LSU Gold

Tigers Return to Court Tuesday Against SHSU

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Tigers Return to Court Tuesday Against SHSU

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team wants to get back on the floor of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and wipe away the taste of Saturday’s 83-82 loss to Stephen F. Austin and the chance comes on Tuesday night when they host another Southland Conference team in Sam Houston State.

SHS comes in with a 6-5 record after downing Little Rock, 57-55, on Dec. 15 in Huntsville, Texas, rallying from a four-point halftime deficit. Leading the way for the Bearkats is Chris Galbreath, Jr., who in 11 games is averaging 16.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. He will be the focus for the Tigers defensively, while also not letting his teammates have big games around him.

LSU is 6-3 with two final games before Christmas break on Tuesday against SHS and then Friday against North Florida. Coach Will Wade is still looking to find the perfect combinations and has hinted there will be some changes as he looks to find some of those combinations that will help in SEC play. He also will be looking for the players that after a win that moves the team forward can keep the team from moving back in the very next game.

The game is set for 7 p.m. at the Maravich Center and tickets are available at the LSU Athletics Ticket office and at all day Tuesday before the ticket windows open at 5:30 p.m. at the Maravich Center box office on the upper concourse.

The Christmas Wadecation gift is a snow globe for the first 2,000 fans and the game is also a chance for fans to help out with donations for Toys For Toys as fans can get free admission to the game with a donation of a new unwrapped toy at the upper concourse ticket windows.

The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and video streamed on the SEC Network + through the ESPN app.

Coach Wade met with the media on Monday and here are some of the comments from the session:

Opening Statement …
“Turn the page quickly. Get ready for Sam Houston, a very good defensive ball club. Top 20 in field goal percentage on defense. 14th in the country in scoring defense. 57th in the country in rebounding margin so it is going to be a little bit tougher sledding for us offensively. There is going to be quite a bit of resistance. We need to run good offense, get the ball inside, play inside out and do a good job on (Christopher) Galbreath (Jr.), their big kid. Their big kid is phenomenal. He would start for us if he played for us. It He had 24 (points) and 10 (rebounds) on Baylor and 22 (points) and nine (rebounds) on Ole Miss. We have to do a good job on him and do a good job of taking away their periphery guys as well because we have done a bang-up job this year on letting some of the guys who are maybe role players on other teams beat us. We can’t just concentrate on him, we have to do a good job on some of the other guys as well. It will be a good challenge for us.”

On if Aaron Epps needed encouragement after the game against Stephen F. Austin …
“We did not lose the game because Aaron Epps missed a layup. You guys can all print that. We didn’t deserve to win the game. There were 16 50/50 balls in that game and they got 12 of the 16 and that allowed them to score 20 points. If we just get half of those, we win the game comfortably. Aaron Epps has done a phenomenal job for us this year. Aaron Epps has done a tremendous job for us this year. Aaron Epps is going to make a lot of winning plays for us, just like he did against Houston. (Epps) missing that layup had nothing to do with us losing. We lost that game well before that layup. I will take Aaron Epps shooting that shot every day. I have certainly talked to him, conveyed to him my thoughts. He played his heart out for us. He played extremely well in back-to-back games and I think he is going to continue to play well. We lost that game for a lot of other reasons and a lot of other stuff that doesn’t meet the naked eye as much as obviously missing something like that at the end of the game does. There were many other reasons we lost that game.”

On if the loss to Stephen F. Austin is similar to the loss against Notre Dame …
“I would say it is similar in the fact we lost after a big win. For whatever reason we struggle with prosperity a little bit. I can’t put my finger on it. If I could I would stop it from happening. I could sense things were a little bit off, we just didn’t have enough time to turn it around. I made some mistakes in our preparation. I should have gone a little bit harder, try not to save legs that sort of thing. I made some mistakes in our preparation which probably led to us playing soft. Give them credit. Stephen F. Austin played with an edge. They played tough, they expect to win. That was their 57th road win which is second in the country only to Wichita State over that time frame (since 2011-12). They are a good program. It was a combination of things that led to us getting beat, but that certainly contributed to it.”

On the team not being vocal on the court being the problem on defense …
“I think that is part of it. We actually guarded them much better in the second half. You have to be pretty bad defensively to shoot 63 percent from the field and 63 percent from three, and be down at halftime. You have to be really bad defensively to do that. That is what we did. I think we were 80 percent from the free throw line if I am not mistaken. In the second half we held them to 35 points we just couldn’t get loose balls. That is what ultimately did us in. Tremont (Waters) had 17 deflections in the second half by himself. Our game goal is 40 (deflections per game). We had 37 for the game. He had 17 of 37 by himself in the second half. He was active defensively we just didn’t have enough other guys that were active with him. In the second half he was active defensively.”

On how to get the team to set the terms of engagement …
“I think it is our preparation. The first play of the game we make a huge scouting report error and foul the guy. (Leon) Gilmore, left hand, shot fake, drive left. We jump out of the gym at the shot fake. He hardly makes any threes. We jump out of the gym at the shot fake and we let him drive right in there with his left hand and we foul him. That is a major breakdown. That is the first play of the game on a simple scouting error. That set the tone. Then we try to inbound the ball, the ball goes off of them, they are out there aggressive, and we are just on our heels. They set the tone early and we just couldn’t adjust.”

On the team lacking toughness against Stephen F. Austin …
“We have it in us. That is what is so frustrating. We played with some toughness against Houston. Every team is not consistent and has some swings. Our swings are from here to here (puts hands way apart). Most teams swings are from here to here (puts hands closer together). There is such a gap between when we play well and when we play terribly. There is a huge gap. If we just had a minor swing and just got a couple of those toughness plays, we win the game. We missed seven layups that I would consider point blank easy layups. We have been pretty good at that all year. I think there may be some other factors involved in a few of those. When you miss seven layups, give up 30 points on scouting errors, and you get beat on those toughness plays that is a recipe for losing.”

On what position would be best to have an enforcer on the team …
“You would like it to be at your three or your four spot, if you could find one. Mine at VCU was a three/four kid, Jordan Burgess. He would do whatever he had to do to win a ball game. He didn’t care. Two years ago we won a game at Saint Joseph where he played with a broken finger… We have to go find somebody like that. We have to have somebody like that. If you don’t have somebody like that, then you have no personality to what you are doing. We have to get a rugged, tough personality. To our guys credit we can pull it out of them when we need to, or when they think it is important. If you don’t live that way every day, it is pretty tough to be that way every day. We can pull it out for Houston. We tried to warn them how good Stephen F. Austin was. For whatever reason the message didn’t get through.”

On Tremont Waters‘ maturity …
“He is the best. Mature, wise beyond his years however you want to put it. He is the best. We are riding with him. He makes mistakes, but he usually makes up for them and makes big plays. He made a three to put us ahead. There is not coaching involved in that, it is just having a really good player make a really big shot. We are going to trust him and he has a good pulse on things. The guys respect him because he is so good. They like being around him because he is a really, really good person. You guys (media) can tell when you are around him. Just a good person.”