LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade knows what his 21st-place Tigers are up against against Kentucky at 16th in the SEC showdown at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“They have the SEC second freshman of the week in Tyty Washington, they have the best 3-point shooter in the league in Kellan Grady, they have the best rebounder in the country in Oscar (Tshiebwe) and they have the number two assists type. at home with (Sahvin) Wheeler. “
While keeping an eye on the Wildcats (11-2 overall, 1-0 in the SEC), LSU (12-1, 0-1 SEC) has been busy since Saturday’s 70-55 loss at the then No. 11 Auburn correcting the mistakes that led to LSU’s first loss of the season.
Wade only had to show his team the first 11 minutes of the Auburn game movie to understand the first reason LSU dug an initial double-digit deficit that he couldn’t overcome.
“We are 294 in the country in 3-point percentage,” Wade said, “so I don’t know why the heck we hit 13 3-pointers on our first 18 shots. Six or seven were very good shots. The others were very difficult, challenged hard shots.” .
Wade’s remedy is to revoke the outside shooting privileges of some of his players in the final days of practice.
“Usually I give guys a lot of freedom,” Wade said. “I’ve cut some of that (with) some of these workouts. “We will be a little more selective in our three-point shots.”
Wade doesn’t yet know if first-year starting guard Brandon Murray, who missed the Auburn game with a hamstring strain, will be available to face Britain. That means his freshman teammate Judge Williams will be back in action after scoring 7 points (including 1 of 2 3-pointers), grabbing 3 rebounds and making 2 steals in his college debut at Auburn.
Williams missed the first 12 games of the season with an undisclosed injury. Wade had planned to put him in a red jersey, but Murray’s injury changed that.
“Someone told me I dropped (Williams) on the bottom of the pool,” Wade said. “Playing at Auburn, I thought I dropped it in the middle of the ocean. It’s not like we let him warm up by playing a first game against Louisiana-Monroe.
“Justice played very well, his poise was tremendous. He has won more opportunities. He studies diligently, he really wants to be a great gamer, he’s always working, and he’s always watching movies. I love that “.
Wade has opted for an eight-man rotation since the season opener. But now, with the addition of Williams and possibly junior forward Shareef O’Neal, who has not played this season trying to heal a nagging foot injury that limited him to 10 games last year, Wade believes he has to expand his career. rotation.
“With COVID and everything that’s going on right now,” Wade said, “we need our top 10 guys to be healthy. That is the goal going forward. “
The 6-10, 220-pound O’Neal may have limited minutes against Kentucky because the Tigers need so many big bodies on hand to deal with UK youth center Tshiebwe, a 6-9, 255-pound transfer from West Virginia.
He is the Wildcats’ leading scorer (15.8 points) and rebounder (15.2 rebounds). In the last consecutive games in the UK’s current four-game win streak, Tshiebwe had 28 and 20 rebounds against Western Kentucky and Missouri, respectively.
“He puts his big butt in front of the rim,” Wade said of Tshiebwe, “and eats every basketball.”
Wheeler, who played his first two seasons for Georgia, where he was selected to the All-SEC second team last year, has a history of trouble with LSU.
A year ago, when the Tigers split a pair of games against Georgia, Wheeler averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 assists. In the Bulldogs’ 91-78 win in Athens, he posted the first triple-double in school history with 14 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.
UK coach John Calipari’s team won in three of their last four trips to Baton Rouge, but his current team lost their only true road game to date this season 66-62 at Notre Dame on December 11.
Wildcats reserve guard Davion Mince said the LSU matchup is a “statement game” that should show Britain can win on the road.
“We can walk into his house and we can dominate, the same way we do here,” Mince said. “We want to show that there are no layoffs, that we are a legitimate team in the top 10 and top five in the country, regardless of whether we play at home or away.”
Also at Tuesday’s game, LSU will hold the court naming ceremony in honor of former Tigers head coach Dale Brown, who led the Tigers to two Final Fours.