LSU guard Keith Hornsby ready to return for Houston game; Craig Victor likely to sit one last time _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU guard Keith Hornsby runs through drills before tipoff of a game against South Alabama on Nov. 19.

The LSU basketball team will still be a player short when the Tigers head west for Sunday’s nonconference game with Houston.

While LSU coach Johnny Jones will have guard Keith Hornsby on the floor after he missed the first seven games following sports hernia surgery, forward Craig Victor won’t make the trip.

Victor, who had to sit out the fall semester after transferring from Arizona in January, has a final scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The team will depart at noon Saturday for Houston, Jones said.

Jones said Victor, who had hoped to play for the first time against Houston, won’t become eligible until all exams are administered and grades are certified Tuesday.

“When we get back, we will address his situation, and we’re hopeful we can get him on the court in the near future,” Jones said. “We feel he’s in good shape, in good standing, with what he’s done academically.”

Jones said Victor doesn’t have to go through the NCAA and will be ready to play when his grades are certified. That means Victor, a New Orleans native, could make his LSU debut Wednesday night against Gardner-Webb.

Hornsby ready

Even though Victor is still at least a game away, Jones is excited about getting Hornsby back on the floor.

Hornsby, the top returning scorer from last year’s team that reached the NCAA tournament, has been sidelined since having surgery Nov. 3.

While Jones doesn’t know how many minutes Hornsby will be able to play right away, he does know that it won’t be in a starting role. Hornsby was the only player to start all 33 games a year ago.

“We feel as though Keith will be able to give us some minutes, how many we’re not sure,” Jones said. “The game will be different for him. ... It will be his first competition this year, and we know that the pace of the game and all of those things will be a little bit different.”

Back to the court

LSU, which has been off for concentrated study period and final exams since a 119-108 victory over North Florida on Dec. 2, will finally get back on the court in Houston.

LSU (4-3) snapped a three-game losing streak when it overcame a hot-shooting North Florida team just in time for the long break for finals, but the Tigers will be tested by a Houston team coming off its first loss after opening the season 5-0.

Jones said it’s not bad for his team to face a higher-caliber team in its first game back.

“We’ve got a very difficult schedule and we’d like to preferably ease (back) into it,” he said. “A team like Houston mentally forces you to put yourself in a state where you need to be and you have to try and be at your best, so it will be a great challenge for us.”

Wake tip time changed

LSU’s game with Wake Forest on Tuesday, Dec. 29 will be played an hour earlier than originally scheduled because of a conflict with the football team’s appearance in the Texas Bowl the same night.

LSU and Wake Forest will play at 6 p.m. in the PMAC in order to give fans who want to make the game time to get home and watch the LSU-Texas Tech game, which will kick off shortly after 8 p.m.

The LSU-Wake Forest game will also have new TV and radio networks.

The game will now be televised by ESPNU and will be broadcast on WTGE-FM, 100.7 in Baton Rouge because the LSU football pregame show will air on the LSU Sports Radio Network’s flagship station, WDGL-FM, 98.1.

Remembering ‘Hot Rod’

Jones said he was saddened to hear the news Friday of the death of former St. Amant High School, Tulane and NBA player John “Hot Rod” Williams.

Jones said his final game at DeRidder High School in 1981 was against Williams’ St. Amant team.

“I remember him vividly, following him in college and what a tremendous job he was able to do in college and go on to the pros and have an extended career there,” Jones said. “He was a phenomenal player, and I have great memories of having the chance to watch him at Tulane and playing in the NBA for a long time.”

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.