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Men's Hoops On Road Thursday vs. Wake Forest

Brandon Sampson is averaging 12.5 ppg entering Thurs. game at Wake Forest
Brandon Sampson is averaging 12.5 ppg entering Thurs. game at Wake Forest
Bridgette Hogan
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The LSU Tigers will try to translate success at home to success on the road when they play their first true road contest here Thursday night against Wake Forest.

The game will tip off just after 8 p.m. CT at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the 8-2 Tigers take on the 8-3 Demon Deacons. The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with the “Voice of the Tigers” Chris Blair and Henry Hayes on the call. ESPNU will have the telecast of the game with Mike Morgan and Jeff Capel the announcers.

This will be the final tune-up before the Christmas break and the final contest before Southeastern Conference play opens for the Tigers on Dec. 29 at home against Vanderbilt.

LSU posted three wins in a seven day period all against top 100-RPI teams – North Carolina Central (70-66), Texas Southern (88-80) and Charleston this past Monday (75-65). Wake Forest lost in its last game at No. 17 Xavier, 89-85. The Demon Deacons, like LSU, are preparing for conference play as they open up in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Dec. 28 at Florida State before playing Clemson on New Year’s Eve.

In Wake’s last game, Bryant Crawford had a team-high 20 to go with six assists and John Collins (12 points, 12 rebounds) posted his sixth consecutive double double. In LSU’s win over Charleston, junior Duop Reath tied his season high with 23 points and Craig Victor II had his third straight double figure rebound game and his second consecutive double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

While LSU has already gone undefeated at home in non-conference play this year, the Demon Deacons are looking to go undefeated at home in non-conference play.

The teams have played twice before in what will be the second part of a back-to-back home-and-home contract. But the teams first met in the old Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans in December 1981 with LSU a 70-64 winner.

Last year, Wake Forest was able to defeat LSU at the Maravich Center, 77-71 as Crawford scored 19 points to lead Wake Forest. Victor had 19 points for LSU in the game in which LSU was unable to hold a five-point lead with 8:31 to play in the contest.

Collins comes in averaging 17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds for Wake Forest while Crawford is at 13.7 a game. Keyshawn Woods is the other double double scorer averaging 12.9.

LSU is expected to continue with its lineup from this four-game winning streak with Skylar Mays (4.8 ppg, 4.1 apg) at point guard with Antonio Blakeney (15.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Brandon Sampson (12.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg) at the other guard spots; and, Reath (15.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.9 bpg) and Victor II (10.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg) anchoring the forward spots.

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LSU Coach Johnny Jones met with the media prior to the team’s departure for the game and here are some of his comments:


Opening statement…
“After another victory (Monday) I’m really pleased with our guys’ effort and the direction I think they’re continuing to drive this team on this journey. We’re excited about (Monday) night but we have to quickly turn our attention to a really good, solid Wake Forest basketball team that we played a year ago. These guys have done a great job so far this year and we know that it will be a tough challenge but its one that we're looking forward to. We’re going on the road against a team from another conference and we feel that they have an opportunity to compete in the upper half of their division. It’s going to be a great challenge for us and I think it’s an excellent game for us prior to getting into conference play which will start on the 29th of December for us. I think our guys are trending the right way. I like their effort and the way that they've played together. They've also done a good job of talking about and expressing what’s important at the end of the day and that's winning. They've done all the right things to continue to develop winning ways. It's a process but we certainly like the way that they’re playing together.”

On young players learning from non-conference…
“Well it really good that they've had to play in the type of environment they've played in against the type of competition they’ve faced. They've been in some crucial situations where they've had to execute late in games. It won’t be anything new for them or be unchartered territory. We’re excited that not only we’ve been in those battles but … we’ve executed the way that we needed to on the offensive end of floor and on the defensive end of the floor. We’ve gotten the necessary stops to come out with victories.”

On Wake Forest being the team’s first true road game…
“It’s different. We’ve played on neutral sites and certain teams brought a good many fans and it was good for our guys especially with the caliber of competition that is was. This will be another step. It’ll be on someone else’s court, it’ll be our first true road game, and we’ll have an opportunity to see how our first timers, be it our freshmen or junior college transfer guys, will perform in that manner. So that's what’s exciting about it. I’m glad we have the opportunity to do that now than going on the road for the first time in conference play. This is something that we’ll have an opportunity to get used to, but I think these guys are ready to perform at a high level.”

On the teams confidence coming off of last game…
“Absolutely. I think anytime that you play in the situations that our guys have been put in, really close games against good competition, it gives them reason to understand what it takes to grind, to make stops, and to focus. They’ve been put in that situation and I’m excited about where we are and what they've gone through, especially with what we’re about to embark upon and face these next few games.”

On how the guys being able to play together this year…
“It’s been good. I think you can take the guys experience from last year that had to play in some difficult and hostile situations, and now they're seasoned because of that. I think those experiences have helped those guys and I think it’s helped them help new guys on the team in terms of their approach and their focus. It’s always learning and growing experience and its one game at a time and I think they understand that approach. They've done a good job preparing for them.”

On what Duop Reath and Craig Victor II provide down low…
“What I really like is consistency. When guys are consistent you can look prior the game and expect what those guys are going to give you, whether it be a high field-goal shooting percentage, rebounds, or points that you can expect from them. I thought there were a couple of guys last year that we could look to do that and we could count on them. I think these two guys are very capable that as the night goes on that their stat lines will be pretty accurate to what you’re getting. If you can mark those things up and understand what you’re getting from your other guys I think that's the sign of a good team. We’ve been off a to a good start with both of those post players I think with complimenting each other and playing off of each other.”

On how winning close games help the team…
“It’s a challenge. I think as we continue to grow as a team, when we get teams down by ten, you’re hopeful that as your team continues to grow that you can win that next whatever window it is. If it's a timeout, you have to come out and win that next segment so that you can go from 10 to 15 then from 15 to 20. That's where you make that difference and that's just a mindset and an attitude that you can continue to develop. When you play good teams they’re going to come out of timeouts and battle and they’re going to give something different whether it is on the offensive end of the defensive end. When they give you certain wrinkles, how does your team handle runs and as this team continues to mature we’ll handle those better. At the same time, even though we’ve had leads and had teams come back, we’ve finished well. We have to have that mindset to build on those leads significantly going toward the end of the game so that there is a bigger margin of victory at the end.”

On Duop Reath’s transition to D1 basketball…
“I wish I‘d thought this out. I would’ve slept better before the season if I had known he would be performing at this level. He continues to get better, especially when you talk about transitioning from high school or junior college to a division one athlete because it’s different. The pace of play, the athletes, different style of play, those things go hand in hand and he’s done a really good job of adapting and playing with his back to the basket. We run a lot of stuff and he’s been able to pick things up offensively, defensively, and with schemes and it’s been good. To say that I knew he would play this well ten games in, I wouldn't be able to say that, but I’m not surprised by it because of the work ethic and his effort that he gave us in the offseason.”

On Duop’s impact on the rest of the team’s defense…
“We’ve got to do a better job with those guys up front guarding the ball. We have to make sure they do a great job of containing and keeping people out of the lane. I think you put yourself in a situation where you can get your post guys in some difficult situations where they’re challenging people at the rim quite often. It’s great because guys are going in looking to pass instead of looking to finish. If they do go in to finish they’ve altering their shots more or they don't know where he’s coming from because he doesn’t quit on plays. It doesn't necessarily have to be his man. He can go out of his way and block shots and be that second line defender. At the same time he can go and get rebounds out of his area because he’s constantly moving. It’s great having someone back there and I thought we missed that element of our team a year ago.”




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