Louisiana Tech LSU Basketball

LSU forward Emmitt Williams (24) is one of two big men for the Tigers who are shooting better than 68 percent from the field in the team's first seven games. Williams is hitting 68.4 percent from the floor, while Kavell Bigby-Williams knocks down 69.0 percent of his attempts.

There’s little doubt it’s been a tough four days at the LSU basketball practice facility.

Will Wade wasn’t happy when the Tigers returned from the AdvoCare Invitational late Sunday night, and, after dissecting his team’s performance Monday, started fixing the problems when the players returned to practice Tuesday.

When Wade met with reporters Friday, indications were he still hadn’t shaken LSU’s 1-2 showing in the tournament that ended with losses to Florida State and Oklahoma State.

Wade was left wondering how LSU (5-2) will respond in its next game, which comes against Grambling (3-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

“We haven’t just been sitting around singing Kumbaya all week,” Wade said when asked if six days off from game action would help his team. “We’re not going to come out and just magically play well. We’ll see.”

Wade said LSU will look different, at least in its offensive approach, from how the Tigers looked in their first seven games.

The experiment of letting a talented group of players have the freedom to run a free-wheeling, fast-paced offense ended with Sunday’s 90-77 loss to Oklahoma State.

In that one, LSU was outscored 37-4 in three key stretches — the first 5½ minutes, the final 2½ minutes of the first half and the opening five minutes of the second half.

“We’re going to change the way we play a little bit,” Wade said. “I’ve given them a little bit too much freedom. We’re going to reel that back in and I’m going to go back to what I know works really, really well.”

The plan he came up with is to attack from the inside-out rather than outside-in as the Tigers have been doing since the season started.

“It’s not necessarily the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen, but it works really well,” he said. “It’ll win, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Wade came to that conclusion with four of his five guards — including Tremont Waters — combining to hit 41.8 percent of their shots from the floor this season. Only Skylar Mays is making more than half his shots at 55.4 percent.

On the other hand, forwards Kavell Bigby-Williams and Emmitt Williams are shooting 69.0 and 68.4 percent, respectively. Throw in forwards Darius Days (50.0 percent) and Naz Reid (48.5) and Wade’s four bigs hit 57.1 for the season.

“We’re not getting those guys enough touches, so we’re going to get the ball inside,” Wade said, noting that Days and Reid shoot 60.0 percent on their two-point field-goal attempts. “It does us no good to have these big bodies if we’re not going to throw it in there, so we’re going to get used to throwing the ball in the post.

“We’re going to feed those monsters down there and they’re going to go to work. If they double, we’re going to throw it out and play 4-on-3 on the perimeter … and let those guys play.”

Mays, who averages a team-leading 14.6 points a game, knows exactly what Wade is trying to accomplish.

“Numbers don’t lie,” said Mays, who was 19 of 27 from the field in the AdvoCare tournament while going 10 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc. “We just put in some new sets in that are going to help big-time.

“We’ve seen in spurts how effective our bigs are when we feed them in the paint. … We definitely don’t feed them enough, or play though them enough. There’s been a lot of dribbling, a lot of one-on-one plays. We all benefit when everyone gets more touches.”

Other issues have been in offensive rebounding and turnovers, Wade said, which is why the 6-foot-7 Days will play more and maybe even start at the three-guard spot.

The Tigers committed 34 turnovers in the final two games and were outrebounded 52-17 on the offensive glass in the three games.

“If you shoot them close to the rim, you can get on the offensive glass,” Wade said. “We’re going to climb people’s backs and get on the offensive glass.”

The basics

WHAT: Grambling at LSU

WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center

TV: None

STREAMING: www.ESPN.com/watch

RADIO: WDGL, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7

UP NEXT: vs. Incarnate Word, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9


• LSU leads the series 3-0, winning 69-37 in their last matchup in 2011 to outscore Grambling 268-115 in the three meetings.

• LSU has scored 144 of its 570 total points (25.6 percent) in its seven games this season off 106 opponents’ turnovers.

• Grambling guard Lasani Johnson, a junior-college transfer, is the son of former UNLV and NBA star Larry Johnson.


Grambling (3-3)


Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Ivy Smith 6-0 Jr. 10.5 5.5*

G Lasani Johnson 6-3 Jr. 9.2 4.2

G/F Dallas Polk-Hilliard 6-7 Jr. 14.2 7.5

F DeVante Jackson 6-9 Jr. 8.2 3.8

C Travon Bunch 7-1 Jr. 7.2 4.3

Key reserves

F Axel Mpoyo 6-8 Jr. 8.5 4.8

F Zavier Peart 6-10 Sr. 6.7 3.5

G Nigel Ribeiro 6-0 Sr. 5.2 1.8*

* assists

LSU (5-2)


Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Tremont Waters 5-11 So. 11.3 6.3*

G Skylar Mays 6-4 Jr. 14.6 3.0

G Ja’vonte Smart 6-4 Fr. 11.1 3.7

F Naz Reid 6-10 Fr. 12.1 4.3

F Emmitt Williams 6-7 Fr. 9.3 7.4

Key reserves

F Darius Days 6-7 Fr. 6.3 4.6

F Kavell Bigby-Williams 6-11 Sr. 6.6 4.0

G Marlon Taylor 6-5 Jr. 4.4 1.9

* assists

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.