LSU Set To Host Arkansas Looking To Continue Streaks

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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LSU Set To Host Arkansas Looking To Continue Streaks

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers will look to keep several streaks alive when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Most importantly will be trying to remain undefeated in the SEC as the Tigers enter with a 17-3 record and one of two undefeated teams in the league at 7-0 presently. No. 1 ranked Tennessee is also 7-0 on the year.

The No. 19 Tigers will also be trying to extend an 18-game home winning streak that started late in January 2018. The streak is presently tied for second longest in the history of the Maravich Center. A win on Saturday would give this LSU team the possession alone of the second longest streak in the building’s 48 seasons and would be four shy of the all-time longest in the building.

LSU is also looking to extend a 10-game winning streak which is tied for the fourth longest in the nation entering the weekend and tied for the eighth longest in the SEC era at LSU.

Boot Up: Wade the Wizard, Tremont’s Big Shots, and More

Arkansas enters the game 12-8 and 3-4 and is coming off a 70-60 win over Georgia on Tuesday in Fayetteville.

This is the first rematch game LSU will have in which teams play each other twice during the regular season.

In the first game, LSU led by eight, 50-42, at the half only to see the Razorbacks come back and get the game to overtime. Arkansas hit a bucket to open the scoring, but LSU would outscore Arkansas 13-5 the rest of the way to win 94-88 in overtime. That was Coach Will Wade‘s first overtime win at LSU and it snapped a nine-game winless streak for the Tigers in opponent’s arenas.

In that game Naz Reid led LSU with 27 points and Daniel Gafford led Arkansas with 32 as both teams shot over 50 percent for the game.

LSU is coming off a workman-like night at Texas A&M, overpowering the Aggies, 35-21, in the second half to win, 72-57. Tremont Waters had a huge game, scoring 36 points for LSU, hitting six treys and 8-8 at the free throw line.

The Tigers will be on the road on Wednesday at Mississippi State (8 p.m., ESPN2, LSU Sports Radio Network) and will return home for a game next Saturday, Feb. 9, against Auburn.

Next Home Game: Feb. 9 v. Auburn (14-6, 3-4 SEC), 1 p.m. CT | Tickets

Coach Wade met with the media late Thursday and here are some of his comments:

Opening statement…
“I’m very pleased with how we played last night. I thought we played one of our best games, especially on the road. I thought we guarded well. A couple errors in the first half defensively. We gave up five points on baseline inbounds, a little uncharacteristic. We gave away eight points on some silly fouls. We really played well. A lot of people get confused with playing well when your shot goes in. I was fired up because I’ve been telling our team that defense and rebounding travel and we actually guarded and rebounded well. Shots didn’t go in, but we took good shots for the most part. They just didn’t go in. The night Skylar Mays had guarding Wendell Mitchell was just phenomenal. One of the best defensive performances I’ve seen. The offensive performance from Tremont was tremendous. He did a great job. He set the tone for our defense too. I was very, very pleased. I thought that was good progress to win on the road like (that). We slowly squeezed the life out of them in the second half. We didn’t shoot it well, but our defense and rebounding was at a high, high level. Twenty-one offensive rebounds. Days was great. He got in the offensive glass, hit that three. Very, very proud of him.

“We’ve got to turn our attention to Arkansas. It’s the first time we’ve played a team twice in the conference. Arkansas is playing better. They beat Georgia the other night. They played Texas Tech really close on the road. We need to do a better job on (Daniel) Gafford. Gafford killed us. (Mason) Jones played really well in the first game against us. He’s been scoring at a high level. Isaiah Joe is a big time shooter. The point guard (Jalen) Harris is good as well. We’ve got to do a good job corralling Harris, staying out on the shooter. We’ve got to do a good job of not giving Gafford angles. We’ve got to do a much better job with our post defense than we did in the first game.”

On what happened guarding Gafford last time the teams met…
“We just gave him too many angles and he was able to score too many at the rim. Our post D wasn’t very good. We didn’t have a lot of help. We didn’t make him work as hard as we need to make him work.”

On Darius Days‘ eight rebound night in College Station…
“He’s great. He had six offensive rebounds in the first half. Three put backs. Had a fourth put back that rimmed out. Had a big corner three. He brings so much more to us than making shots. I thought we saw that last night. I was really, really happy for him.

“We had 21 offensive rebounds. The downside to that is you’re not making a bunch of shots. I love offensive rebounding. I love getting on the glass. I love how we guarded. I have no problem with how things went last night. I know it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing and people like it when you make shots, but when we defend and we rebound on the road and we hit shots, we’re going to be really good. We can hang in there and give ourselves a chance to win a lot of games when we defend and rebound like that and that’s what I was most pleased with.”

On what can be corrected from the performance at Texas A&M…
“There’s always some stuff to be corrected. The baseline out of bounds defense. We gave up five points in the first half. We gave up eight points on some silly fouls in the back court. We foul way too much 90 feet from the basket. That’s let them back in it. We had a six point lead. We had a great defensive possession and there was five seconds left on the shot clock and then we give up the three on a baseline out of bounds play. We had some confusion on a switch. Those are the things that we’ve got to get corrected. Overall in the second half, we took a lot less threes. We took 18-19 threes in the first half and we took seven in the second half. We pounded the paint. We got the ball inside. We played inside out. Our first basket (in the second half) was the lob that Kavell finished. Tre got fouled and got two free-throws. We had a turkey to start that second half. We imposed our will defensively. I like how that went.”

On how the team absorbs information when they’re having this kind of success…
“They’re open to ideas no matter what. They’ve been very positive. I let them know where we need to make corrections, where we need to make changes. We had a good film session today. We’ll get out there and practice tomorrow and we’ve got to get some things corrected. We beat Arkansas in overtime. We did not play how we needed to play. Arkansas is playing a lot better. They’re growing because that have a young team. Harris the point guard is playing well. Their two shooters played well against Georgia. They went for 23 against us the first time we played and Gafford had 30. We have a lot of stuff we have to get better at.”

On what allowed Skylar Mays to play so well defensively…
“Wendell Mitchell who he was guarding had 22 in the second half against Kansas State. He hit seven threes and had 20+ in against Florida the game before that. He was 1-of-8 for two points last night. You look at the shots, every single one of them was contested. Skylar made him go to his weak hand. Sky did a phenomenal job. One of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen.”

On different guys stepping up each week…
“I think everybody knows that we have a versatile team. We have a team that is based on matchups. Who can win certain matchups? Who can we put in a position to win certain matchups? I think when you have multiple guys like that it makes us a little more difficult to prepare for and a little more difficult to guard.”

On playing a team twice for the first time this season…
“They have more film and we have film going against each other. What worked the first time will not work the second time. We have to make some changes and anticipate some changes they will make. Arkansas is one of those teams that will play differently on the road than at home. We will probably see some more matchup zone. They might not come out and press us as much as they did at home, but maybe they will because they turned us over a lot when they made the run in the second half. This is the first time we have a game against a team we have played twice. We have to take lessons from the first game and from the Texas A&M game.”

On getting into the national conversation…
“We talk about winning today. The more stuff that is going on, the narrower your focus has to be. The bigger the game, the bigger all the stuff, so you have to narrow your focus. We worry about today. We have to do a great job today. We have to do a great job with our recovery, a great job with our film session and a great job with our free throws. We have to lock in and narrow what we are doing. We talk about what we need to do. We will talk tomorrow about what we need to do tomorrow. Then we will turn around on game day and talk about what we need to do on game day. You have to narrow your focus, if you let all of that other stuff seep in, then you are in trouble.”

On Naz struggling from the field…
“I just watched some film with him one on one and I think he is going to be just fine. Last night he was in a slump and he has an open three on the left wing. Two or three weeks ago, he would have probably shot that to shoot himself out of the slump. He shot fakes, drives and goes to the rim to try and dunk. He gets fouled, goes to the line and makes two free throws. That gets him going. He is getting better and he is going to be just fine.”

On progress of Tremont’s game
“It is just learning how to play with the group of guys. I was really proud of him defensively last night. He picked up Starks in the full court and set the tone for our defense. When you have your point guard out there and locked in guarding somebody, those other guys are ready to go. Obviously, he made some shots. I think he is just more mature. He has seen just about every read he can see and he is making plays.”

On sell out at Tennessee game…
“It is great. We appreciate our fans, so hopefully we will have good crowds here. Those weekday games are a little tough, but hopefully we get over 10,000 at the game. We need the students to come. We need these students to be here on Saturday. It makes a huge difference when you look up at the student section and it is packed to the top. If we can get 1,500 to 2,000 students here, it really adds to the atmosphere. Hopefully we can sell out a lot of these weekend games. Hopefully we can get Arkansas, Auburn and Vanderbilt sold out. Our guys have worked hard. When the PMAC is full, it is fun. When the students come, it is a huge advantage for us. We appreciate everybody showing up.”

On fostering team chemistry…
“We have good players and good kids. They are raised right and they are caring people. They all have good hearts and would do anything for each other. We just have good people, there is no other way to put it. I told them ‘we have one shot at this, so we might as well have fun with it and enjoy it.’ You have to win the moment that you are in. Let’s not worry about what is coming or what could happen in the future. Let’s win what we are doing right now. I think that is really important and our guys excited about that.”