Five things to know about Kentucky basketball’s next opponent, the LSU Tigers:
1. LSU has a fantastic freshman of its own in Tremont Waters
The 5-foot-11 rookie out of New Haven, Conn., is averaging 17.1 points per game and leads the SEC in assists per game (6.4) and steals per game (2.5). He’s shooting 44.9 percent from three-point range (31-of-69).
Rated as the 40th best prospect by Rivals, Waters scored 27 points in his college debut against Alcorn State. He scored 21 points in an upset win over Michigan and 39 in a loss to Marquette in the Maui Invitational.
His last two games, Waters had 15 points and 10 assists in LSU’s win over North Florida and 18 points and eight assists in the Tigers’ 71-61 victory at Memphis.
2. Will Wade is one of the youngest coaches in the country
At age 35, the Nashville native is the second-youngest head coach among the Division I power conferences. Kentucky played the youngest on Friday. Louisville interim coach David Padgett was born Feb. 13, 1985. Wade was born Nov. 26, 1982. Minnesota’s Richard Pitino was born Sept. 16, 1982.
A student manager for Larry Shyatt all four of his years at Clemson, Wade was a grad assistant and director of basketball operations at Clemson before being hired by Tommy Amaker at Harvard. Wade joined Shaka Smart as an assistant at VCU in 2009 and was on the staff for the Rams’ 2011 trip to the Final Four.
He became head coach at Chattanooga in 2013-14, then succeeded Smart at VCU in 2015-16. Wade was 40-27 in his two years at Chattanooga. He went 51-20 in his two seasons at VCU, taking the Rams to the NCAA Tournament both years. In 2016, they beat No. 10 seed Oregon State before losing to Oklahoma, which reached the Final Four. In 2017, VCU lost to St. Mary’s in the first round.
3. The Tigers have been good at the offensive end
Ken Pomeroy ranks the Tigers 81st in overall adjusted efficiency and 220th in adjusted defensive efficiency. But Wade’s up-tempo attack ranks 23rd in adjusted offensive efficiency.
LSU is shooting 60.1 percent from two-point range, which ranks fourth nationally, and 51.5 overall, which ranks seventh overall. The Tigers are shooting 38 percent from three-point range, which ranks 72nd nationally.
One thing to watch: The Tigers have more than held their own on the offensive glass, grabbing 36.1 percent of their available offensive rebounds. That ranks 20th nationally.
4. LSU’s home attendance has picked up
Falling attendance helped get coach Johnny Jones fired after last season.
In 2015-16, with Ben Simmons on the roster, LSU showed the third largest attendance increase in the nation, going from 8,897 to 11,382, which ranked 35th in the nation.
Going 10-21 last season, LSU’s home attendance dropped 4,363 per game to an average of 7,019, which ranked 73rd in the nation. Jones was fired on March 10.
The energetic Wade has worked hard at promoting the program and so the Tigers are starting to see some dividends. A crowd of 11,856 turned out for his LSU debut, a 99-59 win over Alcorn State.
Despite a non-conference schedule lacking heavyweights, LSU is averaging 8,663 per game. That ranks eighth in the SEC, but should improve now that conference play is starting.
5. LSU hasn’t had much luck against UK since Dale Brown
The controversial Brown is the answer to this trivia question: Which opposing basketball coach owns the most victories over Kentucky?
Brown went 18-33 against the Cats. He’s followed by Billy Donovan (17-29), Ray Mears (15-15), Bobby Knight (15-18), Roy Skinner (14-18) and Dean Smith (13-3).
Since Brown retired after the 1996-97 season, LSU is just 6-20 against Kentucky. John Brady went 2-10. Trent Johnson went 2-4. Johnny Jones was 2-6. Brown’s winning percentage vs. UK was 35.3. His successors have posted a 23.1 win percentage against the Cats.
LSU’s last win over the Cats came Jan. 5, 2016, at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when the Tigers rolled 85-67. Tim Quarterman scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Arizona transfer Craig Victor added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Simmons scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
KENTUCKY AT LSU
When: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.
TV: SEC Network with Tom Hart and Jon Sundvold
Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
LSU men’s basketball 2017-18
vs. Notre Dame
Stephen F. Austin
at Texas A&M
at South Carolina