Thursday was a day off from the court for the LSU men’s basketball team.
It wasn’t an off day for Will Wade and his staff, who were trying to figure out two problems that have cropped up in the Tigers' first two games: Turnovers and fouls.
“All day,” Wade said when asked how long they worked at them.
To be sure, there was a lot to dissect after LSU’s 84-82 loss to VCU in Richmond, Virginia, the previous night.
The Tigers’ 26 turnovers, the most since Wade arrived two-plus seasons ago, and 25 fouls were the focus as they worked to find solutions before a 3 p.m. Saturday matchup against Nicholls State in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
It just wasn’t the VCU game; No. 23 LSU was sloppy with the ball in an 88-79 season-opening win over Bowling Green, so a quick fix is needed.
LSU is averaging 21 turnovers, which ties the Tigers for 346th out of 350 Division I teams. Only North Carolina Central (29.5) and Sacred Heart (22.0) have more.
Last season, the Tigers averaged just 12.9 turnovers in 35 games.
“We just have to be cleaner with the ball,” Wade said. “The spacing has to be better, we can’t be sloppy with the ball. We’ll get it fixed. … We have good guards, good players, so we’ll get it fixed.”
LSU is also 333rd in turnover margin at minus-8.5 with its 25 takeaways being negated by 42 giveaways.
The Tigers have scored 25 points off opponents’ miscues, while Bowling Green and VCU, which had 37 alone Wednesday night, have combined for 53.
Fouls are another issue.
With the 25 fouls committed at VCU, the Tigers have 43 with their 21.5 average putting them 314th in the nation.
“The thing is we scored 82 points at VCU and turned it over 26 times,” Wade said. “We had 16 turnovers against Bowling Green and scored 88. If we could cut those turnovers down, we’d be in business.”
"Having 26 turnovers is hard to overcome, especially on the road," LSU senior guard Skylar Mays said. "I probably had five or six of those, so I have to do a much better job as one of the leaders on this team.
"But it's something we definitely have to correct. We have got to do better."
The fouls aren’t as concerning to Wade because he wants his team to be aggressive on offense and physical on defense.
“We wasted too many fouls against VCU,” he said. “Some of the fouls we have are good fouls. But the other night, we had too many fouls outside the scoring area.
"We gave them 10 points on fouls that had nothing to do with the play that was going on. We just gave up way too much, and it put us in a bad spot.”
An improvement, especially in the turnover column, would be helpful against Nicholls State (2-1).
The Colonels took Illinois to overtime before falling 78-70, then went to Pittsburgh four nights later and pulled off a massive 75-70 upset.
Illinois had 23 turnovers and Pitt 21.
Paul Quinn College had 19 in a 81-66 loss to Nicholls on Wednesday night, giving the Colonels 63 takeaways in three games. Their 21.0 average ranks 19th in Division I.
Nicholls is led by transfer guards Dexter McClanahan (16.0 ppg) and D'Angelo Hunter (11.0).
Hunter, who previously played at West Virginia, had four steals in the victory over Pitt. McClanahan, a Savannah State transfer, had three steals that day.
“We need to do better because Nicholls will turn you over, too,” Wade said. “They play defense like South Carolina does in our league, so it’ll be another difficult challenge.”
Kids Day in the PMAC
Kids Day tickets will be available for $1 for youths. The first 1,000 kids under 12 receive a mini-plush Tiger and children under 12 will be invited after the game to shoot free throws on the court.
WHAT: Nicholls State at No. 23 LSU
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: vs. Maryland-Baltimore County, 6 p.m. Tuesday
• LSU is 17-1 all-time against Nicholls State. The teams last met on Nov. 12, 2011 when the Tigers topped the Colonels 96-74 in the PMAC.
• Since the 1999-2000 season, LSU is 79-3 against in-state schools. One of the losses was to Nicholls State on Nov. 16, 2010 (62-53).
• Skylar Mays' 23 points at VCU was one off the career- high 24 he had against Missouri last season. He also had 23 vs. Tennessee a year ago.
Nicholls State (2-1)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Kevin Johnson 6-0 Jr. 8.3 5.0*
G Dexter McClanahan 6-4 Sr. 16.0 4.0
G D'Angelo Hunter 6-7 Sr. 11.0 3.0
F Warith Alatishe 6-7 So. 7.7 8.0
F Ellis Harvey 6-8 Sr. 11.3 5.3
G Andre Jones 6-4 Jr. 13.0 1.7
G Jeremiah Buford 6-5 Jr. 5.0 2.0
G/F Brandon Moore 6-5 Sr. 1.7 1.7
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Javonte Smart 6-4 So. 18.0 4.0*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 Sr. 20.5 8.0
G Charles Manning 6-5 Jr. 6.5 4.5
F Darius Days 6-6 So. 11.5 5.5
F Trendon Watford 6-9 Fr. 10.5 5.5
F Emmitt Williams 6-6 So. 15.0 5.0
G Aundre Hyatt 6-5 Fr. 1.0 5.0
G James Bishop 6-2 Fr. 2.0 0.0