LSU enters tonight’s game with a record 18-7, 9-3 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers have lost 3 out of their last 4 games after beginning conference play 8-0. Coach Will Wade’s squad has not shot the ball well from the perimeter this season, but still boasts the SEC’s best Offensive Rating thanks to their ability to score around the basket, make free throws, and convert second chance opportunities. LSU is led by Senior Guard Skylar Mays who is averaging 16.5 points per game on impressive 49.8%/37.5%/85.0% shooting splits. The Tigers rely very heavily on their starting five as they each average at least 11.8 points a game. This is a team that will really look to attack the rim off the dribble and either score around the basket or get to the free throw line where they make over 77% over their attempts. Defensively, LSU has struggled this season as they have allowed opponents to shoot 34.5% from beyond the arc while scoring over 72 points per game. The Tigers will look to maintain their strong play inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center where they are 13-1 this season. A win would bring them back to a tie with the Wildcats for first place in the SEC, while a loss would put them two games behind with just three weeks remaining. Let’s dive in and go over the game plan for defeating the LSU Tigers.
#1 Javonte Smart: 6’4″ 205 lbs, Sophomore Point Guard
12.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg
Point Guard. Quick with the ball in his hands. Very aggressive offensively. Capable shooter. 111 of 274 shots have been 3’s. Most 3-point attempts on the team. Shooting 31.5% from 3 on the season. Be close enough to contest the ones that he does shoot, but we would rather give him a step to guard against the drive. No right hand drives!!! He is a pretty good driver going either way but he is always going to come back right to finish. Force him to drive it left and then keep him going that way. Will shoot the pull-up jumper as he drives it. Give the pull-ups a hard contest. You can hop under the ballscreens, but need to be ready to contest if he shoots it behind. We aren’t taking away his 3’s, but we need to be close enough to give a hard contest. You can help off of him some, but be ready to closeout to contest the catch-and-shoot 3 and then bounce back to guard against the right hand drive. Make him score with you between him and the basket.
#4 Skylar Mays: 6’4″ 205 lbs, Senior Guard
16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg
All-around scorer. Have to do our best to play him straight up. Shooter. No 3’s. Shooting 37.4% from 3 (37/99). Cannot give him open 3’s, but he is more aggressive driving it. Shooting well over 50% from 2. Very aggressive driving it to the basket. He will drive it either way but is looking to come back to his right to finish. Likes to spin back to his right. Really likes to reject ballscreens. Do not let him reject. Make him come off the ballscreens. Get over the ballscreens. He is excellent scoring off the ballscreens. We can stay with him on the hedge as much as we need to in order to corral him and stay between him and the basket. We do have to go over the ballscreens, but our hedge guy has to stay between him and the basket. Chase him off downscreens and get over the flares. No help off of him. Have to be tight on him to contest everything. Extremely efficient player. Make him earn everything. No layups!!! No catch-and-shoot 3’s. More shots than points for him.
#2 Trendon Watford: 6’9″ 235 lbs, Freshman Forward
13.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg
Strong, physical wing. Right hand driver. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! You can closeout short to take away the right hand drive. He likes to use the shot fake on the perimeter to try and get you lifted so he can drive it. Do not go for shot fakes. Closeout short. Just throw a hand up if he shoots it. Really wants to drive it right. If he drives it left he is going to spin back right or finish back into you with his right hand. You need to be physical on his right shoulder so he can’t finish back into you with his right. Very physical as he drives it. Likes to pick-and-pop to look for opportunities to drive it. Good jump shooter as he drives it. Be there to contest all of the J’s. Not thinking about passing as he drives it. Bring help when he has it inside and dig the ball out. Stay between him and the basket. Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. Excellent offensive rebounder. Averaging over 2 offensive rebounds per game. BOX OUT!!!
#0 Darius Days: 6’6″ 240 lbs, Sophomore Forward
11.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Strong forward. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! Willing shooter. 108 of 213 shots have been 3’s, but just shooting 27.8% from beyond the arc. Significantly better from 2 than from 3. Closeout a step or two short to guard against the drive and just give a contest if he shoots it. Really likes to pick-and-pop to either catch-and-shoot or drive it right. Slips a lot of ballscreens that he goes to set. If he slips it you have to stay with him as opposed to staying to help on the ball. Extremely strong and physical as he drives it. You have to be ready for him to put his shoulder into you as he drives it. When he gets it around the basket he is looking to score with his right hand. Right hand, left shoulder if he gets it in the post. Excellent offensive rebounder. BOX OUT!!! Averaging almost 3 offensive rebounds per game. Have to find him and be physical when the shot goes up. Make him score with you between him and the basket.
#5 Emmitt Williams: 6’6″ 230 lbs, Sophomore Forward
13.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg
Undersized, strong forward. Wants to score around the basket. Non-shooter. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. When he catches it away from the basket he is going to want to drive it right. No right hand drives! Will ballscreen and roll to the basket. Have to make him score with you between him and the basket. Help off of him anytime he is on the perimeter. Closeout short. When he gets it around the basket his is going to shot fake to try and finish around you. Stay down!!! Excellent offensive rebounder. BOX OUT!!! Averaging over 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.
#11 Charles Manning, Jr.: 6’5″ 200 lbs, Junior Guard
7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Capable shooter, but more of a right hand driver. No right hand drives!!! We want to closeout a step short to guard against the right hand drive. He is not thinking about passing as he drives it. You can help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. Once it gets kicked to him closeout a step short and just throw a hand up to contest if he shoots. Stay between him and the basket!
#14 Marlon Taylor: 6’6″ 210 lbs, Senior Guard
4.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Capable shooter, but more of a right hand driver. No right hand drives!!! We want to closeout a step short to guard against the left hand drive. He is shooting a higher percentage from 3 than 2, but is good at getting to the foul line. Once he drives it do not bail him out by fouling. Stay between him and the basket. Big, strong guard. Have to box him out. Averages 1.6 offensive rebounds per game. Box out!
#15 Aundre Hyatt: 6’5″ 225 lbs, Freshman Guard
1.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Willing 3-point shooter. 44 of 60 shots have been 3’s. Be close enough to give a hard contest if he shoots it, but he is just 10/44 on the season. If he makes a couple then we will adjust and treat him like a traditional shooter.
LSU is a balanced team offensively with each of their five starters averaging between 11.8 and 16.5 points per game. They will primarily be in 4-around-1 Motion with their post player floating out to screen on the perimeter and set random ballscreens and roll back to the basket. Along with running a couple of Horns sets in the half-court, they will call a few different entries into their Motion to get some movement at the beginning of the possession. They will typically begin with one of three entries: a high, middle “stacked” ballscreen, a staggered double away for a guard in the corner, or a downscreen to a flat ballscreen. As a team, the Tigers are a below-average team from beyond the arc, but one of the best in country at finishing from 2-point range. Also, as they will always look to attack the basket off the dribble, they are very good at getting to the foul line where they convert 77.4% of their opportunities. The clips below will show their entries into Motion and a couple of other offensive actions. This will be a game though where personnel is more important than knowing their overall offense. Only Skylar Mays is truly dangerous from 3-point range and all of their guys are much more comfortable driving it than shooting it.
Stacked High Middle Ballscreen: This is probably their favorite Motion entry. They will bring two forwards to the top of the key shoulder-to-shoulder to set a middle ballscreen. One of the screeners will roll to the basket and the other will pop. In this example, they throw it back to Watford on the perimeter. This is a shot we will give up. He is only 14/53 from 3 and extremely high percentage from 2.
Stacked High Middle Ballscreen: In this clip, Watford is the one that rolls to the basket while Days pops. They throw it back to Days and clear out the ball side corner to allow Watford to isolate in the post. As opposed to the 3-point attempt above, this is an example of how he really wants to score. Look at how he is just pounding into the chest of the Auburn defender and then finishes back into him with his right hand. Have to be extremely physical (and maybe take a charge) on him.
Stacked High Middle Ballscreen: Here is one more clip of their stack ballscreen. This shows Days slipping, something he does a lot, and throwing down a big dunk. We won’t “ICE” the way Missouri does so we will be in better position anyway, but there still is no reason for Watford’s defender to not be inside of Days to guard against the slip.
Staggered Double Away: Another of their favorite Motion entries begins by reversing the ball through the trail spot. When the ball is reversed they will go set a staggered double for a guard in the corner. If they don’t have anything off of the double they will downscreen for the first screener. Here, Mays tries to drive it and kicks to the corner. Terrible close out by Alabama who would much rather drive it right than shoot the 3.
Downscreen to Flat Ballscreen: A third entry into their Motion begins in more of a 1-4 Low alignment. Days ends up kind of slipping into space and the Auburn defender closeouts out a little too hard and leaves his feet forcing them to help off of Mays. #4 Mays is the one guy that we really want to take away catch-and-shoot 3’s from.
Downscreen to Flat Ballscreen: Here, just a couple of possessions later, they run the same action with the same Mays/Days ballscreen. Once again, Days never really sets the screen but the Auburn defender stays on the ball instead of going with Days. This time Days knocks in the 3. If there is no screen, there is no need to switch or hedge. When Days slips we have to stay with him and not get into help situations.
Watford Iso: In the half-court this is something they will go to quite a bit when they need a bucket. The point guard hits a wing and the circles underneath as the ball is reversed back to him. Watford will work his way towards the block in what appears to be setting up a traditional cross screen, downscreen action. However, instead of setting the cross screen Watford will just turn and post. Once Watford puts it on the floor we need to come help and dig the ball out. He is really tough one-on-one.
Horns-Flex: One half-court set they will outside of their Motion is running Flex from a Horns alignment. This is something we have guarded a lot this season and the way LSU runs it is no different. The point guard hits an elbow and cuts inside to set the flex screen and then gets a downscreen. They will stay in Flex for the possession.
Defensively, LSU is primarily a man-to-man team. They will be in the gaps and really pack it in to shut off driving lanes and keep the ball out of the paint. Their philosophy is to make you beat them from the perimeter. They are good at defending without fouling as well. At times they have mixed in some 1-3-1 Zone as well as some extended 2-2-1 press. Due to the way they stuff the gaps we have to not over-penetrate and get into precarious situations that lead to live ball turnovers. We just need to keep the ball moving and change sides of the floor to shift the defense and attack that way.
Keys to the Game
- Keep them out of the paint. They are very aggressive off the dribble and really want to get the ball inside. We are only taking away 3’s from #4 Mays, so we should be able to stuff the gaps and play a step or two off to guard against the right hand drives.
- BOX OUT!!! They are a very good offensive rebounding team and rely on second chance points to make up for their lack of 3-point shooting. We need to hold them to single-digit offensive rebounds.
- Guard without fouling. We know they are going to drive it as us, but since we are playing a step or two off we shouldn’t pick up cheap fouls as they drive it. They are a great free throw shooting team. Stay between them and the basket and make them score over you without fouling.
- Shoot with confidence. After a 2-22 shooting performance from 3-point range against Ole Miss we cannot afford to turn down open 3’s in this game. Have your hands and feet ready and knock them in.