CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands — The need for a more physical presence in the low post dictated a change in LSU coach Johnny Jones’ starting lineup for the first time this season in the final game of the Paradise Jam on Monday.
In order to better deal with Landry Nnoko, Clemson’s 6-foot-10, 255-pound center, Jones sat freshman center Elbert Robinson III and went with little-used 6-10, 245-pound center John Odo.
Robinson started the first four games, playing only 31 minutes and averaging 1.0 points and 1.8 rebounds. Odo, a junior-college transfer, logged three minutes in two appearances before making the first start of his two-year career with the Tigers.
Odo was effective on both ends of the floor while playing 24 minutes. He scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, had four rebounds and did a nice job defensively on Nnoko, who got into foul trouble and had eight points and nine rebounds in Clemson’s 64-61 win.
“John has the size, strength and tenaciousness to put a body on folks,” Jones said. “We needed that physical play, and he put in some good minutes on defense and made some good plays offensively. He made some good catches and finished at the rim. He played strong, and that could be beneficial to us as the season progresses.”
LSU won’t be going to an exotic locale like the Virgin Islands next season, but the Tigers will be playing in a four-team tournament in Brooklyn, New York, during Thanksgiving week.
The Barclays Center Classic is usually played the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said the school is also trying to arrange a trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational in 2016.
Mickey on USBWA list
LSU forward Jordan Mickey was among 24 players named Monday to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association early season watch list for national player of the year.
The player of the year and freshman of the year awards, as well as the Henry Iba Award for national coach of the year, will be announced in March.
Memories of Maravich
LSU and Clemson met on the basketball court for the first time in 45 years on Monday.
The last time came on Dec. 20, 1969, when Pete Maravich poured in 49 points to lead LSU to a 111-103 victory in Clemson, South Carolina.
Maravich spent his formative years in Clemson when his dad, Press Maravich, coached the Atlantic Coast Conference Tigers from 1956-62. He later was LSU’s coach from 1966-72.
“It’s been a great experience for the players because a lot of them would never have the opportunity to come to a place like this. … It’s part of the educational experience. It’s been good.” — Alleva, on LSU’s trip to the Virgin Islands.
LSU will fly home Tuesday and return to the court Saturday to take on McNeese State in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.