Fresh off a very impressive road performance against Iowa State, Tennessee returns home to take on the LSU Tigers on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols climbed up to No. 18 in this week’s AP Poll. They’ve got a chance to climb even higher with a somewhat light week in SEC play.
Here’s what you need to know tonight.
Mayan Kirr and Galen Alexander have been suspended for the remainder of the season while Wayde Sims and Brandon Rachal are suspended for tonight’s game only. LSU head coach Will Wade said that each player was involved in separate incidents, leading to their suspensions.
Galen Alexander has actually been dismissed from the team, Wade confirmed. The suspensions were reportedly in relation to the players appearing in a music video.
Sims and Rachal are the big losses for LSU tonight. Though neither player starts for LSU, each are key pieces off the bench for Wade. Sims is a 6-6 forward and the first big man off the bench for LSU.
So LSU will have nine players available tonight, just seven of which will be on scholarship. That’s a tough situation against a surging Tennessee group.
Suspensions aside, LSU is in the midst of a pedestrian season. The Tigers are 12-8 overall, just 3-5 in SEC play. They were picked to finish dead last in the SEC and currently sit 10th in the league standings.
The LSU backcourt is led by Tremont Waters, who averages over 15 points per game. The 5-11 freshman guard leads the team in assists and steals, too. He’s the engine that makes LSU go, so Tennessee will need a good effort on the defensive end from Lamonte Turner and James Daniel III.
LSU may not have much size depth, but they still have a legitimate big man in Duop Reath. At 6-11, 244 pounds, Reath presents a size issue for anyone LSU takes on. Reath is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 14.1 per contest. He pulls down six rebounds per game and averages 1.5 blocks per game.
Aaron Epps will be the only other player over 6-4 for the Tigers tonight.
Wade is going to have to manage those two carefully as he tries to keep them out of foul trouble. Small ball will be the name of the game tonight for the Tigers. Look for Waters, Epps, Skylar Mays and Daryl Edwards to turn to the long-range game to make up for their lack of size.
What do the rankings say?
Odds: Tennessee -10.5 (as of 9 AM)
Location: Knoxville, TN
Tip-off: 6:30 PM Eastern
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Vol Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN