LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tiger Basketball Hosts Grambling Saturday at 4 p.m.

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers will be looking to break one streak and keep another alive when they return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against the Grambling State University Tigers.

LSU (5-2) will be looking to stop a two-game losing streak overall, but wanting to keep alive a home-court winning streak that has reached 11 games dating back to last year.

Grambling (3-3), the defending regular season champions in the SWAC, comes in off splitting two games in the Fort Myers Tip-Off Classic (Nov. 23-24) at Niagara (W, 74-68) and versus IUPUI (L, 80-69).

LSU fans will be able to help area food banks by bringing canned goods or non-perishable items which can be exchanged for a $1 ticket for the game. There will also be a postgame free throws for kids ages 12 and under. LSU Students are admitted to the game free of charge. The ticket office at the upper level of the Maravich Center will open at 2:30 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and streaming video will be available on the SEC Network +.

The Tigers have been away from the Maravich Center at the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando with LSU defeating Charleston in the opening round, 67-55 before falling to Florida State, 79-76, in overtime in the semifinals and 90-77 to Oklahoma State in the third place game.

Against Florida State, the Tigers held a nine-point advantage with three minutes to play, but FSU was able to force an overtime that saw the Seminoles make the game-winning thee with 0.5 seconds to play. Against Oklahoma State, the Tigers gave up identical 15-2 runs at the start of both halves that hurt the Tigers chances.

Skylar Mays had a good tournament, scoring 19 against Florida State and 20 against Oklahoma State as he averaged 17 points in the three games, shooting 19-of-27 overall with 10 three-pointers. Tremont Waters averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 assists in the Invitational and Ja'vonte Smart averaged 8.7 points and 4.0 assists in the Orlando tournament.

Grambling is led by Dallas Polk-Hilliard who is averaging 14.2 points per game and shooting 54 percent from the floor to go with 7.5 rebounds a game and Ivy Smith, who is averaging 10.5 points a game and 5.5 assists a contest.

Both teams are right about the same scoring average with Grambling averaging 81.5 points a game and giving up 73.3, while LSU is at 81.4 points a game and 74.4 for the opposition.

Coach Wade met with the media on Friday and here are some of his comments:

Opening statement…
“We needed a little bit of time off after the weekend in Orlando. Grambling (Saturday), picked to win the SWAC. They’re plus-seven on the year rebounding the ball, which is concerning with the way we have been rebounding. They shoot 40-percent from three. They’ll present some challenges to us from the three-point line. Hopefully we’ve made progress in those areas and shored those areas up this week, but we’ll see (Saturday).”

On what changes can be expected offensively …
“It wasn’t working. We’re going to get back to throwing the ball inside, playing how I like to play.”

On playing an in-state Louisiana school on Saturday in Grambling…
“Grambling is a little bit different than some of the other Louisiana school because they don’t have any of their starters from Louisiana. The closest one is Larry Johnson’s son (Lasani) from Dallas. They’ve got a transfer from Manhattan. They have a kid from Atlanta. They’ve got some junior college kids. They have a transfer from South Dakota State. The point guard, (Ivy) Smith’s from out west. Usually the Louisiana schools have a lot of kids from Louisiana. Their coaching staff, which they do a great job recruiting, has ties all over from where they’ve been. Every time I’m up in Northern-Louisiana recruiting I see them. They’re certainly looking for kids up there. I’m sure they’ll be excited to play. Saturday will be a year to the date that they beat Georgia Tech last year. They beat Georgia Tech at Georgia Tech. They’ll be confident and they’ll be excited.”

On having six days following the loss to Oklahoma State to be able to work on some things…
“We needed it. We needed a little bit of time to reset good, bad or indifferent after that tournament. It was a good time for us, but we need to play well (Saturday) and show that the time was well spent.”

On how Tremont Waters is adapting to playing against larger guards…
“He has to take it on head on. We’ve done a study this week on all of his turnovers. We know where his turnover come from and we know what we need to do to correct those. We have a lot of faith in Tremont. He’ll get them corrected.”

On what he like about Darius Days and Marlon Taylor
“What I like about Days is Days is one of our most efficient players. Rebounding per minute, points per minute. He’s a really good shooter. I know he hasn’t shot it as well from three, but he’s a very, very good three-point shooter. That will come with time. He understands what we’re doing. He’s able to process things quickly on the court. He’s young. He’s a freshman, but he has a lot of similar qualities that Skylar (Mays) has in terms of his cerebralness on the court, his understanding. They have a lot of similar qualities. That’s why he’s going to play a lot more.

“Taylor is just big and athletic. If we’re going to be the best team we can be in SEC play, we’re going to need big, athletic guys. It’s just tougher when you’re smaller out there. We’ve got to commit to developing him. He’s got a lot of potential; he just hasn’t been playing that long. He was out for the two scrimmages with the finger injury. That really set him back some. We’ve got to commit to playing him over these next couple weeks and just seeing what he can do. I’m going to live with a lot more of his mistakes, hopefully he doesn’t make a ton of them, and see what he can do in extended time. We need to get him as close to his potential as we can get him. To have a big, athletic wing who can make shots. We want to make a recommitment to offensive rebounding which is something he does really well. To have somebody that can do that is very, very beneficial to us so we need to get him going. He’s got a lot of stuff that can help us win as we move forward throughout the season.”

On the three-point shot selections of Tremont Waters
“Some of them. He knows which one he needs to take. We have to cut some out to get his shooting percentages where we want them to be. Tremont’s going to be fine. He’s going to shoot it better. He’s going to play well and he’ll be fine. I like how he works. I like how he goes about his business and when you do that, things turn for you. Nobody’s harder on themselves than Tremont is. He’ll be prepared.”

On if the extended time off after the tournament will allow the team to play more energetic…
“We’ll see. We haven’t just been sitting around singing kumbaya all week. We’re going to come there and just magically play well. We’ll see. Sometimes there’s an advantage to playing three games in four days and moving quickly one after another. Sometimes there’s a disadvantage for being off for a while. Typically, we’re much better when we have time to prepare and have time to get ready for somebody. Hopefully that will be the case. There’s no guarantee on things.”

On what freshman forward Naz Reid needs to do …
“We’re going to play inside out and that’s going to help us. We’re going to throw that thing in the paint. When our big guys’ shoulder gets tired from jump-hooking it in, then we’ll throw it out. Throw the thing in the paint and we’ll score it close to the basket. Naz is one of our best low-post players and he’s going to get the ball down there and he’s going to go to work just like those other guys. If they double him, we’ll kick it out and we’ll have 10 toes to the rim, forced threes, and we’re going to be able to hit those. We shoot 44-percent on uncontested threes and we shoot 18-percent on contested threes. The problem is we’ve taken one more uncontested three than we’ve taken contested threes. We’re about 50-50 on what we’ve been taking and that’s why our percentage is so low. By playing inside-out, not only does it benefit the post which will allow them to get down there and eat because they’ve been running the court hard and doing what they need to do. It will benefit them, but it will also benefit our guards because it will keep them from taking the 18-percent shots and get us taking more of the 44-percent shots.”

On what kind of shots, specifically perimeter, he wants to see his team taking…
“10 toes to the rim, you and the rim. Like the game H-O-R-S-E. We like those. We like horse shots. We don’t like the ones off the bounce. We don’t want the ones off the dribble. We don’t want the ones that are contested. We’ve been taking too many contested, too many off the bounce threes. We want the 10 toes to the rim, inside-out. If you can’t make that, then there’s not much more we can do. We want those.”

On if the post players have a special strategy in the paint like Duop Reath had
“They can all do that, we just have not thrown it into there to show it. The one thing Duop was really good at was that he could carve out position and he had really good foot work and understanding of the angles and things like that to get open. He made getting open easier than it really looks, but we are going to get our guys open.”

On if the posts need to position themselves better…
“They have been positioned for seven games, we just have not thrown it to them. They have been fairly well positioned, now we changed our secondary break. We changed two or three things this week to make sure we could give them more space and almost make it more obvious that the guy is open and to just throw it in there. We wanted to make sure we could make it even more obvious with our spacing, but we are going to get the ball in there and it is going to be beneficial to everyone. We are going to shoot a higher percentage and we are going to get better looks from three, our guards are now going to be attacking closeouts and not have to attack set defenses, so everybody wins when you play inside out. I have played with three five men before and just gone in there and mashed people. There are plenty of ways to play, so we will get back to that and it will help everybody. It will help our guards, it will help free things up and we are going to push it hard in transition and get it in and throw it to the posts. That is what I told the guards, ‘If you want to score and you want to dribble, you have six to eight seconds and then after that, I take over and we are going to throw the thing inside.’”

On what causes struggles with rebounding in some games…
“It is a lot of different things, but the number one factor is to be a good rebounding team, you have to stay out of rotation defensively. So, what happened in the Florida State game was for the first 30 minutes we were able to stay between Florida State and the basket like Villanova did in the championship game. What happens is, when you have to start rotating, you get put in rotational rebound situations where you have guards blocking out bigs, you just get all messed up and so that last ten minutes and overtime, we were going all over the place, so when you have to rotationally rebound, you are going to miss guys and looks like ‘oh my gosh the guy just went in there and tipped it,’ well you have two guys and they can’t figure out which one to take. It is tough, it is like a busted coverage in football and they just throw it over the top, so it is tough. The number one thing we can do to help, we have good rebounders, we have good size, the only thing we can do to help our rebounding is to stay out of rotation defensively. If we just stay in front of our guy and guard him well, then we can hit him and go find the ball and go grab the ball off the backboard. So, the number one thing we can do to help our rebounding is to not put ourselves in rotational situations. That will help our defense and it helps our rebounding, so that is the number one issue with our rebounding.

“Oklahoma State was much more physical than Florida State. Oklahoma State was knocking us all over the place with their hips, they did a great job. It was impressive, I showed our guys this is what we should be doing, but they just did not miss enough shots to go offensive rebound. If you can stay out of rotation, that helps your rebounding more than anything else. The best rebounding teams are the ones that do not get in rotation and then it is just a matter of want too and can you go get the ball. So we have that part of it, we just have to not get all helter skelter and get out of place and out of sorts with our half-court defense.”

On if touches in the paint will be counted…
“We count that every game. We will pay special attention (Saturday) to our paint touches, special attention will be paid to that.”

On percentage of getting the ball inside…
“Not high enough. Our offensive efficiency when the ball touches the post or when we get a paint touch versus when we do not get a paint touch is almost a half a point a possession, which does not sound like a lot, but it is more than rounding error, let’s put it that way. It is a problem, so we have to get a ball reversal and a paint touch. If we can get ball reversals and paint touches, we will be in good shape. We are a really good offensive team when we get a ball reversal and a paint touch, so our new break and our new offense is going to help us get a ball reversal and a paint touch more often than we have been getting them.”

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