No. 23 LSU Basketball Hosts UNCG Friday at 7 PM
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – The No. 23 (AP) LSU men’s basketball team after facing one conference champion from 2018 on Tuesday night faces another one Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
After defeating Southeastern, 94-63, in the season opener, the champions of the Southern Conference from UNCG as the challenges continue to ramp up in LSU’s early non-conference schedule.
The Spartans won 27 games a year ago and 52 over the last two seasons for Wes Miller in his eighth season as the head coach at UNCG. Last year’s team took Gonzaga to the wire before falling, 68-64, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a 4-13 matchup.
This will mark the first time the two teams have met in basketball but Coach Wade posted a 3-1 record in his four meetings during his two years as head coach at UT Chattanooga.
Tickets for the contest are available online at LSUtix.net and all day Friday at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office. Ticket sale at the Maravich Center will being at 5:30 p.m. at the upper level ticket windows. LSU Students are admitted free of charge for the game with valid student ID.
It should be noted that Tuesday’s opening night contest with Southeastern drew a five-figure paid crowd for the second straight year (10,513) with a student count of just short of 1,600 for the game.
The LSU-UNCG will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM the BR flagship) with Patrick Wright (sitting in for Chris Blair) and former LSU Basketball Coach John Brady on the call. The game will be video streamed on the SEC Network+ and on the ESPN App. Lyn Rollins and Victor Howell will be courtside.
LSU had six players in double figures in the Southeastern win, the first time LSU has done that since the 2011-12 season opener against Nicholls. In Tuesday’s game, Naz Reid led LSU with 17 points with Emmitt Williams getting a double double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Marlon Taylor off the bench had 15 points, while Darius Days and Skylar Mays had 11 points each and Ja'vonte Smart posted 10.
Freshmen Tiger players scored 50 of LSU’s 93 points in the game. LSU outscored Southeastern, 33-9, in the final 13:30 of the first half to go up 48-18 at the intermission and cruised to the win. LSU had just nine turnovers in the game, three in the second half. It was the 13th time in the Will Wade era that LSU had less than 10 turnovers with an 11-2 record.
UNCG comes in 1-0 after a 74-66 win Tuesday night at North Carolina A&T. The Spartans trailed by one after a half, but made 17-of-33 field goals in the second 20 minutes to get the win. Francis Alonzo led the team with 23 points, while Isaiah Miller added 16 and Kaleb Hunter 11. UNCG shot an even 50 percent (32-64) from the field, but 3-of-17 from the arc. The Spartans had a 42-32 rebound advantage and did a good job on the offensive boards with 19.
This is the second game of a four-game opening homestand for LSU before next week facing Memphis on Tuesday (Nov. 13) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 16).
Coach Wade met the media on Thursday afternoon regarding the UNCG game and here are some of his comments:
“Big game. (UNCG is) very, very good. They have two tremendous guards in (Demetrius) Troy and (Francis) Alonso. Their big kid, (James) Dickey, is phenomenal. Big time shot blocker. Elite level shot blocker. This is going to be a big test for us, a big step for us moving forward. They’re an elite offensive rebounding team. They were 35th in the country last year in offensive rebounding percentage. If we don’t get a little more physical and hit bodies and block out better than we did on Tuesday night, then we’re going to get bludgeoned on the glass. They had 19 offensive rebounds in their first game against North Carolina A&T who they beat on the road.
“This is a very, very good team. Very, very experienced team. I’ve known them for a long time. When I was at Chattanooga, we were in the same league as Greensboro. (Wes Miller) He’s done a phenomenal job building their program. To be one of the best, if not the best in the Southern Conference. They’re predicted to win the SoCon this year. They’ve got a very good team, and experienced team. They won at NC State last year. They’re not going to get rattled. They were down 15 at NC State and went on an 18-3 run to start the second half and take the lead. Never relinquished the lead. They gave Gonzaga all they could handle. They had the lead with 49 seconds left. Then with 40 seconds left they had the ball and a chance to retake the lead. This is a very experienced club. They’re not going to be rattled. They’re not going to beat themselves and we’re going to have to play extremely well and stay focused and sustain our discipline. Have strict adherence to what we’re doing for 40 minutes. Not for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes. It going to take 40 minutes of sustained effort against them.”
On being able to defend a shooter like Parker Edwards of Southeastern…
“We talked about it all summer. We missed a free throw and he got going on the transition shot where we didn’t match up and we worked on that. I showed tape this summer, the first team meeting, I showed tape about our special teams miscues and how we weren’t very good off of free throws offensively and defensively and sure enough that’s how he got going. I mean, give the kid credit. He did a great job. Coach Ladner ran great plays to keep getting good shots and when you let someone get in rhythm like that, it’s really, really hard. Alonso, their kid for Greensboro is certainly capable of doing something very, very similar.”
On UNCG’s ability to get offensive boards…
“Size. They’ve got a couple guards who really go hard to the offensive glass. That’s going to be a challenge for us blocking out a couple of their guards. They have a kid they play at point guard who goes hard to the offensive glass when they move Troy off the glass. They’ve got good size. Dickey’s a tremendous post player, tremendous shot blocker, 6-10, effects a lot of shots at the rim. He tip dunks and that sort of thing so we’ll have to do a good job on him. We come over and try to block a lot of shots and that leaves you exposed on the weak side. We have to be able to crack down on the weak side and have to do a better job there. Rebounding is going to be a huge challenge for us (Friday) night.”
On the player rotations on Tuesday night and the perimeter shooting…
“I liked our rotation with the five guards and four bigs. I thought the rotation was good for what it was in the game. We certainly need to play some guys some more minutes as we have some tougher games. This game Friday is going to be a full game. We’re going to have to execute down the stretch, make some scores and get some scores and do what we need to do. I think our perimeter shooting, we went back and looked at it, we weren’t ready to shoot a couple of times. We passed up some easier shots and took some tougher shots. We’re a very, very good shooting team. We’ve shot it well in practice. Our shooting numbers are very good. Our numbers in the main gym are really good. We obviously shot it well from the free throw line so I’m not overly concerned as long as we take really good shots. I think we missed some open looks that we would normally hit. Get back to me in two or three games. If that’s a trend then we probably have a little bit more of an issue, but I’m pretty confident in our shooting and the work we’ve put in all summer and fall.”
On the problems with rebounding on Tuesday night…
“Well we didn’t touch them a lot of the time. We just tried to run in and got too close to the rim and the balls careened off past us because we didn’t hit people. I was very adamant about what I thought about that in our edit yesterday. We showed a lot of those clips and we gave up a ton of offensive rebounds to Southeastern. They did a great job crashing the glass, but this is going to be a different animal. You’ve got 6-9, 6-10 kids that can do it as opposed to 6-5 and 6-6 guys. We’re going to have to hit bodies. We’ll have to be more physical. We’re going to have to go up there and grab the ball and create a rebounding arc and a rebounding area where we can go grab it.”
On what he tells the team about UNCG…
“We’ve talked about them. They are well aware of what a good program they have, what a good team they have. What good players they have. I started watching film on these guys a long time ago and we’ve put a lot of time into preparing for this game. This is a big game for us. They’re a very, very good team. They’re a veteran team and this is a game that we need to do everything we can to try and scratch and claw and try to find a way to win.”
On how minutes will increase…
“I think a lot of our guys’ minutes will increase. We had about 12-14 minutes that we can play with and distribute to some other guys. The way our team is built, you’ll see a lot of different leading scorers. You’ll see a team that there’s a lot of different guys whose minutes will fluctuate a little bit. I think everybody will play quite a bit, but whether you play 18 minutes or 24-26 minutes, will be indicative of the matchups and what we feel like we need to do to win that night.”
On if there will be an extra level of comfort for the new guys after having played one game already…
“I thought our crowd was great. I though our students were great. It was a phenomenal atmosphere. We appreciate everybody staying around afterward to help us honor Wayde (Sims) and be there for Wayne and Fay as well. Hopefully we’ll have a great crowd again (Friday). I know we have playoff football with high school and some other things like that going on. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd. Hopefully the people who came enjoyed what they saw and want to come back. I think it is good to have a game under our belt to have been in the main arena. We don’t practice in the main arena much. I’m actually going to do down there and shoot (Thursday) during practice. We haven’t done that a whole lot, so we’re going to do that to try to help our shooting a little bit and improve there. Hopefully our guys will be more comfortable with our routine. That’s the first time that we’ve done our game day routine and day before game routine so hopefully there’s a little bit of a comfort level and we can relax a little and just play. This is going to be a big test for us.”