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LSU Basketball

Telling road trip for Tigers

December 11, 2018

LSU’s last two games provided the opportunity for coach Will Wade to develop his team against outmanned competition.

The Tigers easily disposed of Grambling and Incarnate Word, the two worst teams on their schedule, by a combined total of 62 points.

Wade’s goal prior to the Grambling game was to have LSU start the offense inside with the ball going to the post players first. He also wanted LSU to take better 3-point shots.

In the week of practice before the game against Incarnate Word, Wade brought a boot-camp mentality. He had the desire to make his team tougher and grittier.

The Tigers’ results in these last two games were not going to be changed due to any different approach. LSU was a far superior team than both Grambling and Incarnate Word.

However, the Tigers’ two games away from the PMAC this week are not similar. First up is a game at undefeated Houston on Wednesday (8 p.m. Central/ESPN2). Then, LSU will face St. Mary’s in a neutral-site game in Las Vegas on Saturday.

These two contests are going to give a good indication where the Tigers stand less than one month from the start of the Southeastern Conference schedule. On Monday, LSU was No. 39 in the country in the NCAA’s NET rating, which has replaced the RPI.

That ranking would have LSU around a No. 9 seed if the NCAA tournament began at this time. Four SEC teams have a better NET rating than the Tigers – Tennessee at No. 5, Auburn at No. 10, Mississippi State at No. 27 and Kentucky at No. 33. Those are the four teams expected to finish ahead of LSU in the SEC.

The Tigers need to exhibit on this road trip the ability to win games away from the PMAC. Wade established a homecourt advantage in his first season as LSU went 14-4. The Tigers have a 13-game winning streak in the PMAC – their best stretch at home in ten seasons.

But, playing away from home has been a different matter. Since Wade became coach, LSU is 5-13 away from the PMAC. The Tigers dropped their final nine games on the road last season. Then, LSU was beaten twice in three games at the AdvoCare Invitational Tournament in Orlando last month.

If the Tigers are going to be a NCAA tournament team with the chance of making it through the first weekend, they must be able to win games on the road. A 3-6 SEC road record will not be part of a good body of work for the NCAA basketball tournament committee.

Not being able to come away with a victory at Houston or against St. Mary’s at Las Vegas would mean that Wade and his coaching staff have a lot of work to do before the SEC opener Jan. 8 against Alabama.

The Tigers’ best victory so far has been against North Carolina-Greensboro, which has a NET rating of 84. LSU also defeated College of Charleston, which is at No. 100. The Tigers fell to No. 29 Florida State in overtime and No. 72 Oklahoma State.

Wade needs point guard Tremont Waters to get on track. In these past two games, Waters did average 12 points per game while making nine of his 13 field goal attempts. But, he committed ten turnovers and handed out just six assists. Wade was benched by Wade on Sunday against Incarnate Word.

For LSU to be a definite NCAA tournament team, Waters must perform consistently well. The Tigers will be hard-pressed to surpass last season’s 18-15 record with a sub-par point guard.

Naz Reid, considered LSU’s most talented player, broke out of his slump against Incarnate Word when he scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. More importantly, all but one of his baskets came in the paint. Tigers fans are still waiting to see a productive inside-outside combo of Reid and Waters.

LSU has not been a full strength in the last two games. Wing Daryl Edwards missed both games because of a leg injury. Post player Emmitt Williams sat out the Incarnate Word game after taking an elbow to the mouth. Williams is expected to be on the floor against Houston.

At least, the Tigers have received some balanced offensive work in the lopsided victories against Grambling and Incarnate Word. The three starting perimeter players – Waters, Skylar Mays and Ja’vonte Smart – averaged between 11.5 and 12.5 points per game.

The scoring load was the same for LSU’s three post players – Reid, Kavell Bigby-Williams and Darius Days, who averaged between 11.0 and 12.0 points per game. Now, the Tigers just need a player – hopefully Waters – to raise his game to another level this week.

LSU Tigers Nike 2018 Sideline Performance Full-Zip Hoodie – Purple
LSU Tigers Nike 2018 Sideline Performance Full-Zip Hoodie – Purple

from: Fanatics

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