Why elevation won’t be deciding factor in LSU’s NIT game at Utah
SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU, @bigahickey or by email to Alex at email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Monday, March 19
Once the hubbub died down over the aftermath of LSU’s first-round NIT win over Louisiana and the assorted postgame theatrics that followed, the focus turned to the second round.
The Tigers are in Utah to face the Utes on Monday night. Salt Lake City is located in the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, some 4,226 feet above sea level. Baton Rouge is a mere 56 feet above sea level. Thus, it’s only natural to wonder if the Tigers will be sucking wind as the Utes run to victory.
How much of a factor could elevation play in the outcome of LSU’s game at Utah?
It’s a question that Will Wade has carefully considered. Like seemingly every other aspect of the LSU program, he has a plan.
“It’s a factor. We were out there last year at VCU. It was a tremendous environment,” Wade said. “There’s certain things you’ve got to do. I’m a runner. I was running outside. You’re a little short of breath if you’re not used to it. But you’ve got to hydrate yourself. That’s one of the reasons [we went up to Utah] early. A lot of that stuff is as mental as it is physical.”
Scientifically speaking, Wade’s right. Altitude-related breathlessness isn’t supposed to be a factor until you hit 5,000 feet, though playing in a basketball game might lower the number needed for that to kick in. Regardless of that detail, LSU benefits from the new rules that split NIT games into four quarters rather than two halves.
“With the breaks you get and the long media timeouts, I don’t think it’s nearly as big of an issue,” Wade said.
The Utes also help make things easier with their pace of play.
According to KenPom.com, Utah ranks 318th nationally with an average length of 18.9 seconds per possession. The Utes are 299th overall in adjusted tempo. They still may beat LSU, but it won’t be because of running the ragged and wheezing Tigers off the floor.
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