Saturday’s overtime victory against Arkansas felt like a shot in the arm that Missouri needed.

It was the Rally For Rhyan game, and the Tigers had more of a sense of urgency to make everything matter than we’ve seen in any other game this season.

Now, as Missouri heads back on the road, where it has yet to win a Southeastern Conference game, we’ll see if that momentum continues.

The Tigers face co-conference leading No. 25 LSU, which after a perfect start through eight games in league action, lost both of its games last week to Vanderbilt and Auburn.

Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said at Monday’s media availability that Jeremiah Tilmon is again “week-to-week” with the same stress fracture that has caused him to miss seven SEC games so far this season.

Tiger guard Mark Smith is again a “game-time decision” but should he play, he’s not expected to take on a large role.

Tuesday’s tipoff against Baton Rouge’s Tigers is set for 8 p.m. on the SEC Network and will be radio broadcast on KTGR (105.1 FM).

Here’s a closer look at the MU vs. LSU matchup. Below are projected lineups, players to watch, keys to the game and a score prediction.

Projected Missouri starters: Dru Smith, Xavier Pinson, Kobe Brown, Javon Pickett, Reed Nikko

Projected LSU starters: Darius Days, Emmitt Williams, Trendon Watford, Skylar Mays, Javonte Smart

Missouri player to watch

With Tilmon going back on the bench indefinitely, Reed Nikko will continue to be an integral player for the Tigers.

Nikko had arguably his best performance of his Missouri career against Arkansas, with his first-career double-double. The senior notched 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with about five minutes left in regulation.

Teams defend Nikko and attack him differently on offense than they would Tilmon, and the Maple Grove, Minnesota native is starting to figure out how to take advantage of those differences.

If opponents don’t respect Nikko, he can beat them on boards by doing more than just scoring and rebounding. Even when Tilmon was healthy, Nikko was considered one of the team's best low-post defenders.

Should MU pull an upset from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Nikko will have to be at the forefront of it.

LSU player to watch

Coming off a 30-point effort against Auburn, Skylar Mays will look to duplicate those efforts against Missouri.

Mays is averaging 15.9 points per game this season and is one of the most talented scorers in the SEC.

MU has already seen Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Arkansas’ Mason Jones and Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans, who are all dominant players who can play anywhere on the court.

Mays belongs in that group of game-changing players, even with LSU having one of the most harmonious starting lineups in the league.

Martin said Mays would be his pick for SEC Player of the Year at this point in the season because of his ability, poise and leadership.

Missouri’s key to the game

The Tigers have lost six straight road games and haven’t looked impressive in any of them.

There were moments against Kentucky and Alabama where Missouri looked consistently in-tune and results followed, but not enough to truly appear comfortable away from Columbia.

MU hasn’t won a true road game since Dec. 7, a two-month stretch that’s too long for any team hoping for long-term success.

All of that can change with 40 solid minutes against a recently vulnerable LSU squad. Winning on the road in the SEC will always be tough, but at times, MU has looked like two different teams. There’s one at home that can hang with (almost) any team. Then, there’s the Tigers on the road that are 1-7 this season away from the state of Missouri.

LSU’s key to the game

The Tigers scored 90 points in each of their last two losses. Those weren’t bad performances by any stretch, but many of LSU’s conference games this season have been close.

If things get tight again against MU, it’s important that LSU maintains its composure and doesn’t drop its standards.

Vanderbilt made the Tigers pay for playing down, as did Auburn. Missouri has that potential as well.

Missouri can’t keep up with LSU offensively, so if the game turns into a track meet, it’s a benefit to the Tigers that can call Joe Burrow a famous export.

Final score prediction

LSU 82, Missouri 68

eblum@columbiatribune.com