At A Glance:
LSU: 8-2. Not ranked in AP, ESPN or BP. RPI: 69 BPI: 89
Washington State: 8-2. Not ranked in AP, ESPN or BP. RPI: 82 BPI: 59
Bo Spencer is the lone scorer from the backcourt that is part of the Bayou Bengals trio of scoring threats. He doesn’t handle the bell exceptionally well but that’s a recurring theme on this team (their assist to turnover ratio is about even and they only average 12.5 assists a game). Spencer clearly fits into the scorer/not shooter category with a mediocre 35 percent field goal percentage. Aside from Spencer, youngsters Chris Bass and Aaron Dotson take care of the ball but rarely shoot it.
The Cougars are loaded at guard, led by Klay (son of Mychal) Thompson with an eye-popping 25 points a game. Reggie Moore comes off a double-digit assist game in their last win while Nikola Kaprovica and Abe Lodwick are outside shooting threats. Marcus Capers and Michael Harthun also contribute solid minutes.
Advantage: Washington State. Thompson might outscore the entire Tigers backcourt by himself without any help but he’ll get some help anyway.
Tasmin Mitchell has established a stronghold at the small forward position and never comes out even to take a drink of water (38 minutes a game). His forward counterpart, Storm Warren, has emerged as a double-double threat in every game with shotblocking capabilities but is also a threat to foul out as well. Dennis Harris has shown promise and could be a decent center one day while Eddie Ludwig and Zack Kinsley show occasional flashes off the bench.
As loaded as the Cougars are in the backcourt they are painfully thin up front. Lodwick usually plays out of position at power forward and DeAngelo Casto, while certainly game, has his hands full in the pivot. Brock Motum and James Watson are the only players to offer any real relief off the bench.
Advantage: LSU. Mitchell should get by Kaprovica at will while Warren will manhandle Lodwick on the boards.
Trent Johnson hasn’t had many bad seasons – in fact, he hasn’t been through a losing campaign since 2000-01, his second year at Nevada. But this year the SEC has rebounded and a 27-8 repeat looks unlikely. He has to hope his three horses don’t burn out in the middle of conference play.
Ken Bone got Portland State relevant again for the first time since Freeman Williams was plying his trade for the Vikings in the mid-1970s. He hasn’t missed a beat with the Cougars and has lifted the brakes off their slow-paced offense, making his charges more exciting than the tortoise-paced editions under the Bennett family.
Advantage: Washington State. Johnson will try to reign in the tempo but Bone has gotten his kids to force action consistently throughout the year.
It all depends on if we see Slayer-style thrash metal (Washington State) or R. Kelly-style slow jams (LSU). I like games that feature contrasting styles and strengths, especially when the opponents are pretty evenly matched. Tonight, the edge goes to Wazoo, who have managed to pour in the points in nearly every contest.
Washington State 78, LSU 66.