus, with Damien Leonard seeing major minutes off the bench.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess, though I would be surprised if we didn’t continue the trend of seeing Michael Carrera play major minutes, with Chatkevicius, Slawson, and Williams each adding a few minutes here or there.  In his press conference today, Martin did not seem likely to add to the menial work load Brenton has seen thus far in SEC play.

Given those parameters, it will be of paramount importance that Ellington and Smith avoid turnovers, as LSU’s guards are amazing at forcing them, and each of those guys is known to become turnover prone at times.  However, it’s not all on these guys – aside from Richardson (whose limited ball-handling responsibilities means that he shouldn’t turn the ball over all that frequently), Brenton (not playing much these days), and LaShay (not playing at all these days), each Gamecock is ending over one of every five possessions he concludes with a turnover instead of a shot.  Everyone is on notice against the Tigers, because they’ll run us out of the gym if we’re not careful.  One guy I’m especially concerned about is Laimonas – the freshman has a brutal turnover percentage – especially for a big guy – and didn’t look like a trustworthy offensive presence when it comes to ball security in his minutes against Mississippi State.

Offensively, LSU spreads around the scoring, but keep an eye out for Anthony Hickey, who does an excellent job handling the ball for the Tigers.  He both assists on over 26% of his teammates’ baskets while playing while ending less than 13% of possessions he’s responsible for with turnovers, all while shooting reasonably efficiently both inside and out.  He’ll be a handful for our guards all night.

The rebounding of O’Bryant, Coleman, and Del Piero also sticks out (Ludwig should be ignored almost for our purposes, as he’s fallen out of favor with Johnny Jones and staff), on both ends of the floor, though given their reasonably limited minutes each plays, I still think Carolina should find a lot of success on the glass on both ends.

Aside from the steals we mentioned above, you should also keep an eye on a couple of LSU big men.  Shavon Coleman is only 6’5″, but blocks over four percent of the 2PAs taken by the opposition when he’s on the court.  That’s a great number, but it pales in comparison to the ridiculous 11.4% mark from Andrew Del Piero, the 7’3″ senior who, though he plays limited minutes, obviously represents quite a force inside.

Predictions

KenPom: 80-68 L (16%)

TeamRatings: 75-64 (13%)

There’s really no particular reason to think the Gamecocks should win this game – it’s on the road, and LSU’s biggest strength perfectly aligns with Carolina’s biggest weakness.  That said, there’s a reason you play the games, and Martin and staff have remained positive about the development of the team.  Coach indicated at his press conference he thinks as Carrera and Ellington begin to assimilate themselves, they’ll be able to contribute their strengths without weakening the team in other ways (primarily based on their lack of experience playing with these guys in this system, due to injury, inexperience, or football duty, depending on which guy you’re talking about).

I remain mostly optimistic, not necessarily about where this season is headed, but where this program is headed.  However, that doesn’t leave me optimistic about our chances Wednesday night.  The heart is always with Carolina, but the better odds are that the Gamecocks will enter their game on Saturday 0-3, with an excellent chance of adding one to the win column against a pretty woeful Vanderbilt squad.  But first things first – trying to take care of business down in Cajun country.

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About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Better Know An Opponent, LSU and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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