GAME NOTES: Fresh off a triple-overtime victory, the LSU Tigers attempt to continue their winning ways on Wednesday night when they welcome the Arkansas Razorbacks to the Maravich Center for an SEC matchup.
Arkansas was one of the hottest teams in the SEC heading into Saturday's clash with first-place Florida, having won three in a row and five of its previous six, but it ran into a buzz saw as the Gators prevailed in a 71-54 final. The Razorbacks are still an impressive 17-10 this season (8-6 SEC), but only one of those triumphs has come on the road.
LSU fell victim to a late surge by Alabama in Saturday's bout at home, but three extra sessions later it ended up on the positive side of a 97-94 decision. It was the Tigers' third win in their last four games, improving them to 16-9 overall and 7-7 in conference.
LSU took two of three meetings from Arkansas during the 2011-12 campaign, including in the first round of the 2012 SEC Tournament (70-54), but the Razorbacks still lead the all-time series, 31-24.
The Razorbacks hung tough for one half against the mighty Gators the last time out, going into intermission down by four, but they quickly lost control and they were saddled with a 17-point loss. They struggled from the field, shooting just 36.2 percent, and the woes extended beyond the 3-point stripe (6-of-27) and to the free-throw line as well (6-of-15). Coty Clarke was fantastic in defeat, making all eight of his field goal attempts for 18 points, to go with seven rebounds and three blocks, while Anthlon Bell netted 14 points off the bench. For the season, Arkansas has one of the SEC's strongest offenses (74.7 ppg), and it also benefits from one of the nation's best turnover margins (+6.0). Pacing the squad are B.J. Young (15.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Marshawn Powell (14.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg), the two making up one of the most dynamic inside-outside duos in the league. Although no one else averages double figures, nine others net between 3.2 and 7.3 ppg.
The Tigers appeared well on their way to an easy victory last Saturday when they were up by 10 with less than three minutes to play, but Alabama went on an improbable 10-0 run to close out regulation and force overtime. After they were burned again with a game-tying 3-pointer from the Tide in the final 20 seconds of the second extra sessions, the Tigers finally prevailed in the third. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Johnny O'Bryant III, who logged his SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Charles Carmouche (20 points, 11 rebounds) also had a double-double, while Anthony Hickey stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals. Shavon Coleman (17 points, eight rebounds) and Andre Stringer (10 points) saw extensive time off the bench. LSU, which scores 71.7 ppg and allows 68.3 ppg to its opponents, is anchored by O'Bryant III (14.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg) in the trenches, who's scored 20-plus points in four of the past five games. Hickey nets 11.9 ppg and leads the nation in steals with 3.3 per contest. Coleman (10.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Stringer (10.6 ppg) and Carmouche (9.4 ppg) round out a balanced attack.
LSU is gaining momentum at the optimal time with the postseason right around the corner. Arkansas has been rather inept on the road, scoring fewer than 60 points in four of its last five away games, meaning the Tigers should be able to keep the momentum going in this one.
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