LSU has already accomplished its first postseason goal but Will Wade and the Tigers have their sights set on setting themselves up in as great a position as possible. A win Saturday over Missouri would cement the purple and gold as the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament.
But first LSU must find a way to finish the regular season on a high note with a strong showing against a Missouri team with plenty of size and plenty of talent. For most of the season, Missouri has been considered a top 25 team, notching wins over Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama and most recently, Florida.
Wade is concerned about a number of factors before the Tigers travel to Columbia for Saturday's matchup but No. 1 is the size and length that have allowed Missouri to be one of the better teams when it comes to scoring in the paint.
"Just really worried about their physicality, their ability to bludgeon us down low, draw fouls and their ability to really whip us at the free throw line," Wade said. "Need to get the game going, get the pace going. Hopefully we can stay out of situations where they're just leaning on us in the half court."
Missouri is among the top five teams in the SEC in terms of field goal percentage because of how efficient the program is when it gets inside the paint. Mizzou doesn't necessarily always play with a fast pace because of the inside out nature of its offense and according to Wade, often make an opposing team pay off its mistakes.
"Taking advantage of your rough offense, that's really a result of how good they are defensively and turning those into points so we can't give them anything easy from our offense," Wade said. "They don't need a lot of help. They've just got a good, veteran team that's really, really well coach."
LSU wants to be in a great a position when the SEC tournament rolls around but that doesn't necessarily mean that being the No. 3 seed over the No. 4 seed would be a better position for the Tigers. Every team, particularly when it comes to conference play, has preferrable matchups.
Wade knows the teams that LSU does and doesn't stack up well against because of the strengths and weaknesses of his team. For example, one poor matchup for LSU has been Alabama because of the way it shoots and gets out in transition off of missed shots, an area the Tigers have struggled mightily with this season.
"I call it like I see it. There’s certainly some teams now on the flip side that you can go back through some records, we’re a terrible matchup for some teams," Wade said. "You can look at some teams and just go, ‘We got a good shot in this one.’ It’s not like if we see a bad matchup, we’re just going to go, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re just going to pack our bags and go home.’ But, there’s a lot more difficulty, a lot more things to work around when you’ve got that bad matchup.
"There’s two or three things that really, really bother us that, quite frankly, we just have a very difficult time stopping even if we game plan for it. There’s three teams in the league that can really do that and we would certainly prefer to avoid those teams in the league tournament and we would prefer to avoid teams like that in the NCC tournament."