Johnny Jones must have been thrilled to finally return to Baton Rouge and start the season off with a win. The LSU Tigers looked calm, focused, and talented against the UCSB Gauchos on Friday night. Jones was certainly busy on the sidelines, as LSU substituted players virtually any time they had a chance to do so, but it seemed to work very well for the most part.
Graduate transfer Charles Carmouche led the way for the Tigers with 16 points on a 6-10 shooting night. The newcomers had a fantastic night, as Malik Morgan added 10 points and 6 rebounds, while Shane Hammink had 10 of his own. Shavon Coleman, while a little bit less impressive than the others, added 6 points, but was an anchor down low and recorded a game high 28 minutes played.
Coleman was certainly needed, as Johnny O'Bryant left the game very early with an injury. Reports are that it is minor and that LSU was willing to let him sit out and rest rather than risk doing more damage. Prior to that, JOB was a monster and scored 13 points with 8 rebounds in only 11 minutes of play. He was able to score from all over the court and was extremely aggressive rebounding and scoring down low.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a perfect game for the Tigers. The team shot a dismal 7 for 20 from the free throw line, while the forwards shot a combined 3-15, including missing the front end of multiple 1 and 1's. Eddie Ludwig was awful in the game, despite the fact that he finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds. He was very slow defensively and responsible for quite a few easy layups, while on the offensive end he shot 1-5 with 3 turnovers. He was having a lot of trouble simply holding onto the ball, and overall I don't think he deserves nearly the amount of playing time that he got.
Overall though the Tigers should be happy with the way they performed tonight. Shane Hammink plays a very effective, crafty style of game and knows how to find openings in the defense. He's also surprisingly athletic and it allows him to play like a power forward when he needs to, but he possesses the skills to play like a shooting guard as well. Malik Morgan is a very good shooter and we should expect to see him challenge Andre Stringer for playing time if Stringer goes cold like he tends to do later in the year.
Up next for the Tigers is the McNeese State Cowboys on Tuesday night at 7:00 CT.