NCAA Baseball Championships:
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2/11/18 5:45 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Well, rainy weather derailed my potato planting plans, but it was nice to plop myself down in front of the tube and watch the LSU men’s basketball team put together a brilliant second half to beat Ole Miss 82-66 at home. Ole Miss has yet to win a game on the road, and LSU made sure it wasn’t going to let that first happen in the PMAC. With another strong defensive effort and stellar performances from Duop Reath and Skylar Mays, the Tigers defended their home turf and captured their fifth SEC win of the season.
Here’s how it played out:
If you were one of those who entered the contest with concerns about Ole Miss’ physicality, Reath put those worries to rest rather quickly. LSU couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the game, as the Tigers went ahead 8-0 thanks to Aaron Epps and Reath taking advantage of Ole Miss’ four-guard look and scoring 12 of LSU’s first 14 points. While LSU dominated inside the paint – 20 of LSU’s first half points came inside – Will Wade continued to demand excellence on the defensive end. So much so that he actually called a timeout and replaced Tremont Waters with Skylar Mays after giving a stern talking to his star. LSU then went on an 8-0 run. For the record, Waters came back in shortly and played with the type of aggression on defense we’re used to seeing from him. Still, you have to give it to Wade for not being afraid to take his best player out of the game in that situation. As for Reath, he’s had a lot of great performances this season, but his first half against Ole Miss might have been his best yet. Reath was a nightmare inside, and even added a triple to his point total in the half. He had 18 points before halftime, by the way. His 3-pointer followed by Randy Onwuasor’s gave the Tigers a 13-point lead with six-and-a-half minutes to go. But then LSU struggled down the stretch as turnover after turnover opened the door for Ole Miss to go on an 11-0 run and take a 35-34 lead. LSU’s consistent turnovers made it so the Tigers only had two shots in five minutes of action. A deep Waters 3-pointer tied the game at 37 at the half.
The Tigers started the second half on a 7-1 run. Skylar Mays hit a 3-pointer and then drove to the basket for a big dunk to put the Tigers up by six. A much less competitive second half was highlighted by a Sports Center highlight reel dunk by Epps who skied through the air and dunked on an Ole Miss defender. Put that one on a poster. LSU padded its cushion when the team went on a 9-0 run, which was highlighted by a hustle put-back by Wayde Sims and breakaway dunk by Mays. That gave LSU a 15-point advantage and from then on out the game was never in doubt. LSU shot 50 percent from the field in the runaway victory. Reath had his way in the first half, but Mays had his fun in the second. Mays scored 15 points in the half and finished with 17. Reath led the team in scoring with 26, and Waters finished the game with 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds. LSU improved to 14-10 on the year and 5-7 in conference play.
Up next for the Tigers is a matchup on the road against Alabama at 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Now switching gears to football, it’s time to continue our series on the top six vote-getters from our poll asking, “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2018 season?” Yesterday we profiled Chris Curry, the Tigers’ first out-of-state running back signee in nearly a decade, and today we’ll go with our fifth-place winner, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
WR, 6-1, 195, Harvey, La. (Rummel)
(5th in our poll with 11.5% of the vote)
Forget that Chase, a 5-star recruit, is ranked by some services as the second best receiver in the class behind Terrace Marshall. He might wind up being better and stands to be Marshall’s perfect compliment, much like Jarvis Landry was to Odell Beckham Jr. At 6-1, 195 pounds, Chase is a bit smaller than Marshall (6-3, 200) but he's got a more compact build and is generally considered stronger with good short-route running ability. He’s also got the speed and skills to be a deep threat and really knows how to pile up yards after the catch. With both 2017 starters D.J. Chark and Russell Gage departing, Chase will have an opportunity to play right away, though he’ll have plenty of competition from a deep and talented pool of returning receivers, not to mention the other newcomers who help make this year’s signing class of receivers the nation’s best.
Chase is the most prolific receiver in Rummel history with school records in career yards (2,152), single-season yards (1,011) and receptions in a season (61). He caught 15 TD passes last season, 30 in his high school career, and was also the Class 5A state long jump champion as a junior. Make no mistake about it, this was a great get by LSU and a tough one at that. Chase originally committed to Kansas, committed to Florida, came close to committing to TCU, and then nearly spurned LSU for Auburn at the last minute. The LSU coaching staff thought enough of him to make one last home visit in which the entire staff – defensive coaches included – showed up at his home. His passion for LSU helped pull him through as he signed in a tearful, emotional ceremony. Here’s hoping, and predicting, he’ll play with that same kind of passion. Check out Chase’s video highlights.
Stay tuned for our write-up on defensive back Kelvin Joseph, who came in fourth in our poll.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting awfully pumped about LSU baseball which is set to begin in five days when LSU takes on Notre Dame for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. One player who will be critical to LSU’s success in the opener and throughout the season is junior right-hander Caleb Gilbert. I mention that just because if you’re someone who enjoys spending your Sunday morning with a big cup of joe and a good read, you’ll want to check out this piece by Pulitzer Prize winner Jeff Marx: “Caleb Gilbert never met Wally Pontiff – but the LSU legend has always inspired him.”
And if you’re like me and getting tired of all the negativity coming from a certain segment of the LSU football fanbase, you might appreciate this brief piece by GridIron Now. In it, former Tiger and current NFL standout Joe Barksdale heaps praise on new LSU offensive line coach James Cregg, saying, “He’s going to be known as one of the best offensive line coaches in football if he stays in college that long.” Barskdale should know. He’s was coached by him at San Diego.
• The LSU women’s basketball team (15-7, 7-4 SEC) is set to host No. 14 Texas A&M in a return game today at 2 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed online via SECN+. With Mardi Gras season in full swing, fans attending the game will receive a Mardi Gras beads t-shirt, beads, and King Cake will be served. Also, before the game, the Lady Tigers will host a Mommy & Me Clinic at 12:15 p.m. in the Women’s Basketball Practice Gym.
• If you’re wondering what happened in LSU softball yesterday… all of LSU’s games were rained out. Below is a schedule of today’s games, all of which will be free admission. Any fans who purchased tickets for Saturday will be refunded next week.
UT Arlington vs. Southern Miss (resumed game) – 8:30 a.m.
Syracuse vs. Southern Miss – 9:30 a.m.
LSU vs. UMass – 12 p.m.
Please note that I won’t be doing a Monday Morning Mail Call this week. Instead, it’s me who’ll be asking questions of Mike Detillier for our new Q&A on the topic of LSU’s signing class. Be sure to tune in for that tomorrow. Mike is a straight-shooter and I always enjoy getting his thoughts. I’m sure you will too.
Have a great Sunday, Tiger Fans.
2/10/18 6:00 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First, I want to thank all of you who voted in our poll asking, “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2018 season?” With nearly 7,000 votes cast, the top vote-getters were WR Terrace Marshall (21.4%), OL Badara Traore (20.4%), K Cole Tracy (11.9%), CB Kelvin Joseph (11.7%), Ja’Marr Chase (11.5%) and RB Chris Curry (7.8%). In today’s report, we’ll begin a series in which we briefly profile these six Tigers, starting with Curry. Here we go…
RB, 5-11, 200, Lehigh Acres, Fla.
(6th in our poll with 7.8% of the vote)
In Thursday’s report, I mentioned that Curry might be the sleeper of this class. I said that because a lot of Tiger fans simply don’t know much about this four-star back from Lehigh Acres, Florida, relative to what they knew about the previous eleven running backs LSU signed. Those eleven were Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Lanard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Nick Brosette, Leonard Fournette, Darrel Williams, Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Terrance Magee, Alfred Blue, and Michael Ford, and what they have in common is that they are all from Louisiana. In fact, I had to go all the way back to 2009 to find the last time LSU signed a pure running back from outside the state. (Spencer Ware signed in 2010 but as an ATH, not a RB.) That last guy was four-star Drayton Calhoun of Clarkston, Ga. who ended up seeing action in only one game in two years before transferring to Middle Tennessee State. With LSU having to replace its two leading backs from last year’s team, Tiger Fans are counting on this out-of-state RB faring much better than that last one, and they won’t be disappointed.
Curry was lured to LSU by recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Tommie Robinson, a man Curry says is like a father figure to him. What Robinson recognized in Curry early on was a young man with an extremely strong work ethic and a violent downfield running style that some have likened to that of Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. That is to say, he doesn’t only run around defenders, he often runs right through them. (See Curry’s impressive “Beat Mode” highlights video.) Despite suffering an ankle injury that derailed parts of his senior season, Curry still amassed 764 yards and 13 touchdowns on 112 carries as a senior, finishing the season with an average of 6.8 yards-per-carry in seven games. This caught the attention of schools all across the country and garnered him offers from programs like Florida, Ole Miss, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Oregon, just to name a few. Curry will arrive at LSU in August and look to quickly secure a spot in LSU’s running back depth chart which is currently wide open.
In a subsequent report, we’ll take a look at wide receiver JaMarr Chase who came in at No. 5 in our poll.
Turning to hoops, The LSU men’s basketball team must refocus after a hard-fought road loss to Florida because a capable Ole Miss team is coming to town today. LSU and Ole Miss are in similar boats, as both teams enter this contest with a 4-7 conference record. The Rebels have lost seven of their last 10 games with all three of those wins coming at home. Those three home wins, by the way, came against good teams in Florida, Mississippi State and Alabama. But Ole Miss has proven to be a much different team on the road. In fact, in Ole Miss’ last two road trips (against Texas and Tennessee), the Rebels lost by a combined 46 points. The Rebels can score with anybody and are third in assists in the conference on the season, so the Tigers will need to replicate last Saturday’s high-intensity defensive effort to pull one out today. The NCAA tournament chances might have slipped by this LSU Tiger team, but this remains the building block for what Will Wade and his staff will do at LSU for years to come. For that reason, I hope LSU fans show up and support this team. Plus, you never want to lose to Ole Miss in any sport. Those who want to watch the game and can’t make it to the PMAC can tune into ESPNU at 3 p.m.
Believe it or not, one week from today we’ll be discussing the outcome of LSU baseball’s first game against Notre Dame. This team enters the season-opener with a ton of talent to go along with a ton of question marks, the latest of which is will projected starting catcher Hunter Feduccia be able to play in it after suffering a small bone fracture in his left hand last week. According to this article by Tiger Rag, Feduccia himself thinks he’ll be ready next Friday, though Coach Mainieri has said he will have to see him play in a live scrimmage by Tuesday for that to happen. If he is not available for the opener, Mainieri says Nick Coomes is up to the task and has been looking great now that he’s fully recovered from hip surgery. “Honestly, and I told Hunter and Nick Coomes this, if Nick had been out there all fall looking the way he looks now, he would have competed for the job,” Mainieri said. Other than Feduccia and Coomes, LSU has only one other pure catcher on the roster in freshman Braden Doughty.
• The LSU softball team improved to 3-0 on the young season with a doubleheader sweep yesterday. In the first game, LSU defeated UT-Arlington 9-2. In the nightcap, the Tigers defeated Southern Mississippi, 4-0. You can read all about the two wins here.
• Coach D-D Breaux’s LSU gymnastics team was also victorious last night, defeating No. 24 Missouri by a score of 197.150 to 196.375. LSU struggled a bit on beam but had season-highs on vault and floor. Here’s a full recap.
• That’s it for today. Please note that I’m working on a new Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU’s signing class that I hope to have ready to run on Monday. As they say, stay tuned!
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