There was no time for members of the LSU basketball team to hang their heads over a narrow loss to Kentucky when they returned to practice Thursday.
Correcting the mistakes the Tigers made one night earlier in a hard-fought 74-71 loss to the No. 17 Wildcats was crucial, but so was turning the page to their next assignment: An equally-tough matchup with Texas A&M (11-3, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) at 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Reed Arena.
Like Kentucky on Wednesday night, Texas A&M’s length will be a major challenge for LSU (9-4, 0-1).
Forward Robert Williams and center Tyler Davis, who both stand 6-foot-10, will likely be joined by 6-9 forward DJ Hogg, who’s expected to be available after serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules.
The difference, LSU coach Will Wade said Thursday, is Texas A&M’s bigs have more experience and girth than Kentucky’s all-freshman starting lineup.
“Those guys are bulkier and they’re more experienced,” Wade said of A&M’s imposing front line. “Those guys have been around. Robert Williams is going to play in the NBA, and Tyler Davis is as good a post player as there is in college and he’ll play professionally.
“They’re big and strong, they’re good players. So they’re certainly going to challenge us on the backboards. It’s going to be a big, big challenge.”
The number that mattered most to Will Wade on Wednesday night was five.
Davis is averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game; Williams, a preseason first-team All-SEC pick, gets 8.4 points and 10.0 rebounds for A&M, which leads the league with 44.5 rebounds a game — 4.6 more than Kentucky.
Hogg is Texas A&M’s leading scorer at 14.6 points a game, while shooting a league-best 50.0 percent from 3-point range. He also averages 6.8 rebounds.
If that’s not enough, the Aggies have 6-10 senior center Tonny Trocha-Morelos coming off the bench and 6-7 guard/forward Savion Flagg, who’s been starting in Hogg’s absence.
It’s not a good mix for Wade’s team, which ranks last in the league with 35.5 rebounds per game even though LSU held its own against Kentucky and was outrebounded by just one, 35-34.
“Both teams have length, but A&M has more experience,” said LSU forward Duop Reath, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds against Kentucky. “Davis has a lot of experience to him. He’s a good player and knows how to use angles. He is a good post player, so the key is not letting him get too deep in the post.”
Texas A&M, which has won six of the past seven meetings with LSU, will have something else going for it: motivation.
Since rising to fifth in the AP poll Dec. 26 in winning 11 of its first 12 games, the Aggies dropped to 11th Monday after shooting a season-low 30.0 percent from the field in a 79-57 loss at Alabama.
LSU broke out the gold kit Wednesday night, the vibrant uniform that ties a thread back to the days of glory for Tigers basketball, the days o…
On Tuesday night, coach Billy Kennedy’s team fell hard at home to Florida. The Aggies shot just 42.9 percent in an 83-66 setback even though it outrebounded the Gators 39-29.
In those two games, A&M was without Hogg and Admon Gilder, another talented guard who was sidelined with a knee injury. Point guard Duane Wilson hurt his knee against Alabama and sat out the Florida, too.
Gilder may return Saturday, but Wilson is questionable.
Wade said Texas A&M is a much different team without Hogg and Gilder.
“Hogg is a big-time shooter, so you're relying on other guys when he’s not there,” Wade said. “Florida just packed (the middle) in. They were just so far in there, they made it difficult for the bigger guys. So they don't have the shooting and don't have as many easy one-on-one opportunities with the bigs.”
He can only hope his team can battle A&M like it did against Kentucky, when the shorter Tigers were right there and had two 3-point shots at tying the game in the closing seconds.
But they couldn’t connect.
“We had too many lapses, so that was a little bit disappointing,” he said. “But we turned the page and that's in the past. A&M doesn’t care, I can assure you that.”
WHAT: LSU at Texas A&M
WHEN: 1:15 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: at Arkansas, 8 p.m. Wednesday (SEC Network)
• LSU, which has been good at scoring off turnovers, netted just nine points on 14 Kentucky miscues Wednesday night.
• Guard Tremont Waters had his third double-double vs. Kentucky, but it was his first with points and rebounds (18/11).
• The all-time series between these teams is tied at 18-18, but A&M holds a 7-4 advantage since joining the SEC in 2012.
LSU (9-4, 0-1 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 17.2 6.2*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 12.2 4.0
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 6.1 1.5
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 10.2 6.0
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 12.8 5.2
G Brandon Sampson 6-5 Jr. 8.7 3.1
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 7.5 3.9
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.5 1.8
Texas A&M (11-3, 0-2 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G JJ Caldwell 6-1 Fr. 3.9 3.0*
G Jay Jay Chandler 6-4 Fr. 5.3 1.3
G/F Savion Flagg 6-7 Fr. 7.6 5.8
F Robert Williams 6-10 So. 8.4 10.0
C Tyler Davis 6-10 Jr. 13.8 8.1
F DJ Hogg 6-9 Jr. 14.6 6.8
C Tonny Trocha-Morelos 6-10 Sr. 8.3 5.4
G TJ Starks 6-2 Fr. 5.4 2.2
LSU basketball broke out the gold uniforms Wednesday night for their SEC opener against Kentucky at the Maravich Center. And coach Will Wade?