Atlanta's 'Holiday Hoopsgiving' Matches LSU and Wake Forest
BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team hits the road to take part in Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena in Atlanta Saturday afternoon when LSU meets Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The game, the second of four scheduled at the home of the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, is set for a 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. Baton Rouge time) tipoff and will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media flagship Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) with the Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair and former LSU men’s basketball coach John Brady. Mike Morgan and Dane Bradshaw will cover the game for ESPNU.
Other games scheduled for this year’s event include Tulane at Buffalo at 11:30 a.m. EST and the evening session will feature Auburn versus Memphis and Clemson against Illinois-Chicago.
The Tigers are 7-1 coming off back-to-back home wins before this week’s exam period over Wofford (78-75) and UT Arlington, 63-59. In both of those games, LSU was able to step up its defense in winning time in the final minutes to rally to get those victories.
“The guys are finishing up finals this week,” Coach Matt McMahon said at his Thursday media session. “So, we’re getting that done. It’s good to be back on the practice floor after playing our first eight games in a pretty tight window, I think it’s been productive for us and now we are excited for this great opportunity to play at a big-time event on Saturday in Atlanta.”
Wake Forest is 7-2 on the season, having a three-game win streak stopped on Dec. 2 in its ACC opener at Clemson, falling 77-57. The Demon Deacons have a 78-75 win at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge back on Nov. 29.
The teams have split four meetings with LSU winning in November 2021 in the finals of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida, 75-61. LSU also won a neutral court contest in December 1981 in the semifinals of the Sugar Bowl Classic. Wake Forest won both ends of a home-and-home series in 2015 in Baton Rouge and 2016 in Winston-Salem.
Four players score in double figures for Wake Forest with Tyree Appleby averaging 18.3 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds while shooting 43.9 percent from the arc (18 makes). Cameron Hildreth averages 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds, while Daivien Williamson is at 10.9 points and Andrew Carr is at 10.1.
The Demon Deacons average 78.6 points a game while giving up 70.1 points.
“They are a very well coached team. Coach (Steve) Forbes has won a lot of games over the years and does a terrific job with their program,” said Coach McMahon. “They have shot it well from three and take a high volume of shots from three, so the ability to defend the three-point arc will be critical. Tyree Appleby has been one of the electric guards in all of college basketball this season. His 30-point performance at Wisconsin was special. They have great size at the four and five positions and the three position for that matter. Those guys can also step out and shoot the ball from three, which presents some problems as well. They are a really good basketball team. i think it will be a great opportunity for us.”
LSU is led by its duo of Adam Miller (16.9 points, 39.7 percent from three-point range, 25 3PTFGs) and KJ Williams (16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds). Justice Hill is at 9.4 points and 4.0 assists a game. The Tigers are averaging 72.0 points, while giving up just 61.4.
Last year at Holiday Hoopsgiving, LSU rallied from four down at the half to score a 69-53 victory over Georgia Tech.
The Tigers will return home to Baton Rouge after the game and will have three home games prior to a short Christmas break. LSU will host NC Central on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Winthrop on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. before hosting East Tennessee State on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets for those three games are available at LSUTix.net.
LSU will open Southeastern Conference play on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. against Arkansas.