After taking a brief break to celebrate Christmas, the LSU men’s basketball team returns to action Friday night against Houston Baptist at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Once again, the Tigers will be without point guard Anthony Hickey.
Coach Johnny Jones said Thursday that Hickey will be held out of LSU’s penultimate nonconference game because of disciplinary issues, the latest off-court setback for the sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., in a season marred by them.
Tip-off at the Assembly Center is set for 7 p.m.
“Anthony has a lot of improvement to do and a lot of (room for) growth, and we have to continue to try and help him develop — not just on the floor, but off the floor as well,” Jones said. “Because for him to be able to help us on a consistent basis, you can’t be one-dimensional. You can’t just be about basketball. He’s going to have to at some point grow up, and it’s up to us to help him.”
Jones said he hadn’t decided whether Hickey would be allowed to play Jan. 5, when LSU closes its nonconference schedule against Bethune-Cookman.
The Tigers (7-2) also could be without sophomore forward Johnny O’Bryant, who was held out of practice Wednesday night after suffering an undisclosed injury in an 84-80 loss at Marquette entering the Christmas break. Jones said a decision on O’Bryant’s status would likely be made after Thursday’s practice.
O’Bryant averages 13.3 points to go with a team-high 8.5 rebounds.
“We’re going to look at him a little bit today and see what he’s able to give us,” Jones said. “We definitely want to make sure he’s OK going into conference play.”
Hickey averages 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.8 rebounds, and has been a key cog in helping the Tigers average 77.2 points per game — when he’s been available.
He was suspended, along with freshman guard Shane Hammink, for LSU’s exhibition game against Arkansas-Monticello and later was held out of the starting lineup Nov. 24 against Mississippi Valley State for another disciplinary issue.
Then, he served an indefinite suspension for what Jones termed a violation of athletic department and university policies earlier this month, which resulted in Hickey missing the Chattanooga game Dec. 11 and sitting out the first half of a subsequent game at Boise State.
Against Marquette, the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball had 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“The more I pray, the more the devil try. I gotta get through this,” Hickey tweeted Thursday.
Freshman Corban Collins is likely to make his fourth career start Friday as LSU returns home after going 1-2 during a recent three-game road swing.
Houston Baptist (4-7) is in its final season as a member of the Great West Conference and will enter the Southland next season.
Art Bernardi averages 14.3 points for the Huskies followed by Tyler Russell at 11.4.