Tigers, Rebels Meet in SEC Basketball Saturday, 11 a.m.

50th Anniversary of Pete Maravich Breaking Scoring Record To Be Honored

by Kent Lowe | Sr. Assoc. Communications Director
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Tigers, Rebels Meet in SEC Basketball Saturday, 11 a.m.

BATON ROUGE – The 2020 LSU Tigers will try to take another step forward in the Southeastern Conference journey on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. when they host Ole Miss in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. 

While the focus is on the present, the past will also be remembered as it is “Alumni Weekend” and former basketball stars from the 1950s forward are expected to be on hand. 

Also, it is 50 years and one day since Pistol Pete Maravich set one of college basketball’s most remarkable records – the NCAA career scoring mark. He passed Oscar Robertson’s mark of 2,973 set in 1960 at Cincinnati in a game against Ole Miss played on Jan. 31, 1970 at the John Parker Ag Center (known as “The Cow Palace”) in Baton Rouge. 

Maravich would go on to score 3,667 points in three years, a mark no player has yet to get within 400 points of in the last 50 years. 

There will be recognitions of the Maravich career throughout the game and all former players will be honored on court at halftime with a special presentation for the Maravich family.

Saturday’s game will be televised by ESPN2 with Paul Sunderland and Jimmy Dykes on the call on television and the “Voice of the Tigers” Chris Blair and former coach John Brady will be courtside on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media BR flagship Eagle 98.1 FM).

Tickets are available online at LSUTix.net and beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the upper concourse ticket windows of the Maravich Center. LSU Students are admitted free of charge. 

LSU is 16-4 overall and ranked No. 22 in the AP poll. LSU is 7-0 in the SEC, the same start the Tigers had a year ago before falling at home to Arkansas. Ole Miss is 10-10 on the season and 1-6 on the year, coming in off an 83-82 loss in double overtime at home to Auburn.

The two teams met just two weeks ago with LSU scoring an 80-76 victory in Oxford at The Pavilion. 

Javonte Smart had 20 points to lead LSU while Emmitt Williams had 17 points, Skylar Mays 15 and Marlon Taylor 13. Ole Miss standout Breein Tyree scored a career-high 36 points in the first matchup against LSU.

This will be the last home game for the Tigers for over a week as they will be on the road next week for games at Vanderbilt and at Auburn. LSU returns home on Feb. 11 against Missouri. 

Coach Wade met with the media earlier Friday and here are some of his comments: 

LSU Basketball Press Conference 
January 31, 2020

LSU Head Coach Will Wade

Opening statement…
“Big weekend. Gymnastics gets it started tonight with Alabama. Quick turnaround. Hopefully everybody gets a good night’s rest. We play (Saturday) at 11 against Mississippi and the women end it on Sunday with a huge game against Texas A&M. Obviously, as it pertains to us, we have our alumni weekend. We have a lot of former players back. We’ve got to spend time with a lot of our former players. We have the Maravich ceremony for him breaking the NCAA scoring mark. It’s kind of a natural fit that we have the alumni weekend with the Maravich mark of breaking the scoring record. Pretty good weekend for LSU athletics, particularly at home.

“As it relates to our team. We’ve got to focus in on Mississippi. We’ve got to play better than we did there. They’re playing well. They played well to win at Georgia. They played really well against Auburn. They’re tough. They’re physical defensively. I though at their place, they knocked us off our cuts. They did a great job being more physical than we were, especially early in the game. We were running offense out past the NBA three-point line. We’ve got to do a better job cutting hard, being cleaner with the ball. We had way too many turnovers and we obviously have to do a way better job on (Breein) Tyree. (Bryce) Williams, their other guard who I know coach (Kermit) Davis and their staff is really high on, he’s played well the last couple of games at Georgia and he played well against Auburn as well. (Blake) Hinson has been on a tear lately. We’ve got to do a good job on him and (Devontae) Shuler had one of his best games in the Auburn game. We’ve got to do a great job on Tyree – obviously a much better job than we did last time. I think he had a career high on us. But we can’t lose sight of some of their other guys. Their other guys are playing better. Their other guys have gained some confidence so we have to do a better job on some of those other guys as well.”

On what Breein Tyree did last time LSU faced Ole Miss to be successful…
“He had 13 points before we ended warmups. We lost him in transition a couple times. He made some tough ones. He made a tough one off a pin down, we should have switched down. They ran the same play against us about a dozen times. He scored on it quite a bit or he screened on it to get their big guys open. They ran it first play of the game against us last time. We’ve got to do a better job guarding that, guard some cross-screen actions. We’ve got to do a better job having an awareness on Tyree and then we’ve got to carry out our game plan a little better than we did the first time.”

On building on the performance against Alabama from Wednesday night…
“Well we need to. We’ve got to keep building. Obviously what you’ve done in the past, nobody cares about. Going back and reviewing film, there’s still a lot of things we need to improve upon. A lot of areas where we can get better. I thought we played better than we’ve played in a while. Maybe not our best game, but we played better than we did in a while. We’ve got to continue that trend and so this is the next game. This is a new challenge. This is the first time we’ve played somebody for a second time. It’s always challenging. I think Mississippi has done a great job, kind of like I talked to you guys when we played Mississippi State how I thought Coach Howland was going to come in here and slow the game down. They had been playing with too many possessions in their losses before us. I think Coach Davis is going to do the same thing. They’ve been playing a lot slower. The defense is really, really good, but they’ve been controlling things with their offense. Their sets take a while to run. They run longer sets. I think he’s going to come in here and try to slow the game down and frustrate us by having to guard them for long periods of time. This is a different challenge than maybe than we faced against Alabama. Alabama wanted to play fast. We kind of had to slow it down to keep it on our terms a little bit. Mississippi is going to bring it in here and slow the pace down a little bit. If you look what they’ve done the last couple of games, their possessions are down three or four offensive possessions a game. You look at how they – you know they swept Auburn last year, they won at the road against Auburn and they slowed the game. Down. Kind of look at how they’ve won their road games – it’s been possession based games. It’s a totally different game for us and a totally different challenge for us and hopefully we can rise up to this challenge like we did against Alabama.”

On facing a team twice for the first time this season…
“I think it’s important. It’s the first time we have one of these round twos. It just so happens it was only two weeks ago so they’ve only played three games since we played them and we’ve only played three games since playing them. We’ve talked to the team about that. If we want to be a contender in the league and we want to be a good team we’re going to have to learn our lessons from the first game. Not necessarily from what the scoreboard said, but the lessons we take away from that game. We’re going to have to be better and perform better in the second game because they’re going to come in here with confidence. Why shouldn’t’ they. They had a big lead on us at one point. We had a big lead on them and they were able to cut into that. With six minutes to go in the game they were up six. Tyree got an open transition three at the back end of our press and buried it from the left wing. They’re going to be confident.”

On trying to limit Darius Days’ fouls…
“Sometimes the more you talk about it the worse it gets. I had a little chat with him yesterday. Real quick, kind of informal. I don’t want to do anything formal with it. It’s a thin line. You don’t want to take away his aggressiveness, but we’ve got to keep him on the floor. That was disappointing the other night because he was getting ready to go for a big night. When he hits the first two shots like that his eyes get big and the rim looks huge and he could hit five or six of them. We’ll manage that. You don’t want to get overbearing with it. He’s only been in fouls trouble two SEC games – maybe three out of the seven. It’s a little less than half. It’s not like it’s a huge, huge issue. But there is a foul or two a game that he does pick up that he can avoid. Quite frankly some of his fouls he’s got to – the way I approached it with him was more about, if you’re going to fouls somebody, foul them. If you’re not going to foul them, then legally guard them and let’s square them up. Let’s not do in-between where you try not to foul and then foul. That’s what we have a lot of with him is in-between. If you’re going to foul them, foul them, that’s fine. Get your money’s worth on the foul. But if you’re not, let’s be a little more pragmatic about how we’re doing it and square them out and have a legal shield.”

On Trendon Watford’s recent play …
“He’s played great, you talk about one of Trendon’s (Watford) best plays nobody probably remembers it.  In the Alabama game he hit (Darius) Days on a cut in the first half and it was as good of a pass that you will see.  That’s a pass that probably would have been a turnover six weeks ago and that just shows Trendon’s growth. He’s getting used to the pace, where the defender’s hands are, and he’s getting more comfortable with things.  I think he’s getting more aggressive offensively; he’s using his shot fake, his body down low, doing a great job distributing and looking for other guys.  People are keying in on him now so that’s going to open him up to pass a little bit more and do some other things.  His growth has kind of mirrored the growth of our team.  If you think about it, he played really well against Southern California and as he’s begun to play at a higher level for us, I think our team followed suit.”  

On Coach Wade’s success in the SEC during his tenure at LSU …
“I don’t really look at it like that, every game is a three-day season.  If we try to put everything, we got into every game then whatever happens, happens.  You have a different team everyday based on moods and what’s going on.  You have to adjust and be practical but still be within the framework of what you do.  I don’t look at it like we’ve had all of these SEC games, we got to focus on Ole Miss on Saturday, Sunday we will re-ride the Ole Miss game, then get ready for the next one on Wednesday.  You just look at as mini seasons, every game is like a three-day mini season.  You have to put everything you got into that three-day season and see what the result is.  We have been fortunate; we’ve had some good players and good breaks.  You get excited, every game is a new challenge, you come off of a game against Alabama and now you have to correct that.  Quite frankly that Arkansas game last year was on me, we had beaten them three straight times, so I relaxed a little bit.  We had used the same game plan all three times because it kept working.  I watched the Arkansas game and dusted off the same game plan we had used.  They changed some things and it caught us off guard.  We can sit here and blame the players but that was my fault.  If I relax on three to five percent of what’s going on, there’s going to be two or three details that get left out.  You lose to Arkansas by a basket at home, that’s the difference. Every game is a challenge and you can’t cheat it.  

“They always laugh at me, I’m like an airplane pilot; I got a checklist for every game.  Going through the checklist you have do every single thing on there.  Make sure your baseline out of bounds is sharp, make sure your sideline out of bounds is sharp, put in two or three wrinkles where you can get two or three baskets that you aren’t expecting.  You have to do that every single game and if you ever cheat that you won’t win in this league.  There are some things that I have to change for the Mississippi game; they’re two or three things I didn’t like. They have used their 1-3-1 more, they have used their 2-3 zone more which they didn’t play against us.  It’s invigorating to me; everything is a challenge.  There is always a problem and you have maneuver your pieces to solve the problem.  I enjoy, my staff enjoys it and they do an unbelievable job in preparation.  Whether it’s the scout coach or the coach who is assigned to late game stuff, everyone does their job.  Is it tough when you are up at 4:30 a.m. pouring through film looking through minute details, yea it is.  If we can get an extra basket because of it then it’s worth it.  We enjoy it, its’ fun, and it beats a real job.”

On Pete Maravich’s legacy at LSU…
“I went to Clemson, so his dad was at Clemson. I actually student taught at the high school he went to. When you get to LSU, there have been a lot of great players here. You look at Bob Pettit, Shaq and Pete Maravich. We have had three of the top 50 players all-time. It is part of our tradition. We have a storied tradition. We have won the second most SEC titles to Kentucky. We have had very good players that have set the tone for what we are trying to do. We always tell our players ‘Drink from the well, but don’t forget who dug it.’ We have had a lot of really good players that have put a lot of hard work into making sure this program is on solid footing. It is our job to keep that moving.”

On Pete Maravich’s approach to the game…
“I wish we had someone that could score 44 a game. I feel safe saying this, it is a record that will never be broken because anybody good enough to start and play as a freshman is not going to be here as a senior anymore. That is just the way it goes with the way college basketball is now. It is a record that will go down in history. It will be something LSU is a part of history for forever. I don’t see any way it ever gets broken. Just a phenomenal player and talent that is a really good piece to our program.”

On talking to players about the history of the program…
“We talk about as a team, you want to be special. We have a lot of things on the table with this team. We want to be a consistent program. We want to be a program that consistently competes at the top of this league. We have a lot of things out there in front of us over the next five weeks where we can do some special things. There are a lot of other pieces involved. You have to be special in everything you do. You have to eat special, you have to recover special. There are all sorts of other things that go into it. We talk to our guys about that every day. If you do what everybody else is doing, you are going to get the same results everybody else gets. You have to be different. You have to do things different and do stuff with more attention to detail. You have to do stuff with more discipline. I tell people all the time, we don’t do anything that crazy, we are just a little more disciplined than most people. We are more disciplined with our routine and we are more disciplined with our accountability and how we do things. Nothing we do is overly complicated or special.”

On Trendon Watford’s rebounding…
“He is being more aggressive to go and get the ball. Some of the two-handed rebounds he had in the Alabama game were big time rebounds. He is being more aggressive to get the ball. You have to snatch that thing with two hands. In the Southeastern Conference, one-handed rebounding does not work. You have to go get it with two and you may get hit in the ribs or get popped a little bit. He’s a great rebounder and rebounding translates. He is the all-time leading rebounder in Alabama high school history, so he’s going to be a very good rebounder for us. When he plays at the next level in the NBA, he is going to be a great rebounder at that level too. He just has a knack for the ball. He has a nose for the ball. He is always around the ball both offensively and defensively. One thing I love about his defensive rebounding is that when he gets the rebound, we can start the break because he can bring the ball up and either drive it in and finish or initiate what we are doing. He gets the ball to a scoring area very quickly. I think the main thing with him is he is just going after more. You are going to get more when you go after more. It is very simple, but you have to get people to go after them. That is what we do. There is nothing crazy about our offensive rebounding, we just go. It’s charted, you go 80 percent of the time or you don’t. If you go, the ball is going to find you every once in a while. That is what has happened with Trendon. A big credit to him for adjusting and understanding.”