Men's Basketball Travels to Face Rice

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
+0
Men's Basketball Travels to Face Rice

HOUSTON – The LSU men’s basketball team will look for a second straight win on an opponent’s home court when they take on the Rice Owls Wednesday night at the Tudor Fieldhouse.

The game, set to tip at just after 7 p.m., will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (WTGE New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and at www.LSUsports.net/live.

LSU is 8-5 coming off Monday’s 62-41 win at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Southern, while Rice, off since Dec. 23, is 6-6 after losing its last two games in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic to Miami (73-67) and Oral Roberts (80-78).

LSU is playing its final two non-conference games on the road with one more game Sunday at Virginia before opening Southeastern Conference play at Auburn on Jan. 8. Rice closes out its non-conference play on Sunday as well hosting TCU on Sunday.

The game marks LSU’s first trip to Rice since Dec. 16, 1965, back when the 5,208 gymnasium was known since its opening in 1950 as Rice Gymnasium and the playing floor, which still to this day is known as “Autry Court.” It was renamed in honor of Rice trustee and basketball player Bobby Tudor who spearheaded the renovation of the facility with a $7 million dollar donation. The renovation cost some $23 million and the facility reopened prior to the 2008-09 season.

Tudor’s younger brother, John, played at LSU and was a member of the 1980-84.

The game also brings Coach Trent Johnson back to Rice where he served as an assistant on the Rice coaching staff from 1992 to 1996 and marks the return of Rice great Brent Scott to Tudor Fieldhouse. Scott finished his four-year career at Rice (1989-93) as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,906 points. After his professional career concluded, Scott returned to Rice as an assistant coach for the 2007-08 season before joining Coach Johnson’s LSU staff in July 2008.

Scott currently ranks second-all-time in scoring and rebounding at Rice. He was the Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year and three-time All-SWC selection.

There are even more parallels in the game as after four years on the staff at Rice, Coach Johnson headed west to Stanford as an assistant coach. That was current Rice head coach’s first season at California as head coach. Johnson and Braun played each other during Johnson’s four years as head coach at Stanford and reunited as opponents last year when LSU and Rice met in Baton Rouge with LSU winning 65-61.

“When you look at all the storylines that don’t involve me, but involve Brent Scott, my assistant, from a standpoint that he recruited some of these kids; he’s the second leading scorer and the second leading rebounder. His jersey will probably be hung here at some point and time,” Coach Johnson said.

Monday night it was Ralston Turner and Malcolm White in the second half that made sure that Southern was unable to come back from their 4-of-26 first half shooting. LSU lead the game 28-12 at the half, but Southern went on a run to cut it to nine early in the final 20 minutes, but Turner with 15 points and White off the bench with his second double of the year (16 points, 11 rebounds) that made the difference as LSU broke its two-game losing streak.

Andre Stringer, who is looking to get his scoring touch back, still leads the team at 14.1 points per game, while Turner is now at 13.8 points per contest. White has moved into third on the team in scoring at 9.2 points a game.

Garrett Green got his first start of the year at forward in place of White and Stringer, Turner and Dotson at the guards should be joined by any combination of Green, White and Storm Warren at the two forward sports.

Rice trailed by as many as 17 points in their last game with Oral Roberts before tying the game at 70 with 3:48 to play. Oral Roberts’ Dominique Morrison scored with 2.5 seconds to play to get the win. Tamir Jackson scored a career-high 25 points and he is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points a game. Arsalan Kazemi leads the team, averaging a double double with 17.2 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game. Kazemi is the only player averaging a double double in Conference USA.

“We need to play really well. This is a much improved team than the (Rice) team we saw last year,” said Johnson after the Tigers workout at Tudor Fieldhouse Tuesday. “They are a team we’ve been looking at tape throughout the year and I’m a little shocked and surprised they’ve lost six games. They are very skilled. They pass the ball and shoot it very well. For us it’s a business trip as always. We have to get back to playing good basketball and see where we are at. They (Rice) pass and catch it very well. They shoot it very well. They probably should have beaten North Texas at North Texas. They probably should have beaten Texas at Texas. There’s only been one game that has been out of character for this team and that was when Arizona came in here. There are a lot of games like that happen in non-conference. We just need to go out there and play better.”

Rice leads the overall series, 24-17, but the Tigers have won five of the last six meetings.

LSU forward Dennis Harris, as Coach Johnson mentioned in his post-game press conference Monday night, did not make the trip after his return home was delayed by the winter weather problems on the East Coast. He was expected to arrive late Tuesday afternoon in Baton Rouge.

LSU basketball can be followed on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.