Head coach Johnny Jones has to be pleased with the way the forwards, Shavon Coleman and Johnny O'Bryant, redeemed themselves Tuesday night. The pair were key in picking up a hard fought 66-60 win over the UC Irvine Anteaters. The pair combined for 22 points and 24 rebounds, and did so without getting into any serious foul trouble.
Shavon Coleman continues to be the most important player on the team. It's not rare anymore to see coaches bring one of their best players off the bench. The reason is that delaying entry to the game allows the better player to get more favorable defensive and offensive match ups when they enter the game. Rather than going against a starter, they may be matched up against a freshman or lesser player. The gains on the scoreboard sometimes end up being larger because of the talent differential. So even though he's not getting the start, Coleman's contributions are actually more important because he doesn't get the start.
Anthony Hickey was also able to get many more minutes this game, and he also delivered. Hickey finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Once again, when he plays a lot in a game, we see that Andre Stringer also plays better, as Stringer finished with 19 points on 7-14 shooting. Johnny Jones can say a lot about Stringer being capable of playing point guard, but it's clear that he's moved on from that position. He's best at, and should only be, a secondary ball handler. Having Hickey instead of Collins on the floor only enhances Stringer's game. The sampling size is still small, but it seems to be that because of the quickness of both players, Stringer has an easier time getting open for his shot or getting to the basket.
Overall, the Tigers played a game that was good enough. As mentioned before, LSU loses this game in years past, so getting out of California with a win is big for this team. The road trip isn't over just yet, as they will be in Milwaukee this Saturday to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles. So far, the Eagles have had a somewhat disappointing start to the season. A carrier game with Ohio State was cancelled, and the other big game against Florida was an absolute blowout. A buzzer beater loss to Butler is their only other loss, while they have wins over Wisconsin, Mississippi State, and USC. Marquette is clearly battle tested so far, it will be interesting to see if LSU has learned enough from their road trip to play their best game on the road.