The Tigers blew a 15 point lead against the Houston Cougars last Wednesday before besting the Saint Mary’s Gaels late Saturday night in Las Vegas. Both teams are currently ranked in the KenPom Top 50, with Saint Mary’s at 47 being LSU’s strongest win to date.
Furman finished last season with a record of 23-10 and did not compete in a postseason tournament. At this point last season, the Paladins were 9-3 before losing to eventual SEC Champion Tennessee 66-61.
The Paladins enter tonight’s contest with a 12-0 record, serving as one of the nine remaining undefeated teams in Division I Basketball. Three of their wins came in overtime periods, including a 76-68 victory over defending National Champion Villanova. Furman also boasts an eight game winning streak on the road, a streak that will directly conflict with LSU’s thirteen straight wins in the PMAC.
“Obviously, it will be a good game. To get an opportunity to play a top-25 team at home in the non-conference schedule is a big deal. They’re a very, very good team,” Coach Wade said to the media Thursday. “Rafferty, their five-man is a tremendous player, unlike any big guy we’ve played all year. He’s like a point-center, had 91 assists last year on the year and has done a great job assisting this year. It’s going to be a very difficult matchup for us.”
“I’ve known Coach Richey for a long, long time. He’s from down here in Louisiana, went to high school down here,” continued Wade. “I was joking with him the other day when we were in Texas saying, ‘I wouldn’t have scheduled the game with you if I knew y’all were going to be this good.’ ...They’ve got a great team this year. They are certainly deserving of their top-25 team ranking, and we will need to play one of, if not our best game to give ourselves an opportunity to win this game.”
Tremont Waters came off the bench to score 18 points in LSU’s win over Saint Mary’s, a move that’s expected to continue through tonight and future games.
“I thought he did a great job,” said Wade. “Tremont is a great point guard. He’s a great player for us. I thought he did a really good job of seeing the game a little bit better and getting a different perspective and then go out there to attack and make plays, which is what he does...He hit the ball screens hard against Saint Mary’s. He got downhill, played north-south, and I was very pleased with how he played.”
With Waters coming off the bench, a corresponding move of Marlon Taylor to the starting rotation will seem to stick as well.
“He’s played well. He played well against Houston, played a good defensive game against Saint Mary’s, about as good of defensive play as you can see,” Wade spoke of Taylor. “He choked down on the roller and closed out and blocked a three. He made a huge play at the end of the game where Ja’vonte (Smart) made them dribble, and Marlon contested the three. He’s coming on, and we certainly need that as we move into SEC play.”
Tonight’s contest will tip off at 7pm in the PMAC and will be streamed on SEC Network+. You can also listen live on 98.1FM, follow my live tweets @marq113, or join the discussion in the comments below.
Alternatively, there are still a TON of tickets remaining, and at a buy one, get one deal at that. For two tickets in 302:
Projected Furman Paladins Starting 5
#23 Jordan Lyons - 18.2 PPG, 2.2 APG, 32.8 MPG
#32 Matt Rafferty - 17.2 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 33.2 MPG
#45 Clay Mounce - 12.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 28.8 MPG
#10 Alex Hunter - 8.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, 33.1 MPG
#4 Noah Gurley - 9.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 26.1 MPG
Projected LSU Tigers Starting 5
#14 Marlon Taylor - 5.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 17.0 MPG
#4 Skylar Mays - 13.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, 28.7 MPG
#1 Ja’Vonte Smart - 11.2 PPG, 3.0 APG, 29.4 MPG
#11 Kavell Bigby-Williams - 7.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 16.4 MPG
#0 Naz Reid - 12.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 23.1 MPG