Will Wade and Duop Reath will lead the Tigers back to the Maravich Center Tuesday night against Texas A&M.
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tigers Meet Aggies in Baton Rouge Basketball Rematch

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

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers host the Texas A&M Aggies in a rematch of LSU’s dramatic one-point victory on Jan. 6 Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

Tickets for the contest are available at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office and online at LSUTix.net. The upper concourse ticket windows will open at 6:30 p.m. for the game. Some early printed materials listed the game start prior to the season as 5:30 p.m., but the game will be the second game of the doubleheader on ESPNU’s Super Tuesday coverage. The radio broadcast will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).

 

Rich Hollenberg and Debbie Antonelli will have the TV coverage, while the Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair will be joined by former LSU men’s basketball coach John Brady on the radio broadcast.

 

LSU students get in free with a valid student ID and it is a student point night offering points that can be used for future ticket privileges.

 

LSU is 11-7 and 2-4 in the league, while the Aggies won both games last week against Ole Miss and Mizzou to go to 13-6 and 2-5 in the SEC. The Aggies are also back at full strength after having a couple of players out in the first meeting on Jan. 6.

 

In that game, LSU was a 69-68 winner as freshman guard Tremont Waters hit two three pointers in the final 12 seconds from long range for the win.

 

LSU is coming off a 77-71 loss at Vanderbilt in a game the Tigers were 16 points down in the second half and came back to take a lead with 2:21 to play. LSU was unable to sustain the game and Vanderbilt was able to get back in front and hold on for the final margin.

 

Duop Reath, the senior forward, made 13-of-20 field goals, including a trey, in getting his second double double of the season with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Skylar Mays was the only other Tiger in double figures with 13 points.

 

Coach Will Wade met with the media after practice on Monday and here are some of his comments:

 

Opening Statement …

“Well we have A&M coming up. A good team, maybe the toughest matchup for us in the league now that they are healthy with (Robert) Williams, Admon Gilder, and obviously Duane Wilson. It will be a much different game than the first game at their place. They are big, they are physical. They can start a lineup where their three man is bigger than our center. It puts us in some tough spots. We are going to have to rebound the ball as best we can. We kept it manageable at their place, of course they didn’t have one of their bigs. We have to rebound as best we can. We have to just keep them from barraging us in the paint and absolutely annihilating us down there. They are averaging 45 points a game in the paint. We have to try to keep that number a little bit lower than that. We are going to have to make some shots on offense. We are certainly due to make some shots and hopefully it will happen (Tuesday) night.”

 

On the challenges of preparing to play a team a second time …

“You look a lot at how they guarded the first game. What you can do to counter what they did, what they may change against you that worked. What were our most successful plays, how will they change how they guard those plays. What can we do we counter that? You just go through every scenario. You try to get your best stuff. What can we put in to take advantage or what did we not run at their place to take advantage of some things they did. Just kind of punch, counter punch type of deal.”

 

On if this Texas A&M team will feel different since they last played …

“They are a totally different team. This is a totally different group than what we saw. When they have all of their players, they are as good as anybody in our league. They have all of their guys and they will be charged up and ready to go so we will have to get off to a good start and try to hang in there.”

 

On the importance of getting Tremont Waters good looks early …

“I think we just need to get him in space. He just needs to play in a little bit more space. We have him in too confined of an area. Teams are kind of copying the same game plan against him. We have to adjust a little bit better and give him a little bit more room to operate.”

 

On if Tremont Waters is getting frustrated over the last couple of games …

“It is part of it. When you are as good as he has been, you don’t experience a lot of adversity. He is experiencing it. Most of the time what little adversity he has experience he has been able to overcome with raw talent. This is a little bit of a different deal. It has been a learning process for him. This is why you come to college. This is what it is about. It is our job as a staff to have to help him through that. It is my job as a head coach to help him through that. One thing we learned about him is that he is very resilient. He bounces back quickly. We certainly need him to play at a high level for us, but we have to do what we can to help him do that. We have certainly worked on that the last couple of days.”

 

On training the team mentally after frustration sets in …

“That is part of it. In three of our four SEC losses, we have led with under two minutes left. The only game we didn’t was against Alabama. It’s not like we have been getting our doors blown. We have been right there. As you grow a program, the first step is not getting your doors blown off. We played unbelievable at Arkansas and beat them. There will be one game probably left where we don’t play very well and we are going to do everything we can to guard against that. For the most part we have hung in there. The first step is changing that part of it. The harder part is that you have to be able to close. As a coach, it is difficult because you want to be able to win. This is part of the growing process. We are trying to close games with a freshman and a sophomore guard out there. There is a learning curve that comes with that. We have made some mistakes. We certainly don’t want to continually make the same mistakes. That was what was frustrating against Vanderbilt, we made some of the same mistakes. We did the same thing that we have done a bunch of times. That is part of the process as you grow your program and grow your team. It is not always fun, but that is just where we are.  We have to continue to position ourselves to where we get into the last two minutes where we have a lead or we are within a possession and we have to close. We have to make better decisions. We certainly have been working on it every day. We have been watching film and trying to learn from it and learn from what other teams do. We have to continually put ourselves in those positions and if you do that and learn from it, then the tide will turn a little bit.”

 

On if it helps to be in close games or if frustration sets in …

“I don’t sense our guys are frustrated. They know that we let some opportunities slip away. We have good resolve to us. We have a good way about us. You have to do your best work when the chips are down, no matter what line of work you are in … When stuff gets bad, you have to figure it out. It is not always going to be pretty, you just have to figure it out. We have to do our best work when things are not going well. When you do that, if you keep working hard, keep punching the clock, keep being about the right things, it turns. It always turns. We will have something happen to us because we will make it happen, we will have earned it and we will have earned the right for it to have happened. We just have to keep doing what we are doing every day. What we do works. Our process works. It has put us in games, we just have to finish and close. I think the more experience that we get in these type of games, the better opportunity we will have to finish these type of games.”

 

On the key on defending Texas A&M …

“They are very well coached. They get the ball in there to those guys. You have to try to keep them from getting the ball in there to those guys. You have to keep them from getting the ball in there and you have to try to dig it out. The first time we played them, they didn’t have their shooters. They had (DJ) Hogg back, but they didn’t have Admon Gilder who is a very good shooter. It was a little bit of a different deal. We could just basically not guard two of their guards that they had out there and just go down in the paint and take the ball from their bigs. They were playing (Tonny Trocha-) Morelos, who is a little bit more of a perimeter oriented big guy as their four. They played Hogg some at the four. It is just a totally different game. They have their two behemoths down there and it is just a different deal. They are going to pound that thing in there. We are going to have to be sturdy, try and take away their primary moves, keep the ball out of there as best we can. The real fun begins when the ball gets up on the backboards. At that point we just have to do anything we can to go corral the ball.”

 

On how much pressure gets put on Duop Reath and Aaron Epps when the guards don’t shoot well …

“The most concerning part, as a coach, is that we have not consistency. When you show up to the game you are not like ‘that guy for sure is going to be the leading scorer. They just have to find one or two guys to play.’ The only thing that is consistent is that Epps or Duop is going to play well every night. We have one of those two bigs is going to play well for us. We can bank on that and we just have to figure out which one it is and kind of roll with him. We have one of those two. (Skylar) Mays has been fairly consistent for us even when he doesn’t shoot it great. He can dig out 10, 12, 14 points. You can pretty much put that in the scorebook. Waters had been fairly consistent. He is going to come back. We have no third scorer. We have no idea. We are just trying to throw people in there to see what is going on. I thought Randy (Onwuasor) played well at Vanderbilt. Randy has our best +/- of those other guys in SEC play. He is plus 26 in SEC play. He has, by far, our best +/- in SEC play. I am the idiot for not playing him as much. That is going to change. We just kind of have to throw some other guys in there. That is the hard part. We have to do a lot of stuff on the fly in the game because we don’t know exactly what is going to happen going in. It is a pretty safe bet that Tyler Davis is going to get double digits tomorrow night. Hogg is going to hit a couple of threes tomorrow night. Admon Gilder is going to get a couple run through steals and get layups and be a defensive man. It is a pretty safe bet A&M has that coming in. That is more frustrating than the numbers. At least if I knew that guy was going to shoot that percentage, I could move on. We just don’t. I think they shot 32 percent for Vanderbilt. You just don’t know. We need consistency. If we had a little bit more consistency, which would help.”

 

On what he has to do to better close out games …

“The Vandy one to me was different than the Georgia one. The Vandy one was just bad luck. When things don’t go your way.  (Brandon) Rachal and Duop were both going for the ball, Vandy wasn’t even trying to get the ball. It was just like the Bad News Bears trip out of bounds. I can’t fault our effort or our technique. There can’t be a team that spent as much time on free throw block outs. It has gotten to the point where I hope they make the second free throw, so we don’t have to block out. Miss the first and make the second. We did it in the preseason because I knew it would be a problem for us. We are never going to foul down three because we have to block out if that happens. The Georgia game was more of a, we missed two pinches. We can’t leave those bigs in there one-on-one. We are just light.  Two different guys missed pinches on (Yante) Maten. It is just little stuff like that. To me the Vanderbilt one was different. We just lost the ball. I can’t fault our guys for that. I can’t fault Duop, I can’t fault Rachal. They were going for the ball. The Georgia was more our fault. The Kentucky was more our fault. That one wasn’t. That was just bad luck.”

 

On if the team is where he thought they would be at the beginning of the season …

“I don’t ever look at it like that. I look at it day-to-day. I do think we have made great strides in a lot of areas. The toughest thing to do is to close out games and win close games in conference and have a belief that you are going to win those games. That is kind of the final step for us. We have positioned ourselves, which is a positive. We have shown that we can close games out with Michigan and Houston to some extent. The final step is that you have to close things out tough conference games. A game at Vanderbilt where you don’t play as well, but you climb back from a 16 point deficit to take the lead. The hardest part is getting the lead. The free throw block outs. We missed a bunch of free throws in this game. That has been a common denominator. We missed some big free throws down the stretch. The free throw block outs. The starts to the second half. We were down 20 to four between the first half and the second half, so we were down 16 to Vanderbilt just in the last five minutes of the first half and the first three minutes of the second half. That is an eight minute stretch. We played pretty well in the other part of the game. It is a product of figuring that part out and making sure that we have to finish. Like I said, we have a freshman (Tremont Waters) out there trying to finish. This is totally different in college basketball. He has finished some games for us. We have a sophomore (Skylar Mays) out there at guard trying to finish and if we are being honest with ourselves, he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to finish because there weren’t a lot of close games. We basically have two freshmen out there, experience wise, trying to finish games. There are growing pains when that come to that. We are working on it. We worked on four in-game situations today in practice. We worked on free throw block outs. We worked on all of that stuff. If we just keep punching the clock that will come. I do give our guys credit for, we aren’t into consolation prizes, but they are hanging in there. We are hanging tough. We are not getting our doors blown off. We are making progress. We are going to close some of these out if we just stick to what we are supposed to do if we keep working and keep our head moving forward. Certainly we have given some of them away that are disappointing and when you look back on the year you are going to be really disappointed that you didn’t have it. Like I said, you have the lead with under two minutes left. You don’t expect to go 0-3 in those games. You should be 1-2 at worst, probably 2-1. That is the disappointing part. That is also the part where you have the opportunity to grow and learn.”

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