Texas Tech-LSU Preview

Texas Tech-LSU Preview

The Red Raiders host the Tigers 8 p.m. Wednesday at United Spirit Arena, where Texas Tech is 6-0 this season. Tech need a big night inside from junior forward Jordan Tolbert (pictured).

Texas Tech (7-3) vs. LSU (6-2)

Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Spirit Arena

When: 8 p.m. (CT) Wednesday

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network by Learfield Sports

The matchup: Although the Tigers are as yet unranked, they have gotten off to an impressive start. LSU's only two losses are to UMass and to then No. 21 Memphis by seven in Baton Rouge. LSU's best win is undoubtedly an overtime victory over Butler, although they also put it on St. Joe's by 17 earlier in the year.

The Tigers are big up front. Head coach Johnny Jones (formerly head coach at The University of North Texas) can call upon four different players who are 6-foot-9 or better. And they're not string-beans either. Johnny O'Bryant goes 255, Jarell Martin checks in at 240, Darcy Malone tips the scales at 230, and John Odo weighs 235.

It is O'Bryant and Dallas freshman Jordan Mickey who do most of LSU's damage inside. Both average in the neighborhood of 15 points and 10 boards per contest, which goes some way toward explaining LSU's plus-nine edge on the glass against their opponents. And by the way, Mickey is averaging close to four blocked shots per game as well.

The Tigers are small at guard with 5-foot-11 Andre Stringer and 5-foot-10 Anthony Hickey carrying most of the load. Hickey's assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly three-to-one.

Potential weaknesses are LSU's 64-percent free throw shooting and the fact that the Tigers have played only one true road game this season, which was a season-opening loss to Massachusetts. A large and boisterous crowd at the USA could make a difference.

Texas Tech continues to be led by senior forward Jaye Crockett who averages 14 points and seven rebounds per game. But he has been Tech's only truly consistent performer this season. Jordan Tolbert and Robert Turner both average in double digits scoring, but both have been up and down.

The Red Raiders have slowly developed into a good free throw shooting team, connecting on 72 percent of their attempts from the stripe. Another Tech strength is pestering the opposition into turnovers. On average, the Red Raiders force 14 turnovers per contest. This could be significant against an LSU team that turns the ball over nearly 13 times per game.

Tech player to watch: The play of forward Jordan Tolbert may be the key to Tech's season. Outside of Crockett, who always delivers, and Tolbert, Tech doesn't have an inside guy who's capable of putting up a double-double in scoring and rebounds. But Tolbert has been inconsistent and foul-prone this season. Against big, physical teams such as LSU, it is absolutely critical that Tolbert comes to play.

LSU player to watch: The immediate impact of freshman forward Jordan Mickey has been a very pleasant surprise for LSU. Although he drew serious recruiting notice in his senior high school season, Mickey was not the jewel of the Tigers' outstanding recruiting class. Nevertheless, the 6-foot-8 jumping jack has been a force, particularly blocking shots and cleaning the offensive glass. Whichever team has the better Jordan May win this game.

Notable: LSU head coach Johnny Jones played on the 1981 Tiger squad that went to the Final Four, and was an assistant coach for the 1986 LSU team that became the first No. 11 seed in NCAA tournament history to advance to the Final Four.

Quotable: "We're 7-3 so I'd say we've done a good job. I'd give us about a B- or a C+, but we've got to get a lot better"—Tubby Smith.

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