Big efforts from Andre Stringer, Shavon Coleman and Johnny O'Bryant landed LSU back in the winner's circle Tuesday night as the Tigers topped the UC Irvine Anteaters 66-60.
Click on the link below to chart how the game progressed and for stat and quote updates as they're available.
Tigers beat Anteaters 66-60
And here is my preview of tonight's action.
In the middle of a three-game road-trip that started in Idaho and ends in Wisconsin, LSU (6-1) squares off with Big West opponent UC Irvine (5-6) Tuesday night in the Bren Events Center. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. central time.
The Tigers are coming off their first loss of the season – and first of head coach Johnny Jones' career in TigerTown – on Friday night, when the purple and gold were out-gunned by Anthony Drmic (34 points) and Boise State, 89-70.
LSU will try to avenge that defeat by doing something nobody else has done this year – beat Irvine in its own building.
The Anteaters are 3-0 at home in 2012-13, having polishing off Nevada in their season opener 78-64 before feasting off lesser foes Pacific (116-47) and San Diego Christian (94-52).
UC Irvine, under third-year coach Russell Turner, has been more of an enigma away from home. On the one hand the California-based school took No. 13 UCLA to overtime in Pauley Pavilion and won at Fresno State. But, on the other hand, Irvine was smacked down at No. 24 UNLV, 85-57, and dropped two of three – to Sam Houston State and Southern Miss – at the Progressive Legends Classic in Huntsville, Tx.
Turner's Anteaters are strongest on the boards, where UCI ranks fourth in the country with an average of 44.5 rebounds per game. What's interesting is that Irvine manages this feat without a single player pulling down more than 6.4 rebounds a game. It's truly been an effort by committee.
Senior center Adam Folker leads the way with an average of 6.4 rebounds with sophomore forward Will Davis II right behind him at 6.3 rebounds. Three additional players average at least 4.1 boards per game, and five players on top of that average at least 2.0 rebounds per contest.
Irvine approaches scoring in much the same way, with five players averaging 7.3 points or more, but none more than 12.9 points.
Perhaps where the Anteaters are the most vulnerable is at the free throw line, something to which LSU fans can relate. UC Irvine is shooting 62.1% from the charity stripe this season. The Tigers, by comparison, shoot a woeful 56.9%.
Free-throw mess aside, LSU must deal contend with two big factors in tonight's matchup.
First, the Tigers have to prove they can win on the road. After a cushy six-game home-stand to kick-start the campaign (save the SEC/Big East Challenge game against Seton Hall), LSU got a big wake-up call in the land of potatoes when Boise saw Jones' and LSU's up-tempo style and raised them 19 points.
Second, the Bayou Bengals have to find a way to navigate the early portion of the game safely with a new hand likely to start at point guard. Freshman Corban Collins is rumored to be Jones' choice to start tonight after junior Andre Stringer went 1-for-10 from the floor in a start at Boise. Collins does have starting experience, getting the nod against Mississippi Valley State, and is coming off a strong 19-point performance, but he'll have to keep his nerves early to keep LSU in the game.
Of course usual starting point guard Anthony Hickey remains an option, but Jones seems to be content keeping the disciplinary cloud hovering over his sophomore.
Hickey, who's had what can only be described as a troubling start to the season, was indefinitely suspended by Jones on Dec. 7 only to be re-instated last weekend when he made the team trip and played in the second half against Boise State, scoring only three points.
Hickey's suspension may have only lasted a game, but Jones making a declaration that Collins will start gives the impression that the lesson isn't finishing being taught by LSU's first-year head coach.
Something else to monitor tonight for Tiger fans is the range and mobility of transfer senior Charles Carmouche. He had been off to a fine start to the season before tweaking a knee in the team's win over Chattanooga Dec. 11. Carmouche got the start against Boise in LSU's next game, but the New Orleans native struggled, scoring only three points. (He did, however, manage five assists and three steals.) The Tigers will need his influence on both sides of the floor against UC Irvine.
Here are the probable starting lineups for tonight's game.
G Corban Collins (Fr., 6-3, 192) – 5.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.0 apg
G Charles Carmouche (Sr., 6-4, 187) – 8.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 spg
G/F Malik Morgan (Fr., 6-4, 188) – 6.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 spg
F Johnny O'Bryant (So., 6-9, 258) – 13.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 56.7% FG
C Andrew Del Piero (Sr., 7-3, 254) – 4.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg
UC Irvine (5-6)
G Derick Flowers (Sr., 6-0, 178) – 4.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.8 apg
G Daman Starring (Sr., 6-3, 192) – 12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg
G/F Michael Wilder (Sr., 6-2, 213) – 8.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
F Will Davis II (So., 6-8, 210) – 6.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg
C Adam Folker (Sr., 6-9, 225) – 7.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.1% FG
LSU beats UC Irvine 66-60
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