LSU Basketball resumes SEC play Wednesday

Geaux Nation

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 21: Head coach Will Wade of the LSU Tigers on the sidelines in the second half of the game against the USC Trojans at Staples Center on December 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The LSU Tigers look to continue to find their way through the Southeastern Conference when they host Alabama in a 6 p.m. game Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. 

The game is set to air on ESPN2 with Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes and will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network with the “Voice” of the Tigers Chris Blair and former LSU head coach John Brady (Guaranty Media BR Flagship Eagle 98.1 FM).

Tickets are available during the normal business hours at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and anytime at LSUTix.net. The upper concourse ticket windows will open at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. LSU Students get in free with valid student ID and the first 500 students to the game will get free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.

The game will also be the third-annual Coaching For Literacy game as LSU brings awareness to the Fight4Literacy campaign by NCAA coaches throughout the country.

The Tigers are back in the national rankings at No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 24 in the USA Today poll after winning the last eight games. LSU is now 15-4 overall and 6-0 in the SEC. The Tigers are one game up entering Tuesday play on Kentucky with Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee two games back at 4-2. Tennessee, Florida and Auburn all play Tuesday.

Both Alabama (12-7) and LSU won their games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge leading into this game. Alabama was a 77-74 winner at home over Kansas State while LSU was a 69-67 winner over Texas in Austin.

Alabama sophomore Kira Lewis Jr., was named the SEC Men’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in wins over Vanderbilt and Kansas State. On the other side, LSU’s Trendon Watford was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 18 points and six rebounds in the wins over Florida and Texas. 

Against the Longhorns, Watford had a season high 22 points and six rebounds.

LSU will be trying to figure out how to play with a continued focus throughout the contest, something Coach Will Wade tried to emphasize in his Monday media session. The Tigers will be trying to avoid the moments when the focus allows teams to get back in the game after LSU has built a lead. 

This will be the first of two home games for LSU as the Tigers will also host Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m. It will be Alumni Weekend and LSU Athletics will celebrate the 50th anniversary of LSU’s Pete Maravich breaking the NCAA career scoring record.

As mentioned, Coach Wade met with the media and here are some of his comments:

Opening statement…
“First off, congrats to Trendon (Watford) for being freshman of the week.  Well deserved.  Two great games against Florida and then obviously the tremendous game at Texas he helped us win.  Well-deserved for him, we’re happy for him.  Hopefully it’s something we can continue to build on.  

“A big game ahead with Alabama, very good team.  Elite offensive team, elite speed at the guard position with (Kira) Lewis and (John) Petty. He’s the best shooter in the league.  Shooting 48-percent from three on 132 attempts.  Very good player.  They’ve got a good team; they’re a matchup problem for us.  They’ve got (Alex) Reese at the five who can pick and pop and make shots.  I think they have four of the top 30 shooters in the league, including Petty who is the best one now … It will be a big challenge for us defensively being able to stop them, contest threes, keep them out of transition.  We’re going to have to do a good job offensively, run a good offense to complement our defense so we’re not playing defense the entire game and on our heels.”

On his thoughts about the passing of Kobe Bryant…
“I was actually in here with our guys when it happened – when the news broke.  I walked in the training room; I was in the coach’s locker room watching film.  When I was growing up it was always Michael Jordan, with these guys it was Kobe.  His mentality and the way he approached things, the way he went about his business was second to none.  It certainly hit a lot of our guys hard, our staff hard.  He was a basketball icon.  We played out at Staples Center last month. There’s a little area for Kobe and Shaq outside and all of our guys spent time out there.  It’s devastating, very tough for a lot of our players and a lot of people in general.”

On recruiting and instilling fight in your players…
“You try to recruit guys from winning program who are used to winning.  Usually if you’re used to winning that means you’re in a lot of close games.  When you go on the road you’re the big ticket that everybody is gunning for.  You try to get guys from really good programs who understand that.  Then you develop them through your program.  You develop your own DNA; you have to develop your own mentality.  The answer is a little bit of both.  You’ve got to recruit a little bit and then you’ve got to hone it in and continue to foster it and develop it once they get here.”

On the close games and losing the 16-point lead at Texas before winning…
“Yeah, I’m getting tired of losing all these leads and I’m going to talk to our guys about this today.  I’ve tried to be nice about this and I’ve tried to talk through it and work through it but I’m done with that.  We have terrible possessions, we do terrible things.  We’ve got to get it corrected.  What we’re doing is not going to work if we’re going to compete at the top of the league and be a good team.  Quite frankly I’m sick of it.  I’ve been kind of nice about it with our team but we’ve got to quit putting ourselves in these stupid situations.  We’re not consistent enough; we don’t do what we’re supposed to do.  I’m tired of it.  We’re going to get that corrected hopefully.  Where when we are in these situations we’ll be able to play a lot better and continue to focus in on what we need to do and be a good basketball team.  We’re holding ourselves back from being the basketball team that we can be right now.  We’ve got to cut that out.”

On if there are trends he sees in blowing leads…
“There are a few trends, and I’ve tried to be nice about correcting them and we’re going to get them corrected.  We’re going to start running for them.  We’re going to start paying for them.  I’m tired of it. I’m absolutely fed up with it.”

On being able to guard the three-point line against a team like Alabama…
“With a team like this, they are good shooters.  They’ve got four of the top 30 shooters in the league.  So you’ve got to cut down on their attempts.  They take almost 30 a game so if you can turn 10 of those three attempts a game into some twos, then you’re going to win the mathematical equation there.  Teams are going to shoot what they shoot so you’ve got to limit attempts and go about it that way.” 

On how you keep getting in these situations
“I think we have to grow up.  Our guards have to grow up.  We have to grow up.  We’ve got to make the right play.  We’ve got to make the simple play.  We have to quit turning the ball over all the time.  That’s what is holding us back.  We’ve got to get that corrected and we’ve got to have some vigor to get it corrected.  I assure you, I will.  Hopefully that will pass down to the rest of our team.  I’m tired of it.  I’m fed up with it.  I’m tired of it.”

On Marlon Taylor getting his stride back…
“He played well for two games.  He’s got to be more consistent.  He was just okay against Texas.  He’s got to continue to be consistent and do what he needs to do to help our team and help us win.” 

On Trendon Watford’s recent play …
“He’s a talented player and I think he’s just getting started.  He’s a really good player and I think you could see that from the beginning.  Now he’s just getting more acclimated to use your word, he’s getting used to the pace, the speed, and things function.  As he gets more comfortable and acclimated the positive results will follow.  He and Tremont Waters are different types of players but we are comfortable with Trendon (Watford) and Skylar (Mays) with having the ball in their hands late in the game.   I think those guys have shown that they can make big plays.  When we need a big play, those guys come through for us and get it done for us.  I think those guys have certainly shown that they’re closers and can make plays.  We need a couple of those guys. We only had one of those guys last year with Tremont (Waters).  It makes you a little more versatile and tougher when you’ve got two.  There are some different things and actions that we can run when we have both of them involved which makes it a little more difficult to key in on one guy coming down the stretch.”

On being ranked in the top 25 …
“Great. It lasted about a week last time, right?  It lasted one week, we got our loss and haven’t been back since.  If we don’t get this other stuff corrected, we won’t be there for very long.  We will be out like “that” so if we don’t get this other stuff correct, we will be done.”

On what the team needs to correct …
“I won’t tell you everything but for one, we turn the ball over, the ball doesn’t move on offense.  Two, we give up backbreaking offensive rebounds because we don’t’ rebound down, do our jobs how we need to do them defensively, and we lose all focus and attention to detail with our scouting report.  We let players get to their right hands or left hands, whatever their dominant hands are.  We can’t get into our ball screen coverage, we throw the ball all over the court, and we forget where we are and what color jersey we’re wearing.  It’s the same stuff every time.”

On what the message is to the team after the win over Texas …
“We have to be more consistent.  We get tired, fatigued, and we make bad decisions.  When you make bad decisions, bad things happen.  That’s why we didn’t score for eight minutes or whatever it was.  I think we scored one field goal in however long it was but part of it was Texas and part of it was us.  We were taking off of the bounce threes, taking shots you’re going to make 18 to 20 percent of the time.  We are upset when they don’t go in. What did you expect?  We could be good – that’s what is so frustrating.  We are fooling ourselves; I know everybody wants to sit over here and pat ourselves on the back for being ranked and 15-4, but it’s not going to work.  It’s not going to work on Wednesday against Alabama. They will come in here and slap us around if we don’t get this stuff corrected.  We better have people that have our sense of urgency to get all of this corrected.  

“You can be blinded by all of that, but we could easily be sitting here 2-4 in conference because we have blown these simple things and lost our focus.  I choose to take a realistic balance to approach things and I’ve been pretty balanced with them.  I’ve tried to be really nice about getting these things corrected but it isn’t corrected.  I darn well know how to get it corrected, that’s to be a raving lunatic and it will work.  I can get it corrected, I’ve tried the nice way of getting it corrected, but I know the fool proof way of getting it corrected and that’s fixing to come here at three o’clock.  Look at the Texas game, it was an exact replica of the Utah State game, we just got lucky.  We made a few shots and Texas couldn’t handle our 1-3-1.  It’s an exact replica of the Utah State game and that’s my point.  We shouldn’t have been in the position against Utah State and we shouldn’t have been in that position against Texas.  If we keep doing that, you’re going to be flipping a coin, you are going to win one and lose one.  You are going to beat Texas and lose to Utah State.  Let’s stop flipping the damn coin and get it right so we win by double-digits and everybody cannot have to take their heart medication every night.”

On the current rotation …
“We have other guys that can play. (James) Bishop was hurt going into the last game.  He hurt himself in practice but Bishop and Marshall (Graves) are guys we can play.  I think (Charles) Manning will come back relatively quickly so hopefully we will have those guys.  We have to play with who we have to play.  All of these kids want more playing time anyway, so we got seven guys that have to go out and perform.  Do your job in the minutes that you are given.  Kira Lewis Jr. from Alabama plays 38 to 39 minutes a game. He leads the SEC in minutes.  He’s taken it over from Skylar who had it the previous two seasons.  His motor doesn’t turn off. That thing is cranked the entire game.  He’s jetting to the rim, 19 minutes to go in the first half and he’s jetting to the rim with 19 seconds to go in the second half.  That thing isn’t turning off and he plays a ton of minutes.  (John) Petty Jr. plays a lot and he’s shooting 50 percent on 132 threes, 48 percent.  It doesn’t affect them, that’s all excuses.  Play harder, do your job when you are in there and do something with your minutes.”   

(Press Release Provided by LSU Athletics)

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