BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball teams goes for its seventh straight win Thursday night against the Grambling State Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in a game scheduled for an early tip time of 6 p.m.
The game will be regionally televised by Cox Sports TV and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger). The audio (and video outside the CST viewing area) will be available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Tickets will be on sale online at www.LSUtix.net and beginning at 1-4:30 p.m. at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office. Tickets go on sale at the upper concourse ticket windows at the Maravich Center beginning at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for youth (ages 3-12).
LSU is 9-3, starting its present win streak on Nov. 29 at Houston and continuing through Dec. 22, the Tigers last game at North Texas. Included in that streak is a win at home on Dec. 19 against No. 10 and previously undefeated Marquette. It is the longest win streak since LSU won 10 straight during the 2009 season.
The Tigers have also held the last six opponents under 60 points, the first time that has happened since LSU held seven consecutive opponents under 60 points in the 1953 season.
Grambling is 0-9 on the season and is coming off an 85-53 loss at TCU. This will be the fifth consecutive road game for the Tigers and the ninth of 10 to open the season. Quincy Roberts, in his first game for Grambling against TCU, had 28 points and 10 rebounds as the 6-5 junior from Harrisburg, Pa., made 10-of-26 field goals and 4-of-10 three-point field goals. Xavier Roberts, who averages 9.1 for the Tigers, added 11 points.
LSU is expected to play its fifth game without starting off guard Andre Stringer, who fainted during a practice prior to the Dec. 10 Boise State game. Stringer has been cleared to return to practice when the team resumed practice after Christmas on Dec. 26, but has not yet been cleared to return to game action.
LSU should go with freshman point guard Anthony Hickey (9.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.0 apg), who leads the SEC in steals at 2.5 a game, and this past week's Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, Ralston Turner. The sophomore from Muscle Shoals, Ala., has 22 points in the win over Marquette and was the first LSU player chosen by the league as POW since March 2009. Turner comes into the Grambling game averaging 10.7 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game.
At forwards will be Eddie Ludwig who has filled in for Stringer, and Johnny O'Bryant III (8.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg), who had his first college double double in the North Texas win on Dec. 22. Justin Hamilton is the center, averaging 11.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
LSU's post players were all in double figures in the 67-58 win at North Texas as Storm Warren, who needs one rebound to become the 37th player in LSU history to record 500 career rebounds, led LSU with 15 points, while Hamilton had 14, Malcolm White 12 and O'Bryant 11. The post players had 77 percent of LSU's points and 59 percent of the rebounds.
The Tigers were again dominant on the offensive boards, out rebounding North Texas, 10-1, in the second half with 16 for the game. LSU leads the SEC in offensive rebounds at 14.9 a game and Hamilton is second in the league at 3.6 a game.
Following Thursday's game, the Tigers have one non-conference game left on Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. against Virginia at the Maravich Center before opening league play on Jan.7 against Ole Miss.
Coach Trent Johnson met with the media on Wednesday prior to the Grambling game and here are some of his comments:
Opening statement ...
"The guys got back on the 26th ... They've been really good in terms of being focused, I hate to use the word focused, but in being ready to go. There was a level of excitement, and I think they were ready to be back. Primarily what we've been doing is trying to get better in all phases of our game. We've become more efficient offensively and have sustained a level of intensity defensively and try to eliminate our breakdowns in that regard. Then, we need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Grambling is a much better basketball team than their record shows. Their last game out, they had two players that have been ineligible that were eligible versus TCU. So, for us, it's the same old story. We need to defend at a high level, and we need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. The guys to a man are understanding that we have way, way too many unforced turnovers, and if we don't eliminate that, that is going to cost us here sooner or later."
On Andre Stringer return to practice, any differences, players excited he's back ...
"It's been pretty much the same. Ralston (Turner) didn't practice (Tuesday), he had a little sickness, virus, whatever; Justin and Storm are still nursing a little ankle ... I think to a man they are excited that (Stringer) is back, because they know how important it is to Andre to play and help this basketball team, but we have a long way to go before he'll be on the floor. He's doing some light shooting. He hasn't done anything 5-on-5 or anything like that. It's just a day-by-day process."
Recapping North Texas Win ...
"We've been the same going back about four or five games in terms of understanding what needs to be done in order to put ourselves in a position to win games. I thought they did a really, really good job because as I said before to come on an emotional hard-fought victory versus a very good Marquette team, only having about a day and a half to prepare and travel, to not have a guy like Andre (Stringer), and Justin who we had to hold out of practice for two days because of his ankle ... to be banged up and bruised like that, it showed some real maturity and some progress in terms of us becoming better. Obviously North Texas was ready to go. That's the biggest game of the year for them. That was a good win for us."
On Storm Warren's improvements ...
"When Storm (Warren) first got here, I think he shot 45 percent at the free throw line, and nobody would guard him from a 15-foot range. But those are the two facets of his game that he has made himself a pretty good basketball player ... Now he's pretty much a guy you have go to guard. At this point and time last year, Storm had 29 turnovers. This year he has 11. Those things speak volumes to his improvement. That's just him being the kind of man he is by coming in and working on that. He understands that coaches tell him things for a reason, so I need to go out and work on it. A lot of guys listen, but don't want to put the work in. And he's puts the work in."
On Grambling State ...
"They've been very good for a half; very, very good for a half. They're probably going to play a lot of zone. They have the ability to play fast, and they have the ability to play quick. Like in these scenarios, they've been on the road forever and the thing that impresses me about them, contrary to what people might think, you look at those lopsided scores, but they didn't stop playing, and they are continuing to play hard. I've been in those situations and I know how hard it is when you may be physically overmatched. It speaks volumes to the coach being able to continue to keep his team playing hard and not quit ... They're probably going to run a lot of zone on us, and they're going to do whatever they have to do to keep themselves in the game and put themselves in a situation where they can have some success. We got continue to defend, rebound and take care of the basketball."