LSU (0-0) at Massachusetts (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 12, 11 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: LSU 0-0, UMass 0-0. Away Record: LSU 0-0, UMass 0-0. Neutral Record: LSU 0-0, UMass 1-0. Conference Record: LSU 0-0, UMass 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The LSU Tigers will get their season underway on Tuesday morning as they visit the Mullins Center for a non-conference tilt against the Massachusetts Minutemen as part of the 24-hour Tip-off Marathon.
In Johnny Jones' first season as the Tigers' head coach, the squad finished 19-12 overall and waded in mediocrity in the SEC with a 9-9 league mark. However, things are looking up in Baton Rouge thanks to arguably the most cohesive returning unit in the conference. LSU dominated NAIA foe Xavier of New Orleans in its lone exhibition game, winning by a score of 80-45. The Tigers are receiving votes in the Top 25 poll to begin the season for the first time since 2008.
Coach Derek Kellogg led his Minutemen to an 86-73 win over Boston College to begin the year. UMass is now 86-77 under the sixth-year head coach, who led his alma mater to a 21-12 finish to the 2012-13 season. The Minutemen have a superstar senior in point guard Chaz Williams, who led the team to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinals where it was dispatched by Shaka Smart's VCU Rams. UMass's win over Boston College was its first appearance since exiting the NIT with a first round loss to Stony Brook.
This will be the first meeting in history between LSU and UMass on the hardwood.
LSU has a stellar junior tandem of Johnny O'Bryant III and Anthony Hickey to lead it through the 2013-14 campaign. O'Bryant, a first-team All-SEC selection last season, was named to the All-SEC preseason first team, while Hickey, who made the SEC All-Defensive team a year ago, was selected on the second team. O'Bryant averaged 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while Hickey netted 11.2 points and 3.8 assists per contest. Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman round out Jones's balanced backcourt. There are high expectations for 6-foot-9, 241-pound freshman forward Jarell Martin, who was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Louisiana last season after averaging 26.3 points, 14.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 4.1 blocked shots per tilt.
The 5-9 Williams was all-conference last season for UMass after contributing 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists and two steals per game. He came out of the gate on fire on Sunday, hitting all five of his 3-point attempts en route to 20 points. Junior center Cady Lalanne stole the show against BC with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of action. Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon made his program debut, but shot just 2-of-12 from the floor to tally seven points. Sampson Carter was solid, as he scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the victory. The Minutemen really stepped up their play after hitting on just 35.5 percent of their field goal tries in the first half. They went 21-of-35 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to overcome a four-point halftime deficit and claim a commanding 13-point win.
Both of these teams have potential to make a run to the NCAA Tournament. This game will be a solid win on the resume of the victor. Although the Minutemen have the homecourt advantage and an abundance of confidence, Lalanne will have trouble dominating in the paint against LSU's top notch forwards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 75, Massachusetts 70
11/12 10:33:50 ET