The Tigers’ opponent, Massachusetts (5-2), eked out a 92-90 win over LSU in Amherst in last season’s opener. They’ll renew acquaintances tonight in Baton Rouge, with tipoff set for 6 p.m. and the live television broadcast airing on the SEC Network.
The Minutemen, led by senior center Cady Lalanne, have played a tougher schedule than LSU so far this season. Head coach Derek Kellogg’s troops lost a heartbreaker at Harvard Saturday (75-73) and also tripped up against Notre Dame, but UMass does own wins over Boston College and Florida State.
Get ready for tonight’s game with projected starters, matchup and personnel talk as well as quotes from LSU players and Coach Johnny Jones on the Minutemen.
LSU (4-2)PG Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 183) – 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.5 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.5 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.5 apg
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 17.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.8 apg
F/C John Odo (Sr., 6-10, 245) – 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Massachusetts (5-2)G Trey Davis (Jr., 6-0, 185) – 11.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg
G Derrick Gordon (Jr., 6-3, 205) – 13.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.3 apg
F Seth Berger (So., 6-7, 210) – 2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.4 spg
F Maxie Esho (Sr., 6-8, 215) – 13.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 spg
C Cady Lalanne (Sr., 6-10, 253) – 14.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg
- In the majority of games LSU plays this season, it will have the best frontcourt player on the floor in either Jarell Martin or Jordan Mickey (who will play tonight after missing Saturday's win over McNeese State with an ankle injury). That may not be the case tonight with Cady Lalanne in town. The 6-foot-10 senior is a wrecking ball in the paint. His averages this season speak for themselves. In 2013-14, as a junior, Lalanne averaged 11.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. He scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds against LSU last season, and that was with Johnny O’Bryant and his size helping defensively. The Tigers won’t have that luxury tonight. There’s nothing finesse about Lalanne’s game, and it will be very interesting to see who matches up on him tonight and how effective they are. Post defending has been a major weakness for LSU this season.
TALK OF CHALK
- With the exception of Lalanne, who likes to park it inside, tonight’s game should be free-flowing and could see both teams go above 75 points. The Minutemen average 76.9 points this season while the Tigers average 73.2 points. Both teams also shoot 45.0% or higher from the field. Transition buckets and close-to-midrange shots in halfcourt sets will likely be the name of the game as neither team shoots it well from outside. LSU makes 25.5% of its threes compared to 28.7% shooting from deep by UMass.
- It’s been a noteworthy topic of late to say the least, but the Tigers need to find a way to get Josh Gray more involved and being the attacker offensively. Here are Gray’s scoring totals since dropping 32 points in LSU’s first two games: 8, 4, 7, 13. This coming from a player who averaged 34.7 points on the JuCo level last season. LSU needs him aggressive, particularly in this game where one of the biggest objectives on that end of the floor should be getting Lalanne in foul trouble. He’s susceptible to it because of all the blocks he goes for (Lalanne actually fouled out of the LSU-UMass game last season). More points for Gray and dish-offs in the lane could ignite a Tiger team that is still settling too much for outside jumpers.
“We’re hopeful that we’re (ready to play) at a fast pace on Tuesday against a team that we played last year at their place and had a two-point setback. We look forward to a great challenge against a (UMass) team that has four guys averaging double figure scoring. They have a really good post player in the lane. Their guards have done a tremendous job on the perimeter of making baskets and getting up the floor in and play a fast-paced basketball game. It’s one of the reasons we’re looking forward to getting in with these guys.”
WHAT LSU’S SAYING
- Johnny Jones on makeup of this UMass team
“Both teams like to get out there and run quick. I think when the opportunity presents itself, both teams will take advantage of it. They’ll get the ball up the floor and try to score quickly before the defense is set. Both teams will also try and press at times so I see a lot of similarities.”
- Jones on similarities between LSU, UMass
"They're an extremely athletic team. They're fast-paced and they have an extremely good big man inside. They like to get the ball down the court and they can shoot the ball well. It will be a great game for us."
- Jordan Mickey on his recollections of UMass
“I remember a lot. It was my first college game. It was a big game for me coming out the gate. I remember us down the stretch, we didn’t make the plays we needed to win and we ended up losing by two. We’re just trying to put another big effort in for (tonight’s) game.”
- Tim Quarterman on the UMass game last season