FLORIDA, TAMPA Before his team’s second meeting with LSU in the regular season, Arkansas head basketball coach Eric Musselman noted, “It’s hard to beat a team twice.”
The Tigers, however, were swept by the Razorbacks. Arkansas will attempt to defeat LSU for a third time on Friday (1:30 p.m. CT) in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
Arkansas Basketball Vs. LSU
It took a pair of free throws from JD Notae in the final seconds of the teams’ most recent meeting, which occurred in Arkansas’ penultimate game of the season, for the Razorbacks to pull off a 77-76 victory.
As the No. 4 seed, Arkansas (24-7) received a double bye in the tournament. LSU, seeded fifth at 22-10 overall, defeated Missouri, seeded seventh, on Thursday to go to the Sweet 16. What to watch for in the Tigers and Razorbacks third meeting.
On KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, LSU comes in at #5. As a defence, the Tigers have allowed only 38.4 percent shooting from the field, good for eighth best in the nation.
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Tigers’ Defence is Strong
The Tigers’ defence is strong in part because of how well it forces turnovers. The Tigers average 11.2 steals a game, which is the most of any team. Guard Eric Gaines accounts for 2.1 steals per game, third-best in the NBA. The Tigers had a turnover advantage of 13 (9 steals) in their previous game versus Arkansas.
Arkansas’ late-season surge has been fueled in large part by the Razorbacks’ defence, but the team may be without one of its finest defensive players if Au’Diese Toney is ruled out. Musselman revealed the senior guard was still wearing a boot on his injured ankle on Tuesday despite having travelled with the team. The injury occurred late in the previous game against LSU.
On Thursday, after LSU advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Missouri, Wade quipped that his team’s last hope was to “pray” to slow down Notae.
Indeed, the senior in red has been that impressive. Notae is averaging 18.9 points per game and shooting 48.6 percent from the field as the Razorbacks take the court for their first SEC Tournament matchup on Friday.
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Notae leads Arkansas in scoring by more than seven points and is the Razorbacks’ biggest offensive threat in transition. Although Notae did have an impact in the game between these two teams before, LSU was able to limit him to 12 points and keep him in control for the most part.
The #15/16 Arkansas Razorbacks (seeded fourth) will face the LSU Tigers (seeded fifth) in the quarterfinal of the SEC Tournament. The game is scheduled to begin at about 1:20 pm (CT) and will be broadcast.