LSU (2-0) opens play in the 2014 Paradise Jam Friday late afternoon, taking on Old Dominion (2-0) inside the Virgin Islands University Sports and Fitness Center.
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Central Time, and CBS Sports Network will have the live television broadcast.
The Monarchs, now part of Conference USA, rattled off consecutive home wins last week to usher in their 2014-15 campaign. ODU breezed past UNC Wilmington 76-56 before outlasting Richmond 63-57 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers enter Friday’s contest still undefeated thanks to some toughness and a little fortune in a 69-64 home overtime win against Texas Tech earlier this week.
Get ready for today’s game with projected starters, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU coach Johnny Jones on the Monarchs and the opportunities presented by this type of tournament early in the season.
LSU (2-0)PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 16 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.5 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 14.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.5 made 3s
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 19 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.5 apg
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 19.5 ppg, 10 rpg, 1.5 bpg
C Elbert Robinson III (Fr., 7-1, 270) – 1 ppg, 3 rpg, 0.5 apg
Old Dominion (2-0)G Jordan Baker (So., 6-2, 205) – 8 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg
G Aaron Bacote (Jr., 6-4, 186) – 5.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
G Trey Freeman (Jr., 6-2, 175) – 18 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg
F Richard Ross (Sr., 6-6, 236) – 9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1 apg
F Jonathan Arledge (Sr., 6-9, 232) – 12 ppg, 7 rpg
TALK OF CHALK
- Old Dominion, like LSU, has displayed balanced scoring this season and, also similar to the Tigers, the Monarchs are riding a few transfers in the starting lineup. In ODU’s game against Richmond four players scored in double figures, including 12 points apiece from Richard Ross and Jordan Baker, 13 from Freeman (who made all seven of his free throw attempts) and 10 points off the bench from sophomore forward Denzell Taylor (6-7, 226). Freeman transferred in from Campbell University while Jonathan Arledge, who has legitimate post size, played for three seasons at George Mason.
- The Monarchs also don’t lack for muscle on the interior. Included in the regular playing rotation are Ross, Arledge and Taylor, all weighing at least 226 pounds and all 6-foot-6 or taller. That means LSU’s players, with the exception of Elbert Robinson III (who’s still very much in learning mode offensively), will meet some resistance trying to get into the lane and finish. On the other end Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin will also be tested, a la the Gardner-Webb opener, by physical bangers in the paint. It will be interesting to see how Johnny Jones and LSU’s staff counter ODU in this sense. Would stand to reason Mickey, Martin & Co. will have to flex more of their mid-range game.
- Let’s touch base on where LSU stands. After the exhibition game, where Morehouse out-boarded the Tigers by 20, the focus was understandably on rebounding. LSU rectified that for the Gardner-Webb opener, but then the talk was about defending considering G-W went for 82 points. Again, the Tigers successfully worked on that hot-button issue for the Texas Tech game, but LSU also left its outside shot at home, finishing 2-of-19 from three-point range against the Red Raiders. What’s it all mean? That Jones is still bringing a new team together. Six new faces on the team, three new faces in the starting lineup and an offense/defense that’s without the anchor it’s had the past three seasons in Johnny O’Bryant. It’s likely to be one thing if not another for some time for the Tigers in the early going, but tournaments like this represent a great opportunity to iron out the kinks and also play a number of young guys in bigger roles. This is a big weekend for the likes of Jalyn Patterson and Aaron Epps, who will get plenty of time spelling starters given three games in four days are on the docket.
WHAT LSU’S SAYING
- Johnny Jones on giving the team a feel for tournament play
“Old Dominion is a very good basketball team and they are very sound. It will really be a tough challenge for us because they are a seasoned team and defensively we are going to have to be on our best and really guard them.”
- Jones on facing Old Dominion in the opener
“Well it was really great to see our guys fight through some adversity. I loved the way we battled back in the late-game situation and continued to fight. We were able to get the game to overtime and really played well in overtime to outscore Texas Tech, 10-5. I think that says a lot about our guys.”
- Jones on LSU’s toughness late in Texas Tech win