‘Over-The-Hump’ LSU Now Focused on No. 17 Kentucky, Cook Remains Questionable

Jalen Cook
Jalen Cook remains questionable for the Kentucky game with a "lower leg" injury, LSU coach Matt McMahon said. Cook missed the Tennessee and South Carolina, a last-minute scratch in both games.
#22 Kentucky vs #13 Auburn Basketball Highlights (2/17/2024)

LSU basketball looked dead in the water heading into its matchup with South Carolina. It had lost six of its last seven games and its next two games were against ranked opponents. It looked like it would extend its losing streak to at least five games before it got a win.

But then, the Tigers (13-12, 5-7 SEC) shocked No. 11 South Carolina on the road and showed that it won’t be a pushover for other teams. The win came just four days after LSU gave Florida all it can handle in a heartbreaking loss in Gainesville. LSU will need to continue to play at that level if it hopes to string together its first pair of back-to-back wins since it beat Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in consecutive games on Jan. 6 and Jan. 9.

LSU is coming up against a tough Kentucky team this Wednesday. Kentucky (18-7, 8-4 SEC) is ranked No. 17 in the country and is coming off a big win on the road against No. 13 Auburn. Kentucky has now won two three of its last four with the lone loss coming to Gonzaga.

LSU’s key to the game might be to slow down the Wildcat offense and keep the game low-scoring.

Antonio Reeves is the leading scorer for the Wildcats averaging 19.5 points per game. The only players averaging more points per game than Reeves in the SEC are Alabama’s Mark Sears and Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht.

Kentucky’s offense is one of the best in the nation. The Wildcats score 88.2 points per game which is more than every team except Alabama and Arizona. Kentucky excels at creating shooting opportunities and averages 17.4 assists per game, 14th best in the country.

Reed Sheppard is fourth in the SEC averaging 4.1 assists per game and Rod Dillingham is tied for sixth in the SEC averaging 4.0 assists per game.

LSU’s top assister is Jordan Wright with 2.6 assists per game. Wright also leads LSU in rebounds per game and steals per game. He’s second on the team in points per game behind Jalen Cook. Cook missed the game against South Carolina due to a leg injury that also forced him to miss the game against No. 6 Tennessee. Head coach Matt McMahon said Cook is questionable for the game and will test out how he feels in practice to see if he can play against Kentucky.

If Cook misses another game, LSU will likely need a better performance from Will Baker to beat Kentucky. Baker scored just two points against South Carolina but had led the Tigers in scoring in the four games before that.

Kentucky’s success on offense is sparked by its shooting, particularly from three-point range. The Wildcats are shooting 49% from the field this season. It makes 9.6 threes per game, 17th best in the country. Kentucky makes 40.5% of its threes, the best mark in the country.

Kentucky’s defense isn’t as good as its offense though. It gives up 77.4 points game which ranks 307th in the country. LSU gives up 74.3 points per game.

Kentucky averages 38.6 rebounds per game and gives up 37.6 rebounds per game to its opponents. LSU records 35.9 rebounds per game and gives up 35.8 rebounds per game to its opponents.

LSU’s game against Kentucky is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. in the PMAC. It will be televised on ESPN.

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Will Nickel

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