With a five-game Australian exhibition tour and a scrimmage against TCU behind them, the LSU men’s basketball team will take one final step Friday night toward the games that really count.
No. 21 LSU will play its lone exhibition game against Southwest Baptist at 7 p.m. Friday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with some work to do before opening the regular season on Nov. 13 against McNeese State.
There is no admission charge for the exhibition game, which will be available online at SEC Network Plus. The first 5,000 fans entering the arena will receive the Geaux 25/7 poster featuring Ben Simmons and Leonard Fournette.
Even though it won’t count, the matchup with Southwest Baptist took on greater importance this week when senior guard Keith Hornsby had minor surgery that will sideline him for the start of the regular season.
While fans will be eager to get their first real look at Simmons, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation last winter and Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, LSU coach Johnny Jones and his staff will be experimenting with the playing rotation — especially at the two-guard spot Hornsby manned for all 33 games last season.
“This exhibition will serve a purpose for us as we continue to strive and get ready for our season opener,” Jones said. “This exhibition game will be a little different. We will have a lot of different looks at other guys, giving guys the opportunity to play.”
Sophomore Jalyn Patterson, who started the last 11 games a year ago and averaged just under 10 points a game in that stretch, is likely to get the first opportunity to replace Hornsby.
“Jalyn is a confident player; he’s always had a lot of confidence in his game,” said starting point guard Tim Quarterman. “He’s a very good team player and a positive guy who just wants to win.”
Freshmen Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson could fill in for Hornsby as well while also getting time as the third guard. Quarterman and senior Josh Gray also figure into the numerous guard combinations Jones could utilize.
After a breakout sophomore season, Quarterman averaged 16.4 points a game in the five exhibition games in Australia, while Simmons averaged 20.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Simmons said the Tigers, who’ll also be without transfer Craig Victor until the fall semester ends, handled Hornsby’s absence well in the scrimmage with TCU. Sampson also was held out after suffering a concussion in practice.
“We did well, but we missed Keith on some possessions where he would definitely have hit a lot of shots,” Simmons said. “But that’s the adversity we have to go through. We have to play with a different tempo and in a different way at times, but everyone is stepping up.”
Jones said the scoring and defensive intensity Hornsby brought to the team will be covered, but he’ll be looking for some leadership as well.
“Those guys are very capable scorers, but to play with the intensity level that Keith played with day-in and day-out — we’re going to miss that,” Jones said. “We are hopeful that somebody will step up.”