[title_box title=”Four keys for the Vols to upset LSU”]
Tennessee is starting to make some noise in the SEC tournament after dismantling Auburn two nights ago and scoring an emotional upset victory over Vanderbilt yesterday. Up next for the Vols are the LSU Tigers. In the only meeting between the two teams during the regular season, Tennessee took advantage of the seemingly disinterested Tigers, winning 81-65. But everything changes in March and the Vols should be prepared for another close bout with a worthy opponent. Here are four keys for Tennessee if they want to pull off another upset.
Containing Ben Simmons
Everyone knows that Ben Simmons is one of the best players in the country, but containing him is definitely the x-factor for the Vols in today’s match up. When LSU played Tennessee earlier in the season, Simmons got off to a slow start after coming off the bench due to academic trouble. The Vols’ game plan was to double team him whenever he got the ball in the post, which really affected him. Simmons still finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, but if Tennessee can continue its tournament-trend of controlling the paint, they should be able to hold Simmons in check.
Defending the perimeter
LSU shot only 33 percent from beyond the arc the last time they played the Vols, but with sharpshooters like Antonio Blakney and Tim Quarterman, the Tigers can get hot in a hurry. Tennessee did a great job defending the perimeter yesterday against Vanderbilt, who missed its first nine shots from deep, so fans should have confidence that the Vols can defend the three-point line.
Detrick Mostella has to show up again
Mostella has been a spark plug for Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. In two games, he has scored 35 combined points. His hustle and quickness completely change the tempo of the game and the Vols need him to have another big game if they want to advance. He had 10 points in Tennessee’s first bout with LSU earlier this year.
The teams with the most composure find the most success in March. The players who are locked in and ready to play are the ones who make noise, and the Vols have proven thus far that they are one of those teams. Dropping 97 points against Auburn was unexpected and definitely drew attention, but the emotional victory over Vanderbilt yesterday revealed to everyone that Tennessee is a focused group of guys unafraid of the challenges ahead. If the Vols can keep their composure after coming off of last night’s exhausting win, expect them to beat LSU today.
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Edited by David Bradford