After an unsuccessful road trip to help any odds of making the NCAA Tournament, the LSU Tigers return to the PMAC for their final home game of the 2017-18 season against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Both teams are fighting for better positioning in the log-jammed middle of the SEC standings, the Tigers holding a 16-13 (7-10) record to the Bulldogs’ 21-9 (9-8). If the Tigers can pull out a win and count on Georgia and South Carolina to lose to the top two teams in the conference, they’ll be guaranteed a first round bye in the SEC Tournament next week.
#15 Guard - Reed Vial
Reed Vial is a Finance major from Baton Rouge, LA, and was invited to walk-on the team for the 2016-17 season. Vial played in 15 games over his two seasons as a Tiger, and scored one point in his first appearance last season against Southern Miss.
#14 Guard - Randy Onwuasor
Randy Onwuasor is a grad transfer from Inglewood, California, and joined the Tigers this season after graduating from Southern Utah. Before his season with the Thunderbirds, Onwuasor spent his freshman and sophomore years as a Texas Tech Red Raider, where he played against and lost to LSU twice. Onwuasor started 9 games in 28 appearances for the Tigers this season, averaging 4.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 15.5 minutes.
#1 Forward - Duop Reath
Duop Reath is an Interdisciplinary Studies major from Perth, Australia, to which his family moved when he was nine years old to escape the civil war in Sudan. Reath transferred to LSU for the 2016-17 season as a JUCO from Lee College, and immediately made an impact in his first game as a Tiger, scoring 23 points, snagging 14 rebounds, and blocking 3 shots in a rout of Wofford. He’s logged nine double-doubles over 40 career games for the Tigers, including a career-high 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks performance against Vanderbilt in January.
Reath started 24 of LSU’s 29 games this season, averaging 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, and leading his squad with 27 blocks. Along with his signature hook shot, Reath will be remembered for his propensity to take open threes when he can, and actually leads the Tigers with a 44.1% shot from beyond the arc.
#21 Forward - Aaron Epps
Aaron Epps is an Interdisciplinary Studies major from Ball, Louisiana, and will be the first scholarship player to earn four full letters as a Tiger since Andre Stringer. About a foot taller than Stringer, Epps will also be remembered for his confident three point shot, especially from the corner. After something of a bench warmer his freshman season, Epps appeared in 29 games during the 2015-16 season, averaging 3.8 points. He logged his first career double-double against Gardner-Webb, scoring 10 points with 11 rebounds.
He would log two more double-doubles during his junior season, this time against the likes of Auburn and Ole Miss. It was during this season when Epps would put his long shot to frequent use, averaging 43.8% from beyond the arc, 6.2 points, and 4.4 rebounds over 30 games. His sweet shot immediately caught the eye of new coach Will Wade, who once described his interest in Epps’ shot and work ethic an “infatuation.” Through 24 starts in 28 games this season, Epps is averaging 9.5 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds. He recorded three more double-doubles this season, bringing his career total to six over 101 games for LSU.
Mississippi State turns out to be a bit tougher than expected this season, as they have already claimed 21 victories and are tied for sixth place in a very good SEC. Like South Carolina, the Bulldogs’ gameplan relies heavily on defense, although that side of the ball has struggled a bit in conference play. They’re one of the worst three point shooting teams in the nation, but definitely no slouch in the post.
The Bulldogs’ key factor for this game comes in the form of small forward Quinndary Weatherspoon. The junior from Canton, Mississippi has started every game for the Bulldogs this season, logging a pair of double-doubles. In seventeen SEC games, Weatherspoon has only twice failed to score double digits.
Projected Mississippi State Bulldogs Starting 5
#11 SF - Quinndary Weatherspoon: 14.8 PPG, 3.7 APG, 31.3 minutes
#1 PG - Lamar Peters: 9.0 PPG, 4.1 APG, 26.2 minutes
#0 SG/SF - Nick Weatherspoon: 11.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 28.4 minutes
#24 C - Abdul Ado: 8.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 26.4 minutes
#23 SG - Tyson Carter: 8.9 PPG, 1.4 APG, 23.4 minutes
This afternoon’s game will tip off at about noon, and will be televised on the SEC Network. You can listen in on the radio at 98.1 FM, or follow along in the comments below or via my live tweets @marq113. Be sure to show up and be loud for our seniors and the rest of the team in their final game in the PMAC this season, they sure as hell deserve it.