▪ I’m the dope who told you Long Beach State would be a real test of which players the coaches trusted, blah, blah, blah. So there’s no reason to believe me when I say we will learn more about the Shockers today against the Tigers.
I’m serious this time.
While it’s not a mismatch, LSU is bigger and more athletic than the Shockers (who are sufficiently big and athletic), but we’ve seen this many times before.
One question is, how will WSU play against bigger athletes? The other question is, will LSU play as hard and as efficiently as the Shockers?
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▪ These are two of the youngest teams in the nation.
WSU, according to Ken Pomeroy, ranks No. 268 with an average of 1.43 seasons of experience on the roster. LSU is No. 337 with 1.02 (there are 351 teams in NCAA Division I).
Both teams are playing their first game outside their own comfy gyms.
▪ Tigers guard Antonio Blakeney averages 18.7 points and 34 minutes a game. There is no doubt he’s going to be on the court and with the ball almost always.
The Shockers will, as usual, throw multiple defenders at him, probably led by Zach Brown. Blakeney is 14 of 21 from the line, so while he’s not yet an ace foul shooter, he gets to the line. He’s upped his free throw rate from last season, even after going 12 for 17 in a game against Florida.
In today’s officiating climate, that’s a critical tool and the Shockers must limit his chances.
LSU forward Aaron Epps ranks No. 38 nationally in effective field goal percentage (which takes into account the worth of a three). He is 5 of 7 from three and 11 of 18 inside the arc. In his previous two seasons, Epps went 8 of 28 from three.
LSU forward Craig Victor is expected to play today after sitting out the first three games due to a violation of team rules.
He is a good scorer and rebounder who fouled out of eight of the 25 games he played in last season. In eight other games, he finished with four fouls, all in 26.9 minutes a game.
▪ This has been a great series for the Shockers in recent seasons.
In 2006, they beat No. 6 LSU 57-53 in Baton Rouge.
A 67-47 rout in 2007 in Wichita restored good feelings (after home losses to Texas-Arlington and UMKC) and provided the earliest indication of what was possible under first-season coach Gregg Marshall. The Shockers thoroughly dismantled the Tigers that night, so much so they weren’t interested enough to make even a routine run at a second-half rally.
In 2010, Garrett Stutz made a three with 7.3 seconds to play for a 70-69 win in Bossier City, La.
▪ Watching: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
▪ Listening: KEYN, 103.7-FM, goshockers.com
One sentence on each team
▪ Old Dominion (2-0) — Picked fifth in CUSA after losing 51 percent of its scoring from last season (Trey Freeman and Aaron Bacote).
▪ No. 10 Louisville (3-0) — Cardinals blocked 10 shots vs. Evansville and 11 vs. William & Mary.
▪ Wichita State (4-0) — Shockers lead the nation in bench points at 53.5.
▪ LSU (3-0) — Both the Shockers and Tigers will play in the 2017 Maui Invitational.
▪ Saint John’s (2-1) — Redshirt freshman guard Marcus LoVett averages 24.3 points and is 11 of 21 from three-point range.
▪ No. 24 Michigan State (2-2) — Former Sunrise Christian guard Tum Tum Nairn, who is from Nassau, averages 2.3 points and 4.8 assists.
▪ No. 20 Baylor (3-0) — The starting lineup is an average age of 21.9 years and all five are at least 21.
▪ VCU (3-0) — The Rams lost their exhibition game to NCAA Division II Queens (N.C.) 75-73.
Battle 4 Atlantis
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Wichita State vs. LSU, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Baylor vs. VCU, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Michigan State vs. Saint John’s, 6 p.m. (AXS TV)
Louisville vs. Old Dominion, 8:30 p.m. (AXS TV)
Michigan State-Saint John’s winner vs. Baylor-VCU winner, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Wichita State-LSU winner vs. Louisville-Old Dominion winner, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Michigan State-Saint John’s loser vs. Baylor-VCU loser, 6 p.m. (AXS TV)
Wichita State-LSU loser vs. Louisville-Old Dominion loser, 8:30 p.m. (AXS TV)
Third-place, noon (ESPN/ESPN2)
Championship, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Fifth-place, 6 p.m. (AXS TV)
Seventh-place, 8:30 p.m. (AXS TV)
How to watch
If the Shockers win, games are on ESPN or ESPN2.
If they fall into the losers bracket, games go to AXS TV.
AT&T U-Verse — 1106
DirecTV — 340
DISH — 167
Sling TV — sling.com
Cox Kansas does not carry AXS TV.