Freshmen lead LSU to 78-66 victory over South Alabama Thursday night _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU center Elbert Robinson III (3) grimaces as he lays on the court after injuring his ankle in the second half against South Alabama, Thursday, November 19, 2015, at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.

It has been so far, so good — for the most part, anyway — through the first three games of the season for the LSU men’s basketball team.

Sure, there’s still some work to be done on a rebounding deficiency that is concerning to coach Johnny Jones, and the schedule gets a little stickier for his No. 23 Tigers after double-digit wins over McNeese State, Kennesaw State and South Alabama.

Both issues may come into play in their next two games, in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in New York.

LSU will take a step up in competition on back-to-back nights when it faces Marquette (1-2) at 6 p.m. Monday and either Arizona State or North Carolina State on Tuesday night.

When the Tigers arrive in the Big Apple, they could be without starting center Elbert Robinson III after spraining his left ankle with a little over 11 minutes to play in a 78-66 win over South Alabama on Thursday night.

Jones said Friday that Robinson’s availability for Monday’s Legends Classic semifinal with Marquette was uncertain after X-rays on the ankle came up negative.

Jones said the injury was no more than a sprain but at the same time ruled out a high-ankle sprain that can sideline athletes for longer periods of time.

He said Robinson’s availability will be determined by how he feels when the team arrives in New York on Sunday afternoon.

“We don’t think he’ll be available to practice, probably, on Saturday,” Jones said. “We’re going to allow him to continue to heal to see if we can maybe get him ready for Sunday. If he’s ready to practice Sunday afternoon when we get to New York, we’ll possibly be able to know if he’s available (Monday).”

If the 7-foot-1 Robinson misses some playing time, it would be a blow to an LSU team that’s already playing without guard Keith Hornsby, who had minor surgery Nov. 3, and forward Craig Victor, who won’t become eligible until Dec. 13 after transferring from Arizona.

Robinson, a sophomore, has been one of the biggest surprises of the young season after averaging 0.5 points and 1.5 rebounds a year ago.

He ranks fifth on the team in scoring at 8.0 points and is third in rebounding with 4.0 while averaging 16.3 minutes.

Robinson scored eight points in the opener against McNeese — two more than he had in 11 games last year — and produced a career-high 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting before being injured Thursday.

Jones certainly would like to have Robinson and his length back, if at all possible, for Monday night’s game with Marquette.

The Golden Eagles landed the No. 5 recruit in the country last winter in 6-11 forward Henry Ellenson, who is averaging 14.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the first three games. Jones said Ellenson is a potential NBA lottery pick.

“(Robinson) is that post presence we need, and for him to be making those strides and to have a setback and sit out a few days is certainly not too big of a concern, because we know we’ll get him back,” Jones said. “But we would love to have him — especially against this caliber of competition we’re about to face in the next couple of days.”

Ellenson was on ESPN’s list as the No. 2 power forward prospect behind only Ben Simmons, who signed with LSU after being the country’s top recruit.

Jones indicated that he’ll lean on a post play-by-committee if Robinson isn’t able to play for any length of time.

That likely would mean more playing time for sophomore forward Aaron Epps, who’s averaging 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds, and 7-0 junior center Darcy Malone, who has not scored in three games and averages a rebound per outing.

Chandler Rome contributed to this report.