LSU (1-0) will play host to Texas Tech (1-0) Tuesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in the finale of the 2014 ESPN Tipoff Marathon. The late-night affair will begin at 8:30 p.m. and ESPN2 will have the live television broadcast.
The Red Raiders, in year two of the Tubby Smith era, arrive in Baton Rouge fresh off a 71-59 come-from-behind home win over Loyola Maryland on Friday. Texas Tech went 14-18 overall, 6-12 in the Big 12 last season.
In last year’s first leg of the home-and-home series, LSU eked out a 71-69 win, on the strength of a combined 55 points from Anthony Hickey, Johnny O’Bryant, Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman, none of whom suit up for the purple and gold anymore.
Get ready for tonight’s game with projected starters (and stats from each team’s opener), matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the Red Raiders.
LSU (1-0)PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 18 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 17 ppg, 7 rpg, 4 apg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 21 ppg, 11 rpg, 5 TOpg
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 21 ppg, 6 rpg, 6 apg
C Elbert Robinson III (Fr., 7-1, 270) – 5 rpg, 1 apg
Texas Tech (1-0)G Robert Turner (Sr., 6-3, 190) – 7 ppg, 1 rpg, 3 apg
G Randy Onwuasor (So., 6-3, 205) – 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg
G/F Justin Gray (Fr., 6-6, 210) – 2 ppg, 3 rpg
F Zach Smith (Fr., 6-8, 205) – 5 rpg, 1 apg, 4 bpg
F Norense Odiase (Fr., 6-9, 270) – 16 ppg, 10 rpg, 3 bpg
TALK OF CHALK
- For the first time in program history the Red Raiders trotted out three freshmen starters to open a season when they hosted and defeated Loyola Maryland on Friday. Norense Odiase, a native of Crowley, Tex., made the biggest splash, registering a double-double and blocking three shots in 27 minutes. He’s also a consistent shooter from the charity stripe, knocking down 6-of-8 attempts. Given the way LSU’s interior players defended on Saturday, Odiase will be the Tigers’ biggest focus with his size and skill set. Expect Elbert Robinson to get the start on him, but it wouldn’t surprise if LSU went to some occasional 2-3 zone with Big Elbert in the middle. That helped in the second half against Gardner-Webb.
- Two non-starters who will factor in heavily for TTU: redshirt junior Toddrick Gotcher and JuCo transfer Devaugntah Williams, both perimeter players and both listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. Gotcher is the team’s second leading returning scorer from a season ago and has made 31 starts in his Red Raider career. He scored 10 points and dished out three assists in the opener. Williams, who posted averages of 17.8 points and 2.6 assists while at Missouri State-West Plains last season, can score in bunches off the bench. He scored 13 points in that role versus Loyola Maryland.
- Only two times in 34 games last season did Jordan Mickey fail to register a block – versus St. Joseph’s in Orlando and against Georgia at home in March. (In fact of the remaining 32 games he had only one block five times.) Well, it happened in the Tigers’ opener Saturday, shockingly, as freshman Aaron Epps tallied all three of LSU’s rejections. It was a far cry from the 13 swats in the Morehouse exhibition win, and Mickey’s absence was easily the most conspicuous. LSU needs him erasing shots from the back side to make their post defense appear to have some teeth. Johnny Jones made no secret of this after the opener, and as such, I expect Mickey to be more motivated and productive on that end tonight.
- The point guard matchup of Robert Turner versus Josh Gray should be an entertaining one. Gray, taking on his former team, showed great poise and control over the offense on Saturday, making 7-of-11 shots (including both of his three-point attempts) and dishing out three assists in 32 minutes. He can still be much more aggressive as a scorer should LSU need it via foul trouble or an off-night for others, but it was good to see him assuming the role of floor general. Turner is TTU’s leading returning scorer from 2013-14 and as a senior is one of the most veteran presences on his team. It’s doubtful he’ll be able to stay in front of the electric Gray consistently, but Turner has the capability to offset some of Gray’s scoring.
- Finally, and this is for the sake of setting an expectation level for this game, consider that the Red Raiders are replacing 64 percent of their scoring from last season, a campaign that ended below .500 for Tubby Smith’s squad. This is not projected to be a top-half team in the Big 12 nor is there enough experience to where TTU should legitimately challenge LSU in the PMAC. Texas Tech is likely the third or fourth best non-conference opponent on the Tigers’ slate, one which isn’t terribly strong prior to Southeastern Conference play.
WHAT LSU’S SAYING
- Johnny Jones on TTU, playing four games in seven days
“The big thing they have is their guard players returning from last year. They had good, solid guard play. They are extremely tough, and I thought that’s where a lot of their strengths were last year . . . I think their guards are really good, and the guys are going to have to do a great job in containing and trying to make sure that we keep them out of the paint and not give them any easy looks at the basket and get going from outside.”
- Jones on TTU’s perimeter play as a strength
“They did not do a great job one-on-one in their defending in the post. Jordan Mickey, we are not asking for him to foul, but as much as they scored inside, we never got into a foul count. I don’t think they ever got into the one-on-one. I think we had eight fouls as a team, and that means that we weren’t as aggressive as we should have been, possibly trying to deter them from getting easy scoring opportunities at the basket.”
- Jones on interior defending, Mickey’s role