Men's Hoops vs. Texas State

LSU men’s basketball senior forward Darius Days (4) smiles Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, during LSU’s 84-59 win against Texas State in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on North Stadium Drive in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU men's basketball (2-0) will face off against the Liberty Flames Monday evening in what should be the Tigers’ toughest challenge of a five-game home stretch to start the season. Liberty (1-0) made the tournament last season as a 13-seed after winning the Atlantic Sun. 

They finished the regular season with just five losses, three of which came against solid Power Five teams in Purdue, Missouri and TCU. They also had promising victories at the beginning of the season against Mississippi State and South Carolina. 

Those might be subpar SEC teams at best, with South Carolina being particularly bad last season, but it’s still impressive considering Liberty’s conference and the fact that each of those victories were by double digits.  

Liberty was an upset favorite is last season’s NCAA tournament, and they proved themselves worthy of that recognition, losing to a Cade Cunningham-led Oklahoma State team by just nine points (it was a lot closer than that score indicates). 

They slowed down the eventual first overall pick tremendously, holding Cunningham to a rancid 3-of-14 shooting performance and a meager (by his standards) 15 points. However, he did manage to have a late surge late in the second half that would ultimately give the Cowboys the breathing room they needed. 

Still, this team was impressive and could absolutely upset LSU if the Tigers aren’t careful. They have been consistently good since the 2018-19 season, where they actually managed to pull off an NCAA Tournament upset against the fifth-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs. 

I doubt they will lose that consistency, even with the team having multiple guards graduate after last season. The credit for said consistency has to go to their head coach, Ritchie McKay, who has built this team from subpar to a team that’s won three straight conference titles.  

LSU’s first two performances have been promising, with their only problem being a slow start against Texas State, but this will be the closest thing they’ve had to a challenge so far. To take control of this game, they will need to prevent the Flames from getting too many open threes and contain their star scorer Darius McGhee.  

All in all, LSU does still have a hefty advantage over this team in terms of talent and should be able to take care of business as long as they don’t underestimate this team. Darius Days has averaged 23.5 points over the past two games on incredible shooting splits of 69.2% from the field and 73.3% from three. 

Those absurd efficiency numbers likely won’t continue, but he should still be able to help LSU keep pace with Liberty’s great three-point shooting.  

LSU also should have a large advantage in the rebounding department. Efton Reid has already shown flashes of the impact he could have in that department, and Liberty was a very below-average rebounding team last season (284th in the country in total rebounds per game).  

The Tigers have shown a lot of potential in their first two games of the season, and it will be interesting to see what this team can do against a slight jump in competition.

Load comments