BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team, which hasn’t played since the Dec. 1 third-place game in the Old Spice Classic, finally gets back to game action Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against ULM.
LSU (5-2) has been off for nearly two full weeks because of school concentrated study period and final exams (which for a couple of players will end earlier in the day on Saturday). This will be the first home game for LSU since a win over Southeastern on Nov. 22.
Tickets for the game are available at www.LSUtix.net and at the upper concourse ticket windows of the Maravich Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. LSU students are admitted with no admission charge with their LSU ID.
The game will be televised regionally on Cox Sports TV and the broadcast will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (including Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and WWL 870 AM in New Orleans) and in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
LSU will look to continue its strong play which saw it go 2-1 in the OSC, including an exciting 70-68 overtime win over Butler for third place in which junior Anthony Hickey hit a three-pointer with 4.4 seconds left to force the extra five minutes. LSU had four players average in double figures during the three games of the tournament and the team as a whole shot 51.1 percent from the floor.
In the tournament, Johnny O’Bryant III made 20-of-33 field goals, Jordan Mickey hit 17-of-27 attempts, Jarell Martin 12-of-22, Shavon Coleman 10-of-17 and Malik Morgan 9-of-17. Coleman and Morgan both came off the bench to get 12 points each to help the Tigers in the third place win. O’Bryant III averaged 14 points and 8.3 rebounds, while Mickey had a 12 point average and 7.3 boards. For the freshman Martin, who was injured in the season opener, it was his first extended minutes as he played 85 in the three games combined and averaged 11.3 points.
“I thought our guys did a tremendous job at the tournament in Orlando,” LSU Coach Johnny Jones said. “I thought it served a great purpose for us in the parameter in terms of where we are in this early part of the season. As a basketball coach, I was excited to have an opportunity to go into the venue that we went into and play against three challenging basketball teams. Having three games in four days was a good experience for our guys, and I thought overall they played really well, especially considering the circumstances. A new basketball team with a lot of new guys – we are asking to play certain roles, and I thought our guys did a great job. Even after a setback in the second game, I thought they did an excellent job coming back against a very good Butler basketball team. They had to concentrate and focus throughout against that team and make the necessary plays down the stretch to have an opportunity to win that basketball game.”
LSU is expected to use the lineup it has used for the last four games with Andre Stringer (13.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) and Hickey (10.6 ppg, 4.0 apg) at guards with O’Bryant III (16.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg), Martin (8.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and Jordan Mickey (13.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.7 bpg) at the forward positions.
“It’s been tough on this 14-day layoff for finals not playing – trying to make sure that we are able to get some practices in and really give guys adequate time being off to concentrate and focus on their studies at hand and to take care of their finals because they are student-athletes,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that they can maximize their time to be the best that they can during this week and preparation for their finals.”
ULM, under Baton Rouge native Keith Richard, is off to its best start in years at 3-1 after an 84-61 win over Thomas University. The Warhawks were led by Tylor Ongwae with 22 points, while Marvin Williams added 12. ULM shot 59.6 percent for the game and 45 percent from the arc. ULM made 18-of-20 first half free throws in opening up a 46-22 halftime advantage.
The Warhawks have wins over Samford, Northwestern State and Thomas, with a season-opening loss at Kansas, 80-63. Amos Olatayo leads the team, averaging 17.5 points per game with Ongwae at 12.8 and Williams at 12.3 points per game.
Richard, who had a long tenure at Louisiana Tech as head coach, served two seasons as an assistant at LSU under Trent Johnson before taking the head coaching job at ULM prior to the 2010-11 season.
“They are a quick basketball team and had a very good game against Kansas,” Jones said. “They’re a good passing basketball team, and they made some plays. Their guards made shots. They played against Northwestern (State) who we’ve played against as well. I think Northwestern (State) may have had them down 15 or 16 – they came back, got the game in overtime and wound up winning it. They’re a fast-paced, quick basketball team and rangy. (ULM Head Coach) Keith Richard has done a tremendous job of putting together and assembling this basketball team.”
The ULM game is the start of the final five non-conference games before Southeastern Conference play begins. LSU will play at home the next four Saturdays leading into a January 7 SEC date with Tennessee.