It has been a solid opening month of the season for LSU, but it is clear the Tigers have more to sort out before Southeastern Conference play begins.
The next opportunity for LSU comes against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon at Atlanta in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.
“We’ve had a good week of practice,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said. “We have to do whatever we can right now to get better as a team and find ways to win these games.”
LSU (7-1) and Wake Forest (7-2) last took the court Dec. 2, with time away from games during exam week.
“We have a lot of new guys,” McMahon said. “Really trying to develop chemistry on the team and that takes time.”
LSU’s last three games have been decided by four points or less, losing 61-59 to Kansas State on Nov. 23 before defeating Wofford 78-75 on Nov. 27 and Texas Arlington 63-59 on Dec. 2. Adam Miller leads the Tigers with 16.9 points per game, while KJ Williams is just behind at 16.6.
“We need to lower our turnover rate,” McMahon said. “Offensively, we’re just wasting opportunities. Our defensive rebounding, that needs to get better for us.”
Wake Forest is coming off a 77-57 loss at Clemson to open its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
“We played nine games in less than a month,” Demon Deacons coach Steve Forbes said, noting the layoff should have provided time to address certain areas. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”
Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby, who averages a team-leading 18.3 points per game, is a transfer from Florida. In last season’s lone meeting with LSU, the Tigers won and held Appleby to two points.
“Electric with the ball in his hands,” McMahon said Appleby. “He’s a tough cover in transition because of his speed.”
This will be the second season in a row the teams are meeting at a neutral site. Last year, LSU handed Wake Forest its first loss with a 75-61 decision at Destin, Fla., as part of the Emerald Coast Classic.
In last season’s meeting, Wake Forest’s Daivien Williamson poured in 20 points, but no other Demon Deacons player who scored in that game remains with the team.
McMahon said LSU needs to be aware of Wake Forest’s perimeter offense, while Forbes has concerns closer to the basket.
“I think the ability to defend the 3-point arc will be critical,” McMahon said.
The Demon Deacons struggled finishing in the lane in the Clemson game.
“We’ve been one of the best teams in the country with field-goal percentage at the rim,” Forbes said. “We’ve got to be able to play through contact.”
LSU reserve guard Justice Williams, who played about 10 minutes per game until an ankle sprain against New Orleans, could be set to return.
“Our anticipation is that he’ll be cleared and dressed and ready to go on Saturday,” McMahon said.
–Field Level Media