Halfway through the league schedule, LSU (12-9, 3-6 SEC) hosts one of its vanquished foes at home on Saturday.
This Arkansas team, Will Wade says, won’t fall quite as easily as the one the Tigers knocked off 75-54 in Fayetteville earlier this month.
“We caught them on an off night the first time we played them,” Wade said. “We won’t catch them sleeping tomorrow. We’ll get their best shot.”
“You Have to Make Open Shots”
The Razorbacks (15-7, 4-5 SEC) have won four of six overall, while LSU has lost five of six since a stunning road win over Mike Anderson’s squad. The Tigers’ Achilles heel in that time has been what was, for the early part of the season, its strength: shooting the ball.
LSU is knocking down just 28.9 percent of its 3-pointers since league play began, with all five perimeter rotation players – Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays, Daryl Edwards, Brandon Sampson, and Randy Onwuasor – combining to shoot just 25 percent from beyond the arc. If not for the sharpshooting of big men Duop Reath (44% from 3 in conference play) and Aaron Epps (40.6%), the Tigers would be in even more trouble.
“We can sit here and slice things however you want to slice them, but you have to make open shots,” Wade said Friday. “We’re in the SEC. You want to play in the SEC, you’ve got to be able to stick open shots. The reality is right now, our guards aren’t making them.”
Wade noted LSU went just 1-of-4 on what he called H-O-R-S-E 3s in Wednesday’s 84-61 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday. If not for Reath’s recent offensive surge – he’s scored at least 20 points in three of the Tigers’ last four outings – Wade’s bunch would be starving for buckets.
LSU Backcourt Shooting in SEC play
Daryl Edwards,19.6,2.0,4.4,.450,0.6,2.6,.217,0.8,1.0,.778,5.3 [/table]
Perhaps that’s by design, Wade noted, that opponents are allowing Reath to deal down low while choking supply to and contesting the shots of LSU’s guards.
“Teams are smart,” Wade said. “It’s hard to win two-by-two. He’s getting one-on-one coverage, and he can score. He’s taking advantage of it. But the sweet spot for him is to score 14 or 16 points a game on 10 or 11 shots. Now, we’re feeding him 15 to 18 times a game. We’re not going to win that way, even though he can score a bunch of points doing that.
“Teams are letting him go one-on-one, which is what I would do, too. Then, they can take away other things. It’s a smart strategy.”
LSU will return Wayde Sims and Brandon Rachal after their one-game suspensions for a violation of team rules. Neither traveled to Knoxville, but both will be available for Saturday.
“It’ll help a little bit, I guess,” Wade said. “We need some production from them. They played 22 minutes and got 2 points and 2 rebounds between them at Auburn. Sometimes, that stuff’s a little overrated. As long as you don’t get in foul trouble, you don’t necessarily have to have all that many guys.”
LSU vs. Arkansas
2:30 p.m., Pete Maravich Assembly Center
TV: SEC Network
Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network