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Preview: LSU hosts Texas Tech

LSU basketball opens up the season in the PMAC against the Red Raiders.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tubby Smith returns to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center tonight as the LSU Men’s Basketball team plays host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Smith has a coaching record of 15-3 all-time against the Tigers. The majority of the games came as he coach of the Kentucky Wildcats from 1997 to 2007 whom he led to the national championship in 1998.

Smith’s Red Raider squad comes into tonight’s contest with a record of 1-0 after coming from behind to beat Loyola-Maryland by a score of 71-59. The team started a lineup with a senior, a sophomore, and three freshmen. Norense Odiase, Devaugntah Williams, Keenan Evans, and Todderick Gotcher each scored in the double digits to propel the Red Raiders in the opener.  According to reports, "It is the first time in Texas Tech history that four freshmen have started on opening day and also the first time that four underclassmen have started."

Smith was quoted to say about the win, "We were really tested by Loyola. I think we learned a lot about ourselves in the opener." He went on to say, "There is a possibility that we might switch some things up. We are looking to get the right players in there to be successful. Toddrick (Gotcher) came off the bench and did well for us. There are some other things in play, so I could see us adjusting our starting lineup against LSU."

The Tigers come into the game tonight also with a record of 1-0 after vanquishing Gardner-Webb 93-82 Saturday afternoon. Jarell Martin and Jordan Micky led the way each scoring 21-points. The offense was aided and abetted by Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby who added 18 points and 17 points respectively.

Head Coach Johnny Jones talked earlier in the week about the play of his offense.

"I think those four guys are very capable of putting up good numbers so it’s good to see that type of balance and it was spread out throughout the game. When you can get hit like that from any area of the floor, that is a big positive for us because the other guys have shown that they are capable of doing those things as well."

Martin talked previously about the matchup. He said, "We had to play real physical down low with their bigs. They came out setting the tone down low so we definitely had to work on that-make sure they weren’t getting any touches and scoring easily down low."

Hornsby earlier in the week was quoted to say, "I was getting really excited, but I had to keep my composure because I helped extend the lead. You can get out of sync when you do that. I mean the game’s not over. I was excited, but I made sure I moved on right after I scored those (nine straight) points. I think I did that.

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders against Gardner-Webb, the defense experienced a slow start and struggled in the first half. Jones previously said of his defense, "I thought our post defense wasn’t as good, and that was one of the areas I think I was most concerned with. They did not do a great job one-on-one in their defending the post." He went on to say,  I think we had eight fouls as a team, and that means that we weren’t as aggressive as we should have been, possibly trying to deter them from getting easy scoring opportunities at the basket. They only shot five free throws for the game, and when they are taking point blank shots like that at the basket, I think you’ve got to try to defend the post or the rim at a better rate than that."

The Tigers will try to replicate the same success they had against the Red Raiders in a game played last season in Lubbock. In that game LSU made 52% of its total field goal shots including 47% from behind the arc to win by a final score of 71-69. LSU also made 68% of its attempts from the free-throw stripe.

This year’s edition will be broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN2 in the night cap of the 2014 ESPN Tipoff Marathon. The two teams are scheduled to collide at 8:30 PM.