GAME NOTES: The LSU Tigers will wrap up a two-game homestand at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night when they welcome the Missouri Tigers to Baton Rouge for an SEC clash.
Missouri was in the Top 25 following a 12-1 start to the season but has fallen back a bit in SEC action with a 2-2 league record. It returned home to Columbia on Saturday afternoon after a two-game road trip and celebrated by dismissing Alabama, 68-47.
LSU is also off to a 2-2 start in conference play after it took down Vanderbilt on Saturday night at home, 81-58. The Tigers, who are 11-5 overall this season, have won two of their last three and are 7-2 at the Maravich Center.
LSU leads the all-time series by a 2-1 count, but Missouri won the most recent contest in Columbia on March 2, 2013, 89-76.
Missouri only held a one-point lead at the half of their most recent game but opened up the second stanza on a 17-4 run to pull away from Alabama, eventually making claim to a commanding 21-point victory. It shot a modest 42.6 percent from the field but helped itself with a 25-of-34 showing at the free-throw line and held Alabama to more turnovers (15) than field goals (14). Jabari Brown shined in the win with 24 points on 7-of-9 from the field (including 3-of-5 from 3-point range). Jordan Clarkson tallied 16 points and five steals, Earnest Ross scored 12 points and Johnathan Williams posted nine points and 14 boards.
On the season, Missouri shoots an impressive 46.3 percent from the field for 74.6 ppg, which is more than enough to support its stellar scoring defense (65.2 ppg). It also makes nearly 20 free throws per outing at a 72.3 percent clip and boasts an outstanding +7.8 rebounding margin. Jostling for position as the team's top scorer are Brown (18.8 ppg) and Clarkson (18.6 ppg), with Brown draining 46-of-107 from beyond the arc. Ross (13.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) rounds out one of the SEC's best scoring trios.
LSU opened up a 10-point lead over Vanderbilt in its latest bout and put the game on cruise control from that point forward on its way to a 23-point victory. It outshot the Commodores from the field, 48.3 percent to 35.8 percent, and held a commanding 48-24 rebounding advantage. Leading the way in the triumph was Johnny O'Bryant III, who logged 22 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Jordan Mickey chipped in 13 points, while Jarell Martin and Shane Hammink netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
In putting up 75.8 ppg, LSU is one of the few SEC teams that had a more productive offense than Missouri, and its defensive numbers (.385 FG percentage, 68.1 ppg) have been strong as well. It regularly earns extra possessions with its +4.8 rebounding margin, but it has shot itself in the foot with a poor showing at the foul line (.662). The team's strength comes in the frontcourt, where O'Bryant (14.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and Mickey (13.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg) make up one of the more imposing forward duos in the nation. Andre Stringer is the top threat from the perimeter with 12.0 ppg, while Martin, Anthony Hickey and Shavon Coleman all post between 8.1 and 9.1 ppg.
Although LSU has been solid this season, it has not stepped up its play against superior competition. Even on its home floor and with the advantage in the paint, LSU likely won't be able to slow down Missouri's elite scorers.
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