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Tennessee Volunteers vs. LSU Tigers Opponent Preview

Who will reign supreme in the SEC after Saturday?

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Tennessee
Can the Vols get back on track Saturday?
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Another Saturday, another big-time SEC matchup.

We all knew the back end of the Tennessee Volunteers’ was going to be tough. After losing on the road to the Kentucky Wildcats last week, they now travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers.

The Tigers, arguably the best team in the SEC, beat Kentucky last week. If the Vols lose this game and the Wildcats win, then there will be a three-way share of first place in the SEC.

Needless to say, this is a very important game for both teams.

Conference Record and Standings

  • Southeastern Conference
  • 21-5 (11-2)
  • 3rd SEC
  • Lost last game

Impact Players

  • G Tremont Waters: 15.7 PPG, 43.2 FG%, 79.1 FT%, 33.1 3PT%, 2.9 REB, 5.9 AST, 3.6 TO, 3.0 STL, 32.6 MIN

While Jordan Bone may be the best point guard in the SEC, Waters is not too far behind him. The talented guard can do it all. He can defend, he can score, he can distribute, he can hit from long distance - whatever you want him to do, it’s done.

The matchup between Waters and Bone will be another fun one to watch. While he isn’t as stout as Ashton Hagans on defense, Waters will make you pay with his quickness and vision on offense.

Controlling Waters will be key to Tennessee’s success on Saturday.

  • F Naz Reid: 13.8 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 75.0 FT%, 38.1 3PT%, 6.6 REB, 0.9 BLK, 0.8 AST, 2.7 TO, 25.5 MIN

First it was Reid Travis, now it’s Naz Reid.

Both players are pretty much carbon copies of each other. They are strong, physical post players that will absolutely crush you if they can. Reid is actually more of an offensive threat than Travis, which is scary when you think about it.

He will likely be matched up on Kyle Alexander, who has struggled as of late. Reid can also hit from long distance, so it will be interesting to see how the Vols defend him in that regard.

  • F Kavell Bigby-Williams: 7.8 PPG, 69.3 FG%, 61.6 FT%, 0.0 3PT%, 6.0 REB, 2.0 BLK, 0.9 AST, 0.8 TO, 20.1 MIN

Bigby-Williams is another big man that the Vols will need to control on Saturday. Even though he is in the bottom-five when it comes to minutes played, he is top-five in scoring on the team.

He excels in the low post and is the team’s authoritarian, leading the group with two blocks per game. The trio of these three players are a matchup nightmare for just about any team in the country.

Most Recent

LSU took a big step back in terms of the SEC regular season championship race with a 82-77 loss to the Florida Gators on Tuesday night.

Keyvaughn Allen led the charge, finishing with a team-high 21 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Just about all of Allen’s success came from beyond the arc, where he shot 5 of 9 overall. He also scored 12 of his 21 points in overtime.

Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 18 points, but Waters was shut down with just 10 points on a night where he shot just 3 of 12 overall. Reid finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to put away the Gators.

Waters had a chance to put the Tigers in the lead in overtime, but missed a three-point shot that eventually gave the Gators the win.

Game Outlook

This is going to be another battle for the Vols.

LSU excels on the boards, evidenced by the 37.8 rebounds that are collected per game. The Tigers also have the size down low to compete with Tennessee, just like Kentucky.

Reid is going to be a problem and so will Bigby-Williams. Kyle Alexander will be key for the Vols. He must step up in this game and become the post presence the Vols desperately need.

The matchup between Waters and Bone will be fun to watch. Waters can absolutely slash through a defense, whether it be through assists or shots, but hopefully the Vols can pick up on whatever Florida did to cancel him out of the last matchup.

If the Vols can show some physicality while staying out of foul trouble, then everything should be OK at the end of the day. The 12PM tip helps as well, but Tennessee can’t count on that to win the game.