LSU BASKETBALL REPORT: Tigers Playing with A Lot on the Line When They Travel to Take on Arkansas on Wednesday Night

Matt McMahon against Alabama on February 12, 2024
LSU head coach Matt McMahon is looking for his first commitment in the class of 2025. PHOTO BY Michael Bacigalupi

LSU basketball plays its last road game of the regular season on Wednesday at Arkansas and will be trying to finish the season over .500 in SEC play for the first time since 2021.

A win against the Razorbacks would see LSU (16-13, 8-8 SEC) clinch at least an even record in conference play. If LSU can close out the season with two wins it can clinch a winning record in conference play just a season after going 2-16. The Tigers haven’t finished with a winning record in SEC play since they went 11-6 in the 2020-21 season.

LSU is coming off a 75-61 win over Vanderbilt where five different players scored over ten points.

Arkansas (14-15, 5-11 SEC) is coming off a 111-102 loss to No. 16 Kentucky and has now lost two games in a row. The Razorbacks have yet to beat an SEC team ranked above 10th place in the conference. They beat 10th placed Texas A&M twice, 14th placed Missouri twice and 11th placed Georgia once this season.

Despite struggling to win games this season, Arkansas’ offense has managed to put up points. The Razorbacks are sixth in the SEC in scoring with 76.8 points per game which slight edges out LSU’s 76.4 points per game. They’ve scored over 80 points in three straight games including 102 in their loss to Kentucky, 82 in their loss to Vanderbilt and 88 in their win over Missouri.

Khalif Battle has led the way for Arkansas over that three-game stretch. He’s second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game, but over the last three games he has averaged 37.3 points per game.

He dropped 42 in the win over Missouri and hasn’t had less than 34 points during that stretch. Battle has a knack for getting to the free throw line. In his last three games he’s gone to the line 49 times and made 45 of those shots.

Battle missed practice on Monday though and is a little banged up according to Arkansas coach Eric Musselman.

““He’s banged up again because of the minutes that he’s played,” Musselman said. “Today he was not able to practice. Hopefully he’ll be able to get rehab over the next couple of days and get ready for the game on Wednesday.”

On the season, Tramon Mark leads the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game. He scored 23 points in the loss to Kentucky on Saturday. Mark and Battle are the only two players on the team to average over ten points per game. Trevon Brazile leads the team in rebounds with six per game.

“Great challenge at Arkansas on Wednesday,” LSU head coach Matt McMahon said. “I thought [Arkansas] was awesome on Saturday at Rupp Arena. Scored over 100 points, Battle has been phenomenal, Mark is an elite guard, Mitchell at the five averaging 14 and seven over their last five games. It’ll be a great test for us on Wednesday.”

LSU won the first matchup with Arkansas 95-74. Will Baker was the top scorer in that game with 25 points while shooting 82% from the field. Mike Williams III and Jordan Wright each pitched in 13 points. Jalen Cook added another 20 from the bench, but LSU will be without Cook moving forward.

Cook has missed the last five games due to a leg injury, but McMahon announced on Monday that Cook is now suspended from the team.

“He is currently suspended from the team for a failure to meet the standards that I have in place for the program,” McMahon said.

Point guard Trae Hannibal has stepped up in Cook’s absence and has started the last nine games at point guard for LSU. LSU has had its most successful run of the season without Cook and has won four of its last five including two wins over ranked teams.

“[Hannibal] has really grown and developed as a point guard this year,” McMahon said. “His decision making, his ability to get everyone involved in the offense has really been done at an elite level over the last two months.”

LSU’s rematch with Arkansas will start Wednesday at 6 p.m. from Fayetteville.

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Will Nickel

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