Texas Tech coach Chris Beard wanted to know during his video news conference Thursday where he could get some good gumbo during his team’s visit to Baton Rouge for Saturday’s game against LSU.
LSU coach Will Wade would probably be happy to send Beard home with a gallon of gumbo and pick up the check to boot if that means his Tigers could get a signature win over the No. 10-ranked Red Raiders.
After snapping their two-game losing streak with a 78-66 victory Tuesday at Texas A&M, LSU’s record stands at a solid 11-4 overall and 6-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Despite the Tigers’ recent defeats against an SEC-leading Alabama team that’s vanishing over the horizon and at Kentucky, LSU is still tied for second in the conference standings with Florida.
That said, the Tigers are still in search of a marquee victory, something to eclipse their 92-76 romp earlier this month over Arkansas which entered Friday’s play No. 29 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.
Texas Tech, No. 13 in the NET rankings, would certainly qualify.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Wade said Friday.
Opportunity knocks for the Tigers at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2 as part of the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Red Raiders are coming off back-to-back losses, though those come with something of a qualifier.
Texas Tech lost 68-60 on Jan. 16 to No. 2-ranked and undefeated Baylor, had back-to-back games with TCU and Iowa State postponed, then dropped an 88-87 thriller Monday night at No. 11 West Virginia.
After the loss in Morgantown, Beard also sounded like a coach whose team also needs a big win.
"We're more than halfway through the season," he said. "It's time to start winning these games."
Wade said he believes his Tigers will have to play their best game of the season to prevail.
“They have as good an organization as there is in college basketball,” he said. “Great team. Tremendous team culture. They’ve got a lot of weapons, starting with Mac McClung and Terrence Shannon.”
McClung, a 6-foot-2 guard averaging 17.2 points this season, burned the nets for 30 points at West Virginia. Meanwhile Shannon, a 6-6 reserve guard averaging 12.9 points per contest, came off the bench for 15 more.
Texas Tech also starts Marcus Santos-Silva, a 6-7 forward who transferred from VCU, where Wade coached before he came to LSU. Santos-Silva scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in an 84-82 win over LSU in Richmond, Virginia, back on Nov. 13, 2019.
“They’re relentless on both ends of the court,” Wade said. “It will take our best game to date to give us a chance to win our best game.”
Beard was similarly complimentary of LSU, especially after watching the Tigers come back to win in College Station. The Tigers trailed by six points during the second half but throttled the Aggies’ down the stretch with perhaps their best defensive effort in an often defensive-challenged season.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — With 6:56 left in Tuesday night’s game with Texas A&M, Will Wade paced up and down in front of a socially distanc…
A&M failed to score a point over nearly the game’s final nine minutes, while the Tigers got their typical double-figure scoring from four starters. Freshman guard Cam Thomas, who again leads the SEC with 22.1 points per game, poured in 28 points. Javonte Smart scored 19 points and dished out nine assists, while Trendon Watford had 13 points and eight rebounds. Darius Days chipped in with 11 points.
“They’re a second-weekend (NCAA) tournament team,” Beard said.
Though LSU averages 38.3 rebounds per game to Texas Tech’s 36.3, Wade said his Tigers must improve on the glass, especially at the defensive end.
“Defensive rebounding would be a great place to start,” Wade said. “They’re a great, great offensive rebounding team. We need to be able to hold them to one shot. If we can defensive rebound that would really help our offensive output. Our first-shot defense isn’t bad, it’s that we give up multiple shots.”
Defense in general is the key for LSU in this game and the rest of the season, Wade said.
“If we want to be the team we’re capable of being, the light has got to come on at some point,” he said. “We keep working on it. Hopefully it’s going to click at some point. That’s all I know how to do.”
This is LSU’s second straight appearance in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Tigers won a close one 69-67 last season at Texas.
Overall, LSU is 2-2 in the challenge, including a 77-64 loss at Texas Tech in 2017.