SYDNEY, Australia — The LSU basketball team’s Down Under tour gets serious Saturday night (Saturday morning in Baton Rouge) when the Tigers travel 90 miles up the road to meet the Newcastle All-Stars.
The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. start in Newcastle, or 4:30 a.m. CDT in Baton Rouge.
There will be no live audio or video coverage of the game, but updates will be available on Twitter @LSUBasketball and www.facebook.com/LSUBasketball. Video highlights will be available on LSUsports.net later Saturday.
This will be the first of five games in nine days in various parts of the country and the only back-to-back games on the 13-day tour as LSU faces the National Basketball League’s Sydney Kings on Sunday night (Sunday morning in Baton Rouge).
LSU practiced in Australia for the first time mid-Friday morning Sydney time with a 1-hour, 20-minute go at a local recreation club.
All 12 players eligible to play, including Brian Bridgewater, participated in drills and all are expected to dress Saturday.
While a lineup has not been announced by coach Johnny Jones, senior Keith Hornsby, juniors Tim Quarterman and Darcy Malone, freshmen Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney will be the probable starters. Malone and Simmons are native of Australia.
“I thought it was a good practice (Friday) after a day off,” Jones said. “I thought the guys came out and did an excellent job of trying to get their feet back under them. We worked extremely hard and it was pretty sharp. They looked like they are geared up and ready for the games ahead. … I think we are ready to play.”
When asked at a press session about the difference in the Australian players he has on his roster, Jones jokingly said, “Only the accents.”
Jones was asked about the rise of basketball as a global sport, especially in Australia.
“Basketball is phenomenal here in Australia,” he said. “It’s an area that we hope and feel that this trip will help expose and utilize that brand of LSU to maybe get other players more familiar with our program and our team.
“An interest level is there because these guys here have done a tremendous job as far as training, working extremely hard and playing a whole different level.”
“I never would have thought that I would have the opportunity to play my first college game here,” Simmons said. “I extremely excited to come back to Melbourne and Sydney and all the places I have grown up playing.
“Finally, I will be able to show the people back home what I’ve been working on and how much I have developed.”