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A Brief, By the Numbers Look at the LSU Tigers

Louisiana State comes into tonight's matchup with YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles with a 7-3 record on the year, ranked 108th on Ken Pomeroy's site. The Tigers are 3-1 at home, 2-1 on the road, and 2-1 on neutral sites, with their best win coming over Georgia Tech -- a 59-50 rock fight at the Charleston Classic -- and their worst loss coming at home to a dreadful South Alabama team that lost to Florida State by 41 earlier this year.

Like many of Marquette's recent opponents, LSU is on something of a youth movement: the Tigers have just three seniors on their roster, and the only one who sees major minutes is forward Storm Warren (18.3 mpg). Otherwise, the lion's share of the minutes goes to underclassmen, with freshmen Anthony Hickey (32.4 mpg), Johnny O'Bryant III (19.4 mpg), and John Isaac (15.3 mpg), and sophomores Ralston Turner (28.5 mpg) and Andre Stringer (32.4 mpg) getting a lot of run in the early part of the season.

* Update: after I published this post this morning, I learned that Andre Stringer isn't going to play tonight. He's been held out of LSU's last two games because of dizziness and fainting spells, and doctors haven't been able to figure out what's wrong with him yet.

With love to for the info, here's a brief, by the numbers look at the Tigers:

(1) LSU has been hit-and-miss offensively. The Tigers have played five games where they averaged more than 1.00 points per possession, with a high of 1.30 points per possession (96 points in 74 possessions) against Nicholls State in LSU's opener. If you're doing the math, you realize that means there are also five games where LSU averaged less than 1.00 points per possession -- and, in fact, they've had three games where they've averaged less than 0.90 points per possession: against Coastal Carolina (0.86 points per possession); against Houston (0.87 points per possession); and against Rutgers (0.85 points per possession).

But toss out that game against Nicholls State (and you probably should, as NSU is ranked 333rd in Ken Pom), and the only offensive game of note is LSU's performance against Northwestern in the Charleston Classic, when the Tigers dropped an 88-82 barnburner to the Wildcats. LSU was white-hot from the floor against Northwestern (49% shooting overall, and 85% on free throws), but that was the exception rather than the rule: the Tigers rank 200th in the nation in three-point shooting (33.1%), but they really struggle inside the arc, where they make only 41.7% of their attempts (312th amongst D1 teams). Add that up, and you've got a chilly eFG% of 44.0%, which ranks 302nd out of the 345 D1 teams.

(2) They make up for the spotty offense with solid D. With the exception of the game against Northwestern, when LSU was blitzed for 1.24 points per possession, the Tigers' defense has been very good: they've limited their opponents to an average of 0.91 points per possession, holding opponents to an eFG% of 45.4%. LSU's three-point defense is very good (29.9% opponent shooting), they block a fair amount of shots (3.8 per game), but where they really excel is pressuring the ball: LSU averages 8.8 steals per game, good for 42nd amongst D1 schools. A pair of tiny ballhawks -- the 5'9" Stringer and 5'11" Hickey -- lead the swarm, with Stringer averaging 2.0 steals per game and Hickey averaging 2.2.

(3) Keep 'em off the offensive glass, because they're not going to give up possessions. LSU has been very good protecting the ball on offense: they average only 13.4 turnovers per contest while forcing 17.7 per game from the opposition. Meanwhile, the shoddy shooting numbers give the Tigers plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds, and they haven't disappointed in that area: LSU rebounds around 37% of its own misses (15.4 per game), which ranks 49th nationally. The primary rebounders are the aforementioned Johnny O'Bryant III -- and what a fantastic name that is -- and junior Justin Hamilton, both of whom average 6.5 boards per game, with O'Bryant pulling down 3.0 offensive rebounds per game and Hamilton averaging 3.6.