Tigers Back on Court Thursday For Tilt with Samford

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Men's Basketball Interviews - Nov. 15 +0
Tigers Back on Court Thursday For Tilt with Samford

BATON ROUGE – The phrase from Coach Will Wade that “we’ve got to get better” even after a 99-59 opening night win over Alcorn State rang through the media room of the practice facility on Wednesday, some 28 hours prior to Thursday night’s home game against Samford in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers and Bulldogs take the court for a 7 p.m. tip on Thursday in a game broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (Chris Blair and former LSU and Samford head coach John Brady) and streamed on the SEC Network + (Lyn Rollins, Garrett Walvoord).

This is the annual food drive donation game and tickets are just $2 for those bringing a can food item for donation. Schedule magnets will be given away on the upper concourse. Students get in free with a valid LSU ID.

LSU is 1-0 and Samford is 1-1 after losing big at Arkansas and then coming back with an 87-68 win over Alabama A&M in Birmingham on Monday. Former Kentucky player and NCAA champion Scott Padgett is in his fourth year as the Samford coach.

Tremont Waters had 27 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals to lead the Tigers in the win over Alcorn, while Duop Reath (11), Wayde Sims (11) and Brandon Sampson (10). Waters was named the SEC Freshman of the Week with the third highest point total in Division I over the first two nights of play.

Samford was led in its win by Wyatt Walker with 14 points, while Alex Thompson and Triston Chambers both added 11 each.

Christen Cunningham, who will be making his 104th consecutive start at point guard for the Bulldogs, had 10 points and four assists in the win.

This will be the fifth time the teams have met, all in Baton Rouge. Samford has one win, and that was when Samford was coached by Brady in 1996. The Bulldogs are coming off a 20-win season that saw them go two rounds in the CIT post-season event a year ago and the media has them picked second in the SoCon this year.

It was announced in the session that senior Aaron Epps could see some limited minutes after missing the opener with a foot injury. Coach Wade said he would like to get him in prior to the team’s trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational which begins on Monday.

Here are some of Coach Wade’s comments prior to Thursday’s game:

Opening Statement…
“Wrapping up Alcorn. I thought we did some good things, played with good energy. We certainly have a lot of detail stuff that we need to improve on. It gets to a point where playing hard is not going to be good enough to cover up a lot of mistakes. You have to play hard. You have to play smart. Tomorrow’s opponent (Samford) is a big step up in class. They are a very good team. They are picked by a lot of people to win the Southern Conference. They can bury us from three, so that is going to be a major concern. We have to do a better job of guarding the three point line and forcing people to miss instead of hoping people miss. Our ball screen coverage is going to have to be better. Our rebounding is going to have to be better. We have to be better on the offensive glass. We have to be better at boxing them out defensively. We have a lot of stuff we needed to get corrected so we can play better tomorrow night against Samford.”

On Aaron Epps
“He has practiced more. He has done almost three quarters of practice yesterday. We hope to have him available for some limited time tomorrow night.”

On if he has ever mixed up defenses like he does now…
“Not as many. Last year we played the matchup zone, the 2-2-1, back to the matchup zone then we would go into man. I have never played this many defenses. Bill Armstrong does the 1-3-1. That is kind of his deal. He has done a really good job with it, they played it at Ole Miss. The matchup zone is my deal. Coach (Greg) Heiar and I do a lot with the man to man defense. Everyone has their own twist in their pressing stuff. I come from a pressing background so we used a lot of those before. I have never played that many, but that is what we are going to have to do this year. Live and learn. You have to fit what is best for each team and this is what works for our guys right now.”

On what he thinks the team got out of playing Alcorn State…
“You have to ask them. I think they thought I would probably be a little bit happier after we won. I think they certainly understand what our standards are, how we want to play, and the level that we need to play with. We have to be more consistent with what we do. I think it was a fairly good first step.”

On Brandon Sampson
“I thought Samp played well. I thought he was very engaged on the bench. I thought he looked like a complete player, somebody who doesn’t just affect the game with his shot. I thought he rebounded the ball well. I thought he had some good defensive rotations. He was alert. I thought he did a nice job.”

On reigning the team in after the win…
“I was excited. I don’t want to take the fun out of winning. That is what you are here to do is win. I was excited on Friday night and Saturday certainly we went to the football game. Sunday it’s back to work. It is like I told our guys yesterday, you can’t throw your shoulder out of socket patting yourself on the back. You have to get back to work. Nobody cares what happens on Friday. Nobody cares that we beat Alcorn. That makes no difference. We have to get better. If we played the same that we played against Alcorn, one it is not going to be good enough against Samford because they are a step up in class, but two we have not gotten any better. If we don’t get better, we aren’t going to be any good. We have to keep moving forward. We can’t worry about what happened in the past. That is great, we did what we are supposed to do. Time to move on.”

On Tremont Waters‘ Scoring Against Alcorn…
“It is about what he did against Texas. Certainly I don’t think that is going to happen every night. I would be a fool to think that. He is a good player.”

On if he expects an even balance of points through the team…
“We had four guys in double figures. We had him (Waters), Sampson, Duop (Reath), and then (Skylar) Mays in double figures. I don’t think he is going to have 27 every night. I don’t think he is going to have 20 plus every night. We are going to have one or two guys every night that can fill it up. We are going to that hot hand, make sure they are getting the looks, and make sure they are getting the shots. I think that is one thing that is good about our team. We have four or five different guys that can step up. There will be nights that Daryl Edwards can bury three or four threes. There will be nights when we get Epps back, that he will be burying threes. (Wayde) Sims creeps into double figures every night. You look at the stat sheet and he has 10 or 12 points. He is kind of lurking around out there. We have a lot of different guys who can score. That is not going to be our problem. I said that the whole time. The problem is going to be stopping people. Scoring points is not going to be an issue most nights.”

On Daryl Edwards
“He is a spark. He is instant offense … He can bury threes and get him going in a hurry. He is a tough kid. He just took that ball from that kid on that 50-50 ball at half court. Like Halloween candy, he said ‘gimme that.’ He just took the ball from them and laid the thing in. He brings a toughness to us, he has a grit to him. He has to get a little bit better on the defensive end, but he has been working hard. He is a guy we certainly have some belief in. There are going to be some nights where he buries four or five threes.”