LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tigers Host Arkansas In Afternoon Hoops Tilt

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

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers need to replicate one of their better efforts Saturday afternoon if they hope to sweep the season series with Arkansas.

The Tigers and Razorbacks meet at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at LSUtix.net online and beginning at 1 p.m. at the LSU Athletic Ticket Windows on the upper concourse of the Maravich Center. LSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID.

It will be kids’ day at the game with kids receiving a coloring pennant as they enter. Members of Mike's Kids Club will get free admission to the game and their parents can purchase discounted tickets. Members of Mike's Kids Club will also be able to come down to the court after the game to take pictures and meet some of the players.

The game will be televised by the SEC Network with Kevin Fitzgerald and Barry Booker on the call, while the game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates with Chris Blair and John Brady on the call (Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area).

LSU is 3-6 in the SEC and 12-9 overall after two consecutive road losses to nationally-ranked Auburn and Tennessee. Arkansas is 15-7 and one of six teams just ahead of LSU at 4-5 in the league. Since the Tigers 75-54 win in Fayetteville on Jan. 10, Arkansas has won 4-of-6 games, but comes in off a road loss, 80-66, at Texas A&M on Tuesday.

LSU will have both Wayde Sims and Brandon Rachal back for the game after serving the one-game suspensions handed down by Coach Will Wade so LSU will dress 11 for the contest.

In the first meeting, the Tigers were balanced in scoring with Aaron Epps getting 13 points and 11 rebounds in 18 minutes, while Skylar Mays and Randy Onwuasor had 12 each and Duop Reath scored 11. Tremont Waters had eight points, but also had eight assists.

Jaylen Barford was the only player for Arkansas in double figures with 17 points as Arkansas shot just 33 percent compared to 52.7 for the Tigers. However, both teams ironically were just 4-of-18 from the arc and LSU won the game in the first half, building a 41-21 advantage.

There should be no change to LSU’s starters with Waters, Mays and Onwuasor all starting at guards and Reath and Epps at forwards. Reath, who has averaged 20.6 points over the last five games, had 21 points at Tennessee and Onwuasor had 10 as the only LSU players in double figures.

Arkansas will be trying to win back-to-back games in Baton Rouge for the first time since the 1999 season.

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

Opening Statement …
“We got Arkansas coming up. They have (Daryl) Macon off of the bench now. We need to do a good job on (Daniel) Gafford, play more physical than we did against Tennessee on Wednesday night. Hopefully we will get back on track at home.”

On what he sees different about Arkansas since the last time they played …
“They are a good team. We just caught them on an off night the first time. They can shoot it. Their guard play is good. The freshmen are playing better. Macon is playing at a high, high level. He did a tremendous job in the Georgia game. The other guys are playing better.”

On if they matchup better against Arkansas than other teams …
“I don’t know about that. The first game we probably caught them sleeping a little bit and I don’t think we will catch them sleeping tomorrow. We will get their best shot.”

On the lack of offense from the perimeter players …
“… We can sit here and slice things however you want to slice them, but you have to make open shots. We are in the SEC. You want to play in the SEC, you have to stick open shots. Right now, our guards aren’t making them. We can sit here and talk about the A&M game all we want, but you have to be able to make shots. We have two guys that are 5-of-23 from three. You have to be able to make open shots. Tennessee made theirs. I didn’t see James Daniel miss his open threes. Those guys stuck their open shots. We have to be able to make open shots. Tremont’s (Waters) are more off the bounce deal. He was shooting it a pretty good clip early, but he is not shooting is as well now. You have to be able to make open shots. We are shooting 25 percent as a perimeter from three in conference play, 33-of-138 I believe is the number.”

On if the struggles are mental …
“I certainly pointed out the numbers so it will be in their mind. You have to step up and make shots.”

On if getting Brandon Rachal and Wayde Sims back will help …
“It will help a little bit I guess. It will help a little bit. We need some production from them. They played 22 minutes, had two points, and two rebounds against Auburn between the two of them. Sometimes that stuff is a little overrated. As long as we don’t get in foul trouble, we won’t necessarily have to have all that many guys. It will be nice to have some bodies over there, if that is what you are asking. If something does go wrong we have somebody we can throw in there.”

On why they are practicing well, but not playing well in games …
“I wish I knew. Practiced well yesterday. I wish I knew. We just don’t execute what we need to execute in the games and we don’t nearly execute it as well as we do in practice. We look good in practice. We know everything that is going on, we are flying around. We look great in practice. Once we get in the game, for whatever reason, we get discombobulated. We are working on it.”

On if winning their last home game will bring them confidence against Arkansas …
“Sure. We beat A&M at home. That is good. It is better than losing at home. We are going to get Arkansas’ best shot. We told our team before the Vanderbilt game that Vanderbilt was desperate. We are going to get their best effort, we had to exceed their level of effort. We didn’t do it. Auburn, we had to exceed their energy. We didn’t do it. Tennessee, we had to exceed their physicality. We didn’t do it. That is what you have set up going into the game. You either get it done, or you don’t. We haven’t been getting it done. I don’t think it matters where the game is play. You would rather be at home. When you are at home, the SEC gives you these quick turnarounds so it is a little bit different. Arkansas played Tuesday, we played Wednesday. It’s a quicker deal when you are at home.”

On the team’s weak points …
“Well our biggest weak point would be our rebounding, just our lack of physicality. That would be our number one issue. Second issue would be our three-point defense. That would be a good couple of places to start. You could probably put transition defense right behind that. Guarding the ball, ball screens, I could keep going down the list. I would say our rebounding, three-point defense, and our transition defense. Our three-point and transition defense go hand in hand. That would be a good place to start. Our transition defense and our three-point defense are going to get stressed tomorrow. Arkansas is good in both of those areas. We won up there, but it could have been a different game without C.J. Jones #23. He missed a couple of wide open looks early in the game. We didn’t rotate to him. One of our guys ran into a screen and gave him an open look. If he hits those, it is a different game. We can keep relying on luck, or make sure we do what we need to do to make sure he doesn’t hit them.”

On if he considers the Arkansas game their best overall game this year …
“No. Our best overall game this season was against Houston. Houston challenges you physically. Arkansas does as well. Houston was our best game.”

On what things they need to replicate from their last matchup in Fayetteville …
“Our offense was a little bit more efficient, so that was a positive. (Jaylen) Barford and Macon are both very good. We did a good job on Macon, but Barford went nuts. We did a pretty good job on Macon and Gafford, the big kid, got into foul trouble. If we do a good job on those guys, that will help. That would be a good place to start.”

On if being shorthanded contributed to the loss to Tennessee …
“No, not really. When we got it to six we threw one off of the backboard for three when we could have dunked it down for a dunk. Then we come down the next possession, turn it over. Then we come down on the next possession and lose a guy on the baseline runner action and give up a three. I don’t think any of those were necessarily fatigue. I think it had to do with not making smart plays and not doing what we needed to do. I don’t think it had anything to do with any sort of fatigue.”

On if he wants his wing players to finish stronger at the rim
“Finish stronger at the rim, make a three, anything. We would settle for anything at this point. We had a bunch of them blocked. 11 (Kyle Alexander) came from behind three times and blocked our shots. He is a good player, going to be a really good player for them, Alexander. You have to finish at the rim, but when the defense sinks in you have to kick out and make some shots as well. Certainly we would like to finish down there. Our shooting percentages show that we don’t finish very well down there.”

On if the press on the guards gets them out of their comfort zone and making them miss open shots …
“I have never had this issue so I really don’t know. They are getting good, we just have to make them. We were 1-of-7 on uncontested threes. We have to make them. You should be three or four of seven if you get uncontested looks. Other teams are making theirs and we don’t make ours. If we could just throw a couple in, we would make a game out of it. If you throw a couple in and getting a little bit better defense and rebounding, then you have the makings of a pretty good team. That is our goal. Get a little better, make a few more threes, get a little more physical with our rebounding, and get a little bit better sticking to our plan defensively.”

On what is going well for Duop Reath offensively …
“Teams are smart. It is hard to win two-by-two. They are just letting us throw the ball into him and he is getting one-on-one coverage and he can score. They are basically saying that they would rather throw it into him. He is taking advantage of it. The sweet spot for him is that he needs to score 14 to 16 points a game on about 10 to 11 shots. Right now we are feeding him 15 to 18 times a game trying to feed him down there. We are not going to win that way, even though you can score a bunch of points. We are just not going to be effective winning that way. Teams know that so they are just letting him go to work down there one-on-one, which I what I would do because they can take away some of our other things. It is a smart strategy. He is doing well. You still have to score when you throw that thing in there. He scored it, showed his post moves. He is playing well. If we could get him more in a 14, 15, 16 point a night range, that would still be great, but it really stresses the system with some of our other stuff.”

On the difficulty of not taking advantage of what the defense is giving them …
“It is really hard not to take it when nothing else is working. You have to take what you can get, and that is the best we can get. You have to take it but you know, in my mind, that every time you feed it down there I am like ‘alright we are losing points on this possession even if he scores.’ We are behind the eight ball and you know it every time you throw that thing in there. We are falling further and further behind. At some point you do have to take the points. If they are going to give you easy points, then you have to take the points as opposed to trying to force something that is not there. (Duop) is doing a good job. He is doing what we are asking him to do. He has been great. He is down there finishing. He is shooting 54 percent in the league from the field. He is our best three-point shooter too. 44 percent from three. He and (Aaron) Epps are our two best three-point shooters. Epps shoots 40 percent in league and Duop shoots 44 percent in league. They are our two best three-point shooters, our best low-post options. That is where we are. He is doing a great job. Couldn’t ask a whole lot more from him. He is playing better defensively, he is taking charges, he is shielding up, he blocked a few shots, but it is not the best way to win. It is not a recipe for winning a lot of games.”

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