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LSU basketball assistant coach Pinkins leaving staff

LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones will have to tinker with his coaching staff some more this summer.

Jones announced Monday that Al Pinkins, who was hired just more than a year ago, is leaving the LSU program to pursue another coaching opportunity.

Jones now has to find two coaches for his staff to replace Pinkins and Ronald Dupree, his director of student-athlete development.

Dupree resigned to accept a position on the staff of Nevada coach Eric Musselman, another former LSU assistant coach who left the program following the 2014-15 season.

Assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator David Patrick also left in April to take a job at TCU.

Jones subsequently hired Robert Kirby, who was a member of Jones’ original staff at LSU in 2012-13, to fill Patrick’s position.

A native of Camilla, Georgia, Pinkins came to LSU in April 2015 after coaching at Tennessee for one season. Prior to that, he was on the staff at Ole Miss for three years.

Prior to his Southeastern Conference stops at Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU, Pinkins coached at Middle Tennessee State for eight seasons.

“We appreciate all of Coach Pinkins’ contributions to our program last season,” Jones said in a university news release. “We wish him and his family all the best.”

Pinkins played college basketball at Chipola Junior College and North Carolina State, where he earned his degree in 1998.

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LSU had third-highest increase in paid attendance in 2016

The LSU men’s basketball team posted the third-highest increase in the country in paid attendance from the 2014-15 season to the 2015-16 season, according to figures released Wednesday by the NCAA.

The Tigers averaged 11,382 fans for 18 games at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in 2015-16 for an increase of 2,485 per game over their 2014-15 figure of 8,897 a game.

This past season, four LSU games were classified as sellouts with at least 13,215 tickets sold.

LSU finished third behind Maryland, which had an increase of 5,169 paid attendance and Alabama, who improved by 2,934 over the previous season.

LSU, which ranked 35th in the nation in paid attendance per game, was one of 43 Division I schools to average more than 10,000 tickets sold this season.

The Southeastern Conference finished second in the country in total average attendance for its 240 games at 11,144, an increase of 325 from last season.

The SEC was only one of two conferences in the top 12 in the country (with the Pac-12) to show an increase in average attendance from 2015-to-2016.

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Former LSU player Hamilton earns honors in Spanish league

Former LSU player Justin Hamilton was recently named the best power forward in the Endesa League in Spain.

Hamilton, a second team All-Southeastern Conference pick when the Tigers earned an NIT invite in 2011-12, was also voted first-team All-Endesa League and was second in the MVP voting after leading Valencia Basket Club into the playoffs.

Hamilton was also the second choice of the league’s coaches and the third choice of players, fans and media voting for the MVP honor after averaging 14.2 points and 5.1 rebounds during the regular season for Valencia.

A transfer from Iowa State, Hamilton sat out the 2010-11 season before playing just one season with the Tigers. He entered the NBA draft in 2012 and was a second-round pick, the 45th overall selection, by the Philadelphia 76ers.

He was later traded to the Miami Heat and has also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Hornets, averaging 5.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 49 games played in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

In 2014, he was named to the Futures All-Star roster for the NBA D-League All-Star Game while playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce before being signed by the Heat.

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Former LSU star Ben Simmons to bypass Olympic Games

Former LSU forward Ben Simmons,  who is projected as the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June, will not play in the 2016 Olympic Games for his native Australia.

ESPN reported Friday night that Simmons, who was named last May as one of 26 candidates for Team Australia, told officials from that organization that he will concentrate on playing for whatever team chooses him in the draft rather than travel to Rio de Janeiro.

“Ben Simmons will postpone playing with the Australian Olympic team this summer in order to concentrate fully on his NBA activities following the upcoming 2016 NBA draft,” Rich Paul, Simmons’ agent, said in a statement.

“Australian Olympic Team training and competition takes place at the same time as the various NBA summer development programs, and therefore, Ben will look forward to his national team participation at some time later in his career.”

The 19-year-old Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for LSU and was a first-team All-America pick as well as the consensus national freshman of the year.

Simmons reportedly told Australian team representatives that he is open to playing for the team in the future, perhaps as soon as the summer of 2018.

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LSU among five teams UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish is considering

CBS Sports reported Thursday that LSU is among five teams UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish, a New Orleans native, is considering after leaving the Runnin’ Rebels’ program.

Cornish, a 6-foot-6 guard, was a three-time all-state selection at Brother Martin High School before playing his first two seasons at UNLV.

He is also reportedly considering Houston, Cal, Washington and Iowa State. Cornish committed to Tennessee two years ago before Vols coach Cuonzo Martin left to take the job at Cal.

This past season, Cornish averaged 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists while playing 21.6 minutes per game. He shot 35.4 percent from the field — 30.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

As a freshman, Cornish averaged 5.5 points and 1.6 rebounds while playing 16.3 minutes per game. He shot 48.7 percent from 3-point range (38-of-78), which ranks second all-time for a single season in school history, and 42.4 percent for all field goals.

As a high school senior, Cornish averaged 23.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

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Duke favored to win 2017 NCAA title; LSU fourth among SEC schools at 100-1

With the 2015-16 college basketball season in the rear view mirror, it’s not too early to take a look at next season and the odds of enjoying “One Shining Moment” like Villanova did Monday.

According to Bovada of Las Vegas, Duke is the early favorite to win the NCAA title with odds of 9 to 2, followed by Kentucky (6-1), Villanova (8-1) and Kansas and Louisville (10-1 each).

The top 10 is rounded out by Michigan State and North Carolina (both 12-1), and Indiana, Oregon and Virginia (all 20-1).

LSU, which is losing at least four of its top seven players from a 19-14 squad, is one of nine teams listed at 100 to 1. That’s tied for fourth among Southeastern Conference schools.

Among SEC teams, Kentucky is followed by Texas A&M (66-1), Florida (75-1) and the threesome of LSU, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt — all at 100-1.

They’re followed by Tennessee and South Carolina (200-1); Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss (250-1); and Missouri (300-1).

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Former LSU forward Ben Simmons chosen AP second-team All-American

Former LSU forward Ben Simmons was chosen as a second-team All-American by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Simmons, who officially announced last week he was entering the NBA draft and hired an agent, earlier was chosen a first-team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and was a third-team pick by USA Today.

Earlier this month, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Simmons was named national freshman of the year by USA Today, The Sporting News and the USBWA.

Simmons was one of three Southeastern Conference players named to the AP All-American squad. Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis was a first-team pick and teammate Jamal Murray, also a guard, was on the third team.

Other first-team selections were Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and North Carolina’s Brice Johnson.

Hield and Valentine were unanimous picks in the voting of 65 media members.

Joining Simmons on the second team were Utah’s Jakob Poeltl, Providence’s Kris Dunn, Kansas’ Perry Ellis and Iowa State’s Georges Niang.

The third team was made up of Murray, Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, Duke’s Grayson Allen and Oakland’s Kay Felder.

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LSU forward Ben Simmons tabbed for Wayman Tisdale Award

LSU forward Ben Simmons picked up another major award Wednesday when he was chosen by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association to receive the Wayman Tisdale Award as national freshman of the year.

It’s the third national freshman of the year award for the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Simmons, who earlier was tabbed for the same honor by USA Today and The Sporting News.

Simmons was also named to the USBWA’s five-man Freshman All-America team. He’s joined on the team by the other Tisdale Award finalists: Cal’s Jaylen Brown, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, Duke’s Brandon Ingram of Duke and Kentucky’s Jamal Murray.

He also was named a first-team All-American by the USBWA on Monday and was that organization’s player of the year for District VII, which includes all college and universities in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.

Simmons also won the Freshman of the Year honors in the Southeastern Conference in a vote of the league’s 14 head coaches.

Simmons will be presented with the Tisdale Award at the College Basketball Awards gala and dinner on April 11 in Oklahoma City.

LSU’s Chris Jackson was the winner of the first national freshman of the year award presented by the USBWA following the 1988-89 season. Other notable winners include Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Chris Webber.

The award was named in 2011 for Tisdale, a former Oklahoma star who in 1983 became the first freshman to be chosen to the USBWA first-team All-America squad.

A 1984 U.S. Olympic Team star and a former NBA standout, Tisdale died of cancer in 2009.

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Former LSU coach Trent Johnson fired at TCU

TCU confirmed the firing Monday of head basketball coach Trent Johnson, who coached at LSU for four seasons from 2008 to 2012.

ESPN and CBS first reported the news Sunday night that Johnson had been fired after four seasons at TCU. He had two years remaining on the six-year contract he signed in April 2012.

Johnson left LSU after the 2011-12 season to accept the job at TCU. but struggled to have success at the Big 12 school. He was 50-79 overall and only 8-64 in conference play.

Johnson lost Kenrich Williams, his top returning scorer, before this season started and finished 12-21 overall with a 2-16 mark in the Big 12.

TCU was eliminated from the Big 12 tournament on Thursday with a loss to West Virginia.

In his four seasons at LSU, Johnson was 67-62 overall with a 25-39 record in regular-season Southeastern Conference play. In his first season in 2008-09, he led the Tigers to the SEC regular-season title and into the second round of the NCAA tournament.

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Opening Tip: LSU vs. No. 17 Texas A&M (SEC semifinals)

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game.

General Info

  • What: No. 4 seed LSU (19-13, 12-7 SEC) vs. No. 1 seed Texas A&M (25-7, 14-5 SEC)
  • When: Noon Saturday
  • Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Streaking: LSU (W1), Texas A&M (W7)
  • All-time series: LSU leads 18-15
  • Last meeting: LSU 76, Texas A&M 71 (Feb. 13, 2016 in Baton Rouge)
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: If LSU wins, it would play the winner of the Georgia-Kentucky game in the final at noon Sunday (ESPN).

Starting Five

  • CLEAN GAME: Tim Quarterman had seven assists and no turnovers in Friday’s win over Tennessee, the second time in the last three games he’s had at least five assists without a turnover. He had six assists and didn’t give it away in a win over Missouri on March 1 and now has 302 career assists.
  • DEFENSE RISES: In its 84-75 victory over Tennessee n the quarterfinals, LSU had a decided advantage in turnovers. The Tigers forced the Vols into 14 miscues and turned them into 21 points. On the other hand, LSU committed just seven turnovers — three in the decisive second half.
  • RUBBER MATCH: LSU and Texas A&M will play for the third time this season when they get together in the SEC tournament finals today. Each team won on its home floor earlier. A&M won 71-57 on Jan. 17 in College Station and LSU returned the favor with a 76-71 win in Baton Rouge.
  • BOUNCING BACK: Since its setback to LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, A&M has won seven games in a row. The Aggies won their final six games to earn a share of the SEC regular-season title and then beat Florida in the quarterfinals on Friday to set up the matchup with LSU.
  • GOING FOR 20: LSU will be going for its 20th win of the season Saturday. If successful, it would be the third consecutive season with at least 20 victories, the first time that’s happened since the Tigers had five 20-win seasons in a row between 1989 and 1993. LSU was 20-14 in 203-14 and 22-11 a year ago.

The Lineups

LSU (19-13, 12-7 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, Jr., 11.3 ppg, 3.8 apg
  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Sr., 5.4 ppg, 1.9 apg
  • G Antonio Blakeney, 6-4, Fr., 12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg
  • F Ben Simmons, 6-10, Fr., 19.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg
  • F Craig Victor, 6-9, So., 12.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, So., 4.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
  • G Brandon Sampson, 6-5, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg
  • F Aaron Epps, 6-9, So., 3.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg

Texas A&M (25-7, 14-5 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Anthony Collins, 6-1, Sr., 4.8 ppg, 4.4 apg
  • G Alex Caruso, 6-5, Sr., 7.8 ppg, 5.1 apg
  • G Danuel House, 6-7, Sr., 15.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
  • G/F Jalen Jones, 6-7, Sr., 15.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg
  • C Tyler Davis, 6-10, Fr., 11.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Admon Gilder, 6-3, Fr., 6.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • C Tonny Trocha-Morelos, 6-10, So., 6.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
  • G DJ Hogg, 6-8, Fr., 6.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg

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