Tigers Host Kentucky Wednesday to Open SEC Play
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers begin Southeastern Conference play Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when No. 17 Kentucky comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
The game will be televised by the SEC Network (Tom Hart, John Sundvold) with the game broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (Chris Blair, John Brady) affiliates led by Eagle 98.1 in Baton Rouge.
Tickets for the game remain available at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office which will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and at LSUtix.net. The tickets will go on sale at the Maravich Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night at the upper concourse ticket windows.
The game is the traditional “Gold Game” for the first SEC contest and the halftime will be filled with the music of the band “Parish-County Line.”
LSU is 9-3 on the season, wrapping up its non-conference play with a 71-61 win last Thursday at Memphis, its first true road win since the opening conference game of the 2016-17 season. Tremont Waters had 18 points and eight assists in the game, while Skylar Mays had 14 points and four assists and Brandon Sampson 12.
Sampson was in his second game back from his sprained ankle at the start of the fourth game of the year. He played 25 minutes.
Kentucky is 11-2 overall and 1-0 in the SEC after opening league play Sunday at home against Georgia with a victory. In fact, despite a dominating win over Louisville on Friday and the opening league win over Kentucky, the Wildcats actually dropped from 16 to 17 in the AP poll.
LSU will be on the road for the two games following Wednesday night, traveling to nationally-ranked Texas A&M Saturday and then to Arkansas (Jan. 10), before returning home on Jan. 13 to face Alabama.
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Coach Wade spoke with the media and took a few questions after his Tipoff Luncheon on Tuesday and here are some of those comments:
On Tremont Waters shooting deep three-pointers…
“I tell him (Waters) all the time, ‘If you shoot them, you better make them.’ Tremont is as good of a contested shooter as there is in the country, and the numbers bear that out. He makes almost 40 percent of his contested shots. It’s part of the deal, you’ve got to live with it when you’ve got a great player like that, somebody who can score and make plays. He’s made those and, like I said, if you shoot them you better make those.”
On Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s ability to build around a new group of players every year…
“It’s amazing what he does. To get a new group of players like that every year to play that hard and play as one defensively like he gets them to do, it’s just phenomenal. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for how good of a coach he is. To get those guys to play that hard defensively and to put those guys in the position he puts them in to make them look good and play to their strengths, it’s extremely impressive.”
On making adjustments defensively over the past three games…
“I think we’ve gotten a little bit better, it just takes time. We’ve just stuck with what we’re doing and we’ve made incremental progress. What was good enough for those games isn’t going to be good enough moving forward.”
On preparing his team emotionally for Kentucky…
“The bigger the game, the narrower the focus. You just have to hone in on doing what you’re supposed to do. Everyone on our team has a role and I told them to read their role card. All we need you to do is do your job. Do it completely and stick with our plan. All the mundane stuff wins these type of games or puts you in a position to win these games. We need strict adherence to our scouting report, strict adherence to whatever we’re doing. We need to do that really well for 40 minutes. This is the type of team where, if you let up for two or three minutes, it’s over. They’ll go on a 12-0 run and you’re done, you might as well go home. It takes 40 complete minutes of strict adherence to what you’re doing and great discipline to do all the little things.”
On his players not trying to match Kentucky…
“We can’t match them acrobatic play for acrobatic play. We’re not going to, they’ve got world-class athletes and world-class length. We’ve just got to do all the simple things. You can make simple plays, you can make easy plays, and if you do those it’s still two points at the end of the day whether you lob-dunk it or whether you pivot two times or lay it in off the backboard. It’s still two points. We just have to do all those simple things and finish plays around their length at the rim.”
On enforcing his team’s grittiness…
“It’s got to be a daily mentality. You can’t just show up tomorrow night and decide to be tough. You’ve got to do it daily. I say it all the time, how you prepare and the habits you form when you prepare, that’s how you execute on game day. You have to have those habits; it’s got to be second nature to you. I think we’re developing that a little better right now.”