Busting Brackets

LSU Basketball: Tigers receive encouraging injury update on Xavier Pinson

Dec 29, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; LSU Tigers guard Xavier Pinson (1) takes a shot over Auburn Tigers guard Allen Flanigan (22) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; LSU Tigers guard Xavier Pinson (1) takes a shot over Auburn Tigers guard Allen Flanigan (22) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports /

Xavier Pinson has been an important piece of LSU Basketball so far this season. But could he be out for an extended period of time?

With a little under four minutes to play in Saturday’s top 25 showdown between Tennesse and LSU Basketball at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Xavier Pinson went down with what appeared to be a significant knee injury. After Tari Eason swatted Kennedy Chandler’s layup attempt and snagged a defensive rebound once Uros Plavsic failed to clean up Chandler’s miss, Pinson proceeded to fill the left lane and beat most of the Volunteers down the floor.

However, disaster struck when Pinson caught Eason’s pass and accelerated to his left before losing his balance and hitting the deck awkwardly. The 6’2″ senior guard immediately grabbed his right knee and rolled around on the floor in agony, which didn’t make the fans, players, and coaches inside the PMAC feel any better about what they had just witnessed.

The Tigers were able to hold off the Volunteers in the end and secure a crucial 79-67 conference victory in front of their home fans, but how much can you really celebrate when you’re aware that your starting point guard may have just suffered a season-ending injury? Well, it turns out that things aren’t as bad as they looked, which is what Will Wade confirmed on Monday after finding out that Pinson has an MCL strain and could return to action sooner than many think. According to Sheldon Mickles, who is a staff writer at The Advocate, Wade stated that “It was the best-case scenario” when discussing Pinson’s MRI results.

Not only has Pinson demonstrated that he can be a scoring threat in a brand-new offensive system (he’s averaging 10.9 points), he’s also made positive strides as a passer this season, as he is currently dishing out 4.7 assists per contest (he never averaged more than 2.9 at Missouri). However, when I wrote about Pinson in the offseason, I pointed out that while there is no doubt that the Chicago, Illinois native is a skilled offensive player, he does have a tendency to make poor decisions in transition and surrender the ball from time to time.

As of right now, it seems that Pinson is still having some problems in that department (he’s averaging 3.0 turnovers per game), but overall, there is a lot to like about the way Pinson has performed in the first 15 games of the 2021-22 season. LSU ranks in the top 80 in points scored (76.9-78th in the country) and allowed per game (56.4-5th in the country), which wouldn’t be the case if Pinson was a non-factor on both ends of the floor.

Yes, we all know that Pinson can be reckless at times, but there’s no denying that he’s a lethal two-way player when he’s able to suffocate his opponents on the perimeter/pick off telegraphed passes and make reads that’ll result in successful offensive possessions when the Tigers are on the run.

Pinson likes the play the game of basketball at a fast pace, and sometimes that style of play causes defenses to scramble and either overcommit to Pinson (allowing him to find open teammates) or mistakenly open up opportunities for the 4th year guard to finish explosive layups/dunks at the rim.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Eric Gaines and believe that he’s taken an impressive step forward as a sophomore in Baton Rouge, but Pinson is a guy that the Tigers desperately need if they want to achieve their goals this year.

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The Tigers have upcoming games against Florida (Wednesday) and Arkansas (Saturday), but I doubt that Pinson will be available for those two SEC contests, which means that there is a strong possibility that Gaines will have to step up and run the show in Pinson’s absence. So yes, it’s likely that Pinson will miss the Tigers’ next few games, but at least we don’t have to speculate whether his long-term future with the team is in jeopardy.