Better Know An Opponent: LSU (Part Deux)

The Louisiana State Tigers head to Columbia on Thursday evening to take on the Carolina Gamecocks in a re-match of their earlier battle in Baton Rouge, which the Gamecocks won 82-73 in overtime.

After that game, LSU finished up a four-game losing streak with a loss in Athens, but they’ve turned it around a bit of late, winning four of their next six games.  Their overall SEC profile is rather amazing in that in their ten SEC games, eight of those have been decided by five points or less (or in overtime), including their last six games.

At 4-6 in conference, LSU is trying to avoid the dreaded play-in Wednesday, and they are currently sitting just above 3-8 Auburn and 3-8 Vanderbilt in the race to avoid that fate.  If Carolina wants to have a chance to do so, they’ll need this win to catch them up to those two teams, and to keep LSU within striking distance.  A loss means the Gamecocks are three games back of that 10th place spot with seven games to play, and will by most every account be playing out the string from that point on out.

So it’s a big game, insofar as those are the stakes.  Let’s see how the teams match up.

Team

Four Factors USC O LSU D LSU O USC D NCAA
eFG% 47.8
(195)
45.6
(63)
48.3
(175)
49.5
(221)
48.5
TO% 23.2
(309)
22.5
(56)
21.3
(237)
21.2
(120)
20.3
Oreb% 39.5
(9)
34.1
(259)
34.7
(79)
32.1
(181)
31.9
FTR 38.0
(114)
40.3
(265)
32.2
(268)
44.5
(320)
35.8
Adj. Tempo 66.7
(148)
70.7
(23)
Shooting USC O LSU D LSU O USC D NCAA
FT% 69.7
(152)
62.7
(326)
69.0
2P% 47.5
(166)
45.9
(118)
47.2
(183)
49.8
(254)
47.4
3P% 32.3
(235)
33.4
(177)
33.8
3PA% 31.8
(206)
30.7
(96)
36.1
(87)
31.2
(115)
32.9

When they last met, the Gamecocks found victory over the Tigers by winning the turnover battle by an impressive margin (28% to 19%) and by hitting their two-point shots (55% to 49%).  LSU stayed in the game by hitting some shots from the outside – and by Carolina going an ice-cold 2-14 from outside – but the Gamecocks pulled away in overtime for their first SEC victory.

That turnover victory isn’t something that shows up in the numbers from above, but when we look at solely SEC action, the Gamecocks could replicate that form – their third in the SEC in forcing turnovers (23.6 percent).  Otherwise, these two teams aren’t particularly special in that respect, so it’s a potential advantage that the Gamecocks will hopefully be able to press.

LSU has also struggled to grab offensive rebounds in SEC play the way they did earlier in the season, despite playing a more challenging out-of-conference schedule than Carolina.  On that end of the floor, there’s not much in the way of an advantage for either team to press – each team sits around average to below-average in nearly every respect, so it’ll be a question of who can out-play their own weaknesses.

One place that may show up is in the very three-point shooting that kept the Tigers in the game in Baton Rouge – the Gamecocks normally do a slightly above-average job of keeping teams from taking 3PAs, but LSU works hard to get those shots, and if they’re falling like they did last month, it will be tough for Carolina to replicate out-shooting the Tigers from the inside and the line in order to come away with the win.

Of course, the Gamecocks will they can shoot that well against LSU again.  Carolina hasn’t done a great job of attempting or making 3-pointers this season, and a lot of LSU’s efficiency on defense has come from teams missing a lot of 3s (which, as we’ve discussed here before, isn’t necessarily something their defense deserves credit for).

While the Tigers and Gamecocks have about the same turnover percentage offensively and defensively in SEC play (21 percent each), most of those turnovers come from steals – on the whole season, LSU is 9th in the nation at creating steals on 13.9 percent of their defensive possessions, and the Gamecocks are likely to oblige them, as they concede steals on 12.3 percent of their offensive possessions.  Avoiding turnovers otherwise will be critical.

South Carolina holds and should be able to press their advantage on the offensive glass, but that advantage has dwindled significantly as the season has gone on – in conference play, the Gamecocks are only grabbing 33.2 percent of their misses, which is good for seventh in the conference.  Given our issues on offense, grabbing second-chances again would do a lot for the Gamecocks’ chances.

Individual

USC
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Michael Carrera
41.4
26.9
51.1
14.6
25.5
7.5
20.1
62-83
61-125
5-9
LaShay Page
23.5
24.7
41.9
2.1
14.4
8.3
15.4
27-31
18-48
14-45
Laimonas Chatkevicius
17.1
24.2
46.7
11.8
17.5
12.4
29.4
13-21
20-42
1-4
Brenton Williams
50.9
21.4
53.6
1.2
8.5
12.7
17
61-73
36-76
31-78
Brian Richardson
47.9
21.4
51.5
5
11.2
13.4
15.6
24-33
34-78
35-90
Bruce Ellington
46.7
23.4
39.1
2.4
8.1
14.9
28.7
31-49
36-93
12-45
Lakeem Jackson
75.1
16.7
58.7
9.2
15.8
15.1
24.4
17-49
85-146
2-4
Eric Smith
67.2
16.8
39.3
1.3
5.2
22.4
28.3
28-41
34-86
13-50
Mindaugas Kacinas
53
16
55.5
10.2
12.8
7.9
28.7
30-44
46-74
3-17
RJ Slawson
41
17.4
46.3
13.2
13.7
8
22.4
32-45
33-69
3-12
Damien Leonard
33.5
17.8
36.5
6.8
11.7
7
23.6
13-17
13-37
13-52
LSU
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Johnny O’Bryant
60.2
28
47
12.3
21.3
11
23.8
43-72
91-193
3-10
Shavon Coleman
74.4
20.3
48.2
9.9
14.9
6.2
17.3
51-76
82-164
8-31
Anthony Hickey
70.3
21
48.7
2.4
10.5
24.4
14.9
15-29
49-98
40-126
Charles Carmouche
57
21.6
48.6
3.9
12.3
28.4
21.2
45-64
30-59
25-80
Corban Collins
22.7
20.4
51
1.6
10.6
13.8
36.1
11-15
10-29
10-20
Eddie Ludwig
13.3
23.3
38.5
13
11.5
8.2
30.3
10-22
10-26
0-0
Andre Stringer
74
18
51.6
1.2
4.6
12.7
21.1
32-42
30-75
44-111
Andrew Del Piero
30.5
17.2
54.1
9.3
15.4
3.1
21.6
15-30
33-61
0-0
Shane Hammink
26.9
16.1
41.1
8.7
7.1
14.9
29.3
8-14
11-24
5-21
Malik Morgan
50.1
14.8
48.1
4.9
12.2
11.9
12.7
19-32
23-47
18-57
Jalen Courtney
18.5
15.1
39.4
9.3
16.5
2.3
23.9
7-12
13-31
0-2

It’s likely the Tigers will follow the same playbook other teams have deployed against us – hammering the ball inside (despite their propensity otherwise to shoot from the outside).  Last time out, O’Bryant was a reasonable 4-9 from the field, but we were able to get the better of him by forcing four turnovers.  We had less success against the mammoth 7’3″ Andrew Del Piero, but fortunately his limited possessions (14 percent) kept him from beating us too badly on the interior.

The man who did most of the damage is one of the guys to keep a close eye on this evening as well – Charles Carmouche.  He does a lot to keep the LSU offense going with his assist rate and decent shooting, and also contributes to that insane steal rate by swiping the ball on 4.9 percent of his defensive possessions.

As amazing as that is, it’s eclipsed by teammate Anthony Hickey, who does even more shooting for the Tigers and steals the ball at an outlandish 6.1 percent rate (3rd in the nation).  Coupled with the 2.7 percent rate from Shavon Coleman (in the top 500 in the NCAA) and it’s easy to see how LSU creates so many turnovers.  What’s also easy to see is that they don’t really have any scary weapons on offense.  Framed positively, this is called balance.  Framed negatively, it means that if Carolina can avoid a match-up issue, they should be able to stop the Tigers on their end.

On the other side, my focus will be on seeing if our main ball-handlers – Bruce Ellington and Eric Smith – get torched by the Tigers, as they both have weak turnover rates of over 28 percent.  I’ll also be curious to see if the guys who hit big shots on the inside in Baton Rouge can continue to do so – this was one of Carrera’s best games, as he went 7-10 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line to help the Gamecocks pull out the victory (along with 10 rebounds, three on offense).  Lakeem Jackson added a double-double as well on 5-6 shooting.

If we have two Gamecocks go for double-doubles again this evening, and can turn in a turnover rate of under 20 percent again, I’d expect Carolina to sweep the season series.  It probably won’t require that much, but that would lock it in.

Projections

KenPom: L 71-69 (44%)

Vegas: W 69.5-68.5

I don’t think you’ll find anything who thinks this game will be anything other than a close one, and so it’s hard to say with certainty who we think will win.  Give us the Gamecocks, but on a knife’s edge.  Again, though the season has been disappointing in many ways, there are still smaller goals out there that can be obtained – a winning record, and giving ourselves a better chance in the SEC tournament by not playing until Thursday.  This game goes a long way to seeing whether or not those goals are attainable.

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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.

One Response to Better Know An Opponent: LSU (Part Deux)

  1. Gary says:

    Carolina needs to have some confidence. It is almost impossible to beat anyone if you don’t believe you can. Confidence similar to what they had against Arkansas would give them a great chance to win. However, if they play with the low confidence they have had the last 4 games, well……… Gotta put the past behind them and start over tonight like it is a new season. If they let the past affect the present, it will be another disappointing game. I’m hoping for the best.

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