The LSU Tigers are set to square off with the Ole Miss Rebels in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Nashville on Friday.
How they got there
The Tigers (16-8, 11-6) entered the tournament as the third seed. They took down the Missouri Tigers 86-80 in their final regular-season game and were led by Cameron Thomas. The freshman phenom dropped 29 points, making it his 10th straight game with more than 21. LSU had a double-bye as one of the top four seeds in the tournament, meaning this will be the squad’s first game of postseason play.
Ole Miss (16-10, 10-8), meanwhile, started tournament play as the sixth seed. The Rebels blew by the South Carolina Gamecocks in their opening game 76-59. The Rebels have won eight of their 10 games and are headed by guard Devontae Shuler. The senior averages a team-leading 15.6 points per game and 3.3 assists per game.
What to expect
The quarterfinal matchup will be a battle of strength on strength. LSU’s strength lies in its offense. The explosive Tiger attack averages 82.7 points per game, good for second in the conference behind Arkansas. As previously alluded to, Thomas makes the offense run. The guard leads the SEC in points per game with 23.1 on 41.6% shooting.
Cam Thomas is one of the most fun players in the country. He’s dropped 20+ in 10 straight games. @24_camthomas @LSUBasketball (via @SECNetwork) pic.twitter.com/4hQejNeqyQ
— SLAM University (@slam_university) March 6, 2021
Thomas isn’t alone out there, though. Guard Ja’Vonte Smart is fourth in the conference with 3.9 assists per game and fifth in shooting percentage, knocking down 48% of his shots. Forwards Darius Days and Trendon Watford are menaces on the boards, averaging 7.5 and 7.4 rebounds per game, respectively. Both figures crack the top five in the SEC. As a team, LSU shoots 46.9% from the floor, second to only the Florida Gators in the conference.
The Rebels built this season off of their defensive success. They average just 69 points per game, second least in the conference. However, Ole Miss has allowed more than 70 points just five times all season and gave up 80+ once. The team is coming off one of its top defensive performances of the season on Thursday against South Carolina. The Rebels smothered the Cocks, allowing a shooting percentage of just 35% and blocking a season-high seven shots.
Season-high 7⃣ team blocks pic.twitter.com/eug6yR2qkk
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) March 12, 2021
Time and Place
The two teams expect to tip-off at 9 p.m. eastern time from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network.