Auburn prepares to host another Top 20 match-up tomorrow morning as #18 LSU comes into town for an 11AM Tip. LSU comes in off a stunning loss to Vanderbilt, their first SEC loss the season. With Auburn at 7-2 and LSU at 8-1 in the SEC, the winner of this game will be in first place in the league.
To get a better understanding of LSU, we reached out to our sister site, And The Valley Shook, for answers. My thanks to Zach Junda for taking the time to answer our questions!
- LSU went into Vanderbilt with an 8-0 SEC record and by all accounts look poised to come into today’s match-up at 9-0. What happened Wednesday night?
ZJ: William if I knew I’d tell you. I live in Nashville these days so of course I had to go, and there was something in the air that didn’t feel right all day long. Maybe it’s that funky raised court of Vanderbilt’s, maybe they were looking ahead to Auburn but this was a team that wasn’t ready to play and they ran into a team who had been playing better lately. Vandy was up 10 on Kentucky in Rupp, only lost by 6 to Florida and gave you guys a pretty good scare to start league play. Vanderbilt was due. LSU just had the misfortune of walking on a landmine.
2. LSU’s had a knack for winning a lot of close games this year, including 6 straight games in January by 4 points or less. This happened last year too but what is it with the clutch factor for LSU to be able to win all of these close games?
ZJ: I think it’s because LSU has had some serious dudes in the front court the last two year. Naz Reid, Emmitt Williams, Kavell Bigby-Williams, Darius Days, Trendon Watford. These are the type of guys that, when the game slows down, you can just throw it inside and they’ll get a bucket. And LSU has had smart ball handlers the last two years. Tremont Waters was a Bob Cousy finalist last year and Skylar Mays, did ya hear this have ya heard about this, is a 4.0 pre-med student. LSU’s been blessed to have guards with absurd basketball IQs and complete specimens on the front court.
3. LSU’s offense has been outstanding at the bucket (7th in 2-point FG%) and at offensive rebounding (8th in the country). Have any opposing defenses been able to slow that down this season?
ZJ: Not really. LSU’s been held to under 70 three times this year. LSU gets so many second chance opportunities because they have more length than just about anyone in the country. No the only thing that slows LSU down is LSU deciding to shoot threes. LSU’s shooting 30 percent from three and yet they insist on taking about 20 a game.
4. I got a chance to watch freshmen Trendon Watford up close for the first time the other night (I also attended the LSU-Vandy game Wednesday night) and came away extremely impressed with him. He returns to Alabama for the first time in a LSU uniform for this matchup. Just talk about the impact he’s made on this year’s LSU squad.
ZJ: Yeah Watford has really helped fill the void left by Naz Reid, and honestly I think he’s a better player than Reid. Naz was a more impressive looking basketball player, but Watford’s the better player in my opinion. It helps that Watford has Darius Days and Emmitt Williams flanking either side of him, but Watford’s his own man. He’s the guy I trust above any other LSU big to convert a three-point play with the game on the line.
5. Darius Days is a guy that seems to flying under the radar. He is 26th in Offensive Rating, LSU’s best rebounder and shoots extremely well from 2. Why hasn’t the average SEC hoops fan heard about him? And who (along with Days) is an under the radar player Auburn fans should be concerned about going into this game?
ZJ: Well of the LSU starters everyone’s got a story and Days...well, doesn’t. Javonte Smart’s got that whole strong ass offer thing; Skylar Mays is a 4.0 medical student; Trendon Watford was a five-star; Emmitt Williams wears his shorts a little high and broke LeBron’s scoring record at the Jordan Brand Classic. Days? I mean...Days doesn’t really have a moment that makes you think “oh yeah that guy.” But Days is probably LSU’s most well-rounded front court player, and can make a three from the corner. He’s the kind of guy who you may not know leading up to a game, but you’ll remember him afterward.
As for a guy to look out for, Aundre Hyatt redshirted in 2018-19 but now he’s eligible and he’s carved out a role as one of LSU’s best bench players. And because of his size he’s able to guard a team’s two guard or their small forward. He gives LSU some much needed flexibility.
6. But seriously, how in the world did you guys give up 99 points to Vandy????
ZJ: Let’s just say, mistakes were made. Who hasn’t had a regrettable night out on Nashville?
7. Lastly, how do you see this matchup playing out? Do you have a score prediction?
ZJ: LSU needs this game. Losing Wednesday night amplified the importance of Saturday and I’d like to think the Vanderbilt game may be a the kind of loss that refocuses the Tigers. LSU may play down to its competition from time to time, but when they go up against teams that are in their weight class they usually play well. Yeah losing to Vanderbilt sucked but LSU’s still 24-3 in its last 27 SEC games and had won 12 in a row on the road. I like LSU’s chances.
.......so congrats to Auburn on their big win and being in first place