Old Spice Classic Preview: LSU

Johnny O'Bryant and the LSU Tigers have won three straight after dropping the season opener by two at UMass. Come inside to preview the Bayou Bengals in advance of this week's Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

ABOUT LSU

Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Conference: SEC
Home Venue: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
Head Coach: Johnny Jones (2nd season, 22-13)
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2009
2012-13 Record: 19-12 (9-9)
2012-13 Postseason: None
2013-14 Record: 3-1 (results below in order)
- L, 92-90 at Massachusetts
- W, 88-74 vs. Northwestern State
- W, 81-54 vs. UNO
- W, 89-66 vs. Southeastern (La.)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

G Anthony Hickey (5-11, 182, Jr.)
G Andre Stringer (5-10, 190, Sr.)
F Jarell Martin (6-9, 241, Fr.)
F Jordan Mickey (6-8, 220, Fr.)
F Johnny O'Bryant III (6-9, 256, Jr.)

BY THE NUMBERS

Leading Scorer: Andre Stringer, 18.3
Leading Rebounder: Johnny O'Bryant, 11.5
Leader in Assists: Anthony Hickey, 5.8
Team Points Per Game: 87.0
Points Conceded Per Game: 71.5

STATE OF THE TEAM

In year under two under Johnny Jones, a former LSU point guard and long-time assistant coach, the Tigers are eyeing a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. Giving reason for optimism in Baton Rouge is a talented crop of freshmen that comprised a consensus top-10 recruiting class in 2013 to go along with a veteran nucleus, including three returning starters.

Back for the Tigers in 2013-14 are backcourt mates Anthony Hickey (10.8 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.8 spg through four games) and Andre Stringer (18.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) as well as power forward Johnny O'Bryant III (17.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg), a first-team All-SEC performer from a season ago. They're joined in the starting lineup by blue-chip freshman forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey. Martin, who suffered a sprained ankle 33 seconds into LSU's opener at Massachusetts, is back after missing virtually three full games while Mickey has been a force inside, averaging 14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks. Largely on the strength of Mickey and O'Bryant, the Tigers have been one of the nation's top rebounding teams in the early going.

LSU also has reliable depth, primarily on the perimeter, with wings Shavon Coleman and Malik Morgan and freshman backup point guard Tim Quarterman. Morgan sustained an injury in the Tigers' game versus UNO and sat out the Southeastern tilt, but the sophomore is expected to make the trip to Orlando.

Jones likes to employ an up-tempo style, something that suits Hickey's skills at point guard perfectly. In 2012-13 Hickey, one-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky, finished third in the nation in steals per game. Through four games he's proven to be just as potent a thief, if not more, as a junior, giving the Bayou Bengals plenty of easy opportunities in transition. The big question for LSU, though, isn't how to score points but how to prevent them, as evidenced by the 92 points the Minutemen posted in the opener. The Tiger defense will be put to the test with the scoring talent on hand at the Old Spice Classic.

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