Tigers look to get back on track

After first loss of the season, LSU tangles with Northwestern at the Charleston Classic

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The LSU men look to improve on the deficiencies that hurt them Tuesday night at Coastal Carolina when they begin play Thursday in the first round of the Charleston Classic at the TD Arena.

 

LSU (1-1) meets Northwestern (1-0) at 2 p.m. in the second game of the four-game first day of the event hosted by ESPN and the Southern Conference.

 

The other first-round matchups are Tulsa against Western Kentucky, VCU vs. Seton Hall and Georgia Tech vs. St. Joseph’s.

 

LSU will play either Tulsa or Western Kentucky in the second day of tournament action at either noon or 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The tournament will take Saturday off and then conclude with four more games on Sunday.

 

The Tigers had two practice sessions Wednesday in Charleston on the heels of a 71-63 loss to Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers outrebounded LSU 53-34, 19-11 on the offensive boards which led to a 19-12 second-chance points.

 

“Going into Thursday, the No. 1 priority is to block out, to put a body on someone and rebound,” Tigers coach Trent Johnson said. “Everybody has a responsibility. Everyone has a role from a defensive standpoint, and that’s always to play with a level of intensity. So that was what was very surprising in terms of what happened (Tuesday) night vs. Coastal Carolina. That’s the No. 1 thing.

 

“Then we are going to have to sustain a level of defensive intensity, but also stay disciplined because Northwestern is a very experienced basketball team. Having faces two of (Northwestern coach) Bill Carmody’s teams in the past at Stanford when we were successful in beating them, they really test your defensive principles. We had a lot of plays (Tuesday) where we had guys get frustrated and started to gamble, not stay solid and sound on defense and that hurt us.”

 

Northwestern was a 60-36 winner in its opener Sunday night against Texas-Pan American to open Carmody’s 12th season. The Wildcats limited the Broncs to 29.8 percent shooting from the field while forcing 16 turnovers. Senior forward John Shurna led Northwestern with 15 points, while Luka Mirkovic and Drew Crawford were also in double figures with 12 and 11. The Wildcats have nine members of their roster that are juniors and seniors.

 

“They are very experienced, and they pass and catch very well,” Johnson said. “They have post guys who handle it on the perimeter with passing and catching and getting you to over extend and gamble and then they’ll back-cut you. Usually the teams that have success against this type of offense are those teams that are really sound defensively.”

 

Senior forward Storm Warren had his seventh straight double-figure scoring game dating back to last year with 14 points, just missing a double-double with 9 rebounds, while Ralston Turner had 12 second-half points on the way to a team-high 15 points. Hamilton and Johnny O’Bryant III off the bench each had 9 points.

 

“Again, for us it’s about understanding,” Johnson said. “We just came off a game where we broke down completely from a defensive standpoint rebounding the ball. We got out-rebounded 19 and we forced them to make 18 turnovers and still had an opportunity to win the game.

"It’s early so we’ve got to see how we are going to respond in coming back out and competing at a high level. We didn’t make some shots and that really hurt us and then we forgot you’ve got to go to the other end and defend. So the bottom line is we’ve just have to do what we’ve been practicing, do what we’ve been taught and that is to play good solid sound basketball and defensively everybody do their job and we should be okay.”


CHALK TALK

LSU (1-1)
Starters

G Anthony Hickey (5-11, 182, Fr.)
G Andre Stringer (5-9, 178, So.)
G Ralston Turner (6-6, 205, So.)
F Storm Warren (6-7, 230, Sr.)
C Justin Hamilton (7-0, 260, Jr.)
Key reserves
F Malcolm White (6-9, 220, Sr.)
G Chris Bass (6-1, 190, Sr.)
F Eddie Ludwig (6-9, 210, Jr.)
F Jalen Courtney (6-8, 228, So.)
F Johnny O'Bryant (6-9, 262, Fr.)
Coach: Trent Johnson (50-50, fourth season at LSU; 209-171, 13th season)

Northwestern (1-0)
Starters

G Dave Sobolewski (6-1, 185, Fr.)
G Tre Demps (6-4, 195, Fr.)
G Reggie Hearn (6-4, 210, Jr.)
F John Shurna (6-8, 220, Sr.)
C Luka Mirkovic (6-11, 245, Sr.)
Key reserves
F Drew Crawford (6-5, 205, Jr.)
G Jershon Cobb (6-5, 200, So.)
G Alex Marcotulio (6-3, 185, Jr.)
Coach: Bill Carmody (161-177, 12th season at Northwestern; 253-202, 16th season)

Up next: LSU takes on either Tulsa or Western Kentucky at noon or 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Of note
  • Stringer is slated to start his 33rd consecutive game, the longest current streak for the Tigers.

  • O'Bryant logged only 13 minutes against Coastal Carolina before fouling out.

  • In two games, freshmen have accounted for 53 of LSU's 159 points.

  • LSU and Northwestern have played three times with the Wildcats holding a 2-1 edge. The last time they met was in 1965.

  • The Wildcats are coming off a third consecutive postseason appearance and 20-victory seasons the last two years.

  • Northwestern returned nine lettermen and four starters from a team that advanced to the NIT quarterfinals. That equates to 73.8% of the Wildcats' scoring from last season.

  • Shurna averaged 16.6 points and 4.9 rebounds a game last season and is averaging 14.2 points a contest in his 98-game career. Shurna has scored 1,392 points, 508 behind the program's all-time leader, Billy McKinney.

  • The Wildcats were 18-1 last season when they scored 70 points or more, 2-13 when they did not.

  • Playing an offense predicated on screens and backcuts, Northwestern averaged a Big Ten-best 16.7 assists last season.


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