#1 Oklahoma (17-2) at LSU (13-7)
When: Saturday, January 30th 2016
Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, LA
Time: 5:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Two of the best players in College Basketball will meet tonight when Buddy Hield’s Oklahoma Sooners invade Baton Rouge to take on Ben Simmons and the LSU Tigers. Simmons is the front-runner to be the National Player of the Year as he leads his team in every meaningful offensive category. The freshman sensation is averaging 19.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, while shooting 55.3% from the floor. Simmons has been in a slump from the foul line, however, going five straight games without making more than two-thirds of his attempts. LSU suffered five losses before conference play started, but they’ve picked it up with a 6-2 start in SEC play including wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Simmons failed to record an assist for the first time this season, but brought down 14 rebounds in LSU’s 89-85 win over Georgia on Tuesday. Guard Tim Quarterman (11.6 points) scored 22 points and went the foul line 19 times, knocking down 13 of them. Keith Horsnby is hitting 43.6% of his three-point attempts and is the only Tiger over 36% as LSU is 262nd in the country in 3-point percentage (32.5). This will be the second top-10 opponent the Tigers have faced at home this year (Kentucky).
Hield may be runner-up to Simmons for Player of the Year, but he is the best guard in the nation. He is second in the country in scoring (25.9) behind Howard’s James Daniel (27.9). Hield has scored below 17 points only once all season and has been particularly incredible from 3-point range all season, shooting 52.3% from behind the arc despite hoisting 151 of them. He has hit at least four 3-pointers in each of his last seven games as well. The Sooners are the best three-point shooting team in the country led by Hield, Jordan Woodard (54.4), and Isaiah Cousins (44.9), who has hit 9 of his last 12 over his last three games. Woodward has 16 assists to only three turnovers in his last three games. Oklahoma is coming off back-to-back wins after suffering only their second loss of the season at Iowa State on January 18th. Hield led the way with 30 points as the Sooners held Texas Tech to just 32.4% shooting in a 91-67 route on Tuesday. The Sooners are tied for first in the Big 12 at 6-2 with both West Virginia and Baylor.
Oklahoma is the better team, but LSU plays very well at home and Simmons should be pumped for this contest against the top-ranked team in the nation. I’ll take the points with LSU and say they keep it close.
Pick: LSU +5