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LSU to learn 2015-16 SEC schedule on Wednesday night

The Southeastern Conference will release the league’s 2015-16 basketball schedule for all 14 men’s teams at 6 p.m. Wednesday on the SEC Network.

LSU has yet to announce its entire nonconference schedule, but 10 of the Tigers’ 12 games they will play out of conference have been revealed through various sources.

Here is the schedule that’s known so far:

Friday, Nov. 13            McNeese State

Monday, Nov. 16         Kennesaw State

Thursday, Nov. 19       South Alabama

Monday, Nov. 23          Marquette*

Tuesday, Nov. 24          N.C. State/Arizona State*

Monday, Nov. 30           at College of Charleston

Sunday, Dec. 13             at Houston

Wednesday, Dec. 16  Gardner-Webb

Tuesday, Dec. 29          Wake Forest

Saturday, Jan. 30         Oklahoma**

* Legends Classic (at Barclays Center, Brooklyn)

** SEC/Big 12 Challenge


LSU wins Australia opener behind Simmons 22 points, 10 rebounds

The LSU men’s basketball team kicked off its Australian exhibition tour Saturday night (Saturday morning Baton Rouge time) with an 89-75 victory over the Newcastle All-Stars in Newcastle.

Aussie native Ben Simmons, returning to the town he began playing the sport in as a youngster, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his first game in an LSU uniform. He added four assists, three blocks and two steals.

Simmons started and played 37 minutes in his debut. He was joined in the starting lineup by guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby and Antonio Blakeney, another highly-regarded freshman, and center Darcy Malone.

Hornsby had 17 points and Blakeney had 16, while Quarterman contributed 13 points and six assists. Malone, a native of Canberra, had six points and five rebounds in his homecoming.

Hornsby and Blakeney had hot hands from the field as the Tigers, playing their first game in a five-game tour of the country, shot just under 50 percent from the field in making 33 of 68 field goals.

Hornsby was 6 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc, while Blakeney was 6 of 10.

Games played under international rules consist of four 10-minute quarters.

LSU led 42-36 at halftime and 64-59 after three quarters before pulling away in the final period.

LSU will play the Sydney Kings of the Australian National Basketball League at 7 p.m. Sunday (4 a.m. Baton Rouge time). The game will be broadcast by the Kings radio network and streamed on LSU’s Website at

More to come on the LSU-Newcastle game later.

Sheldon Mickles

LSU football coach Les Miles eyeing basketball star Ben Simmons

Like a lot of other people, LSU football coach Les Miles can’t wait to see heralded freshman basketball player Ben Simmons in a purple and gold uniform for the first time.

In a football uniform, that is, down on the goal line in Tiger Stadium.

“I can tell you that we look forward to watching him and supporting him fully … what a magnificent player,” Miles said of the 6-foot-10 Simmons, who was the nation’s top recruit this winter. “If he’s interested in taking some snaps for us, he could come over — very honestly — and I can give him a goal-line position where I would throw it to him.

“All he’s got to prove to me is one thing: That he can catch,” he said. “If he can catch, which certainly we would all predict in this room that he could, he would set the NCAA record for touchdowns.”

He said he would line Simmons up in the red zone and if the opponents put three defenders on him, they would run the ball. With only two defenders on Simmons, they would throw it to him.

Miles said he was serious, adding, “I am dead serious. … All you have to do is get me anywhere 6-9 and above, very athletic with ball skills, I guarantee it. Why would we run the ball? We could just throw it over there to him.”

Asked if LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones would be OK with his plan, Miles chuckled and said, “I think Johnny would have a fit.”

LSU guard Josh Gray not on Australia trip despite tweet

LSU point guard Josh Gray caused a stir Wednesday evening when he posted via Twitter a message of support for his teammates upon their arrival for a 13-day Australian exhibition tour.

Gray, who was left behind when the Tigers departed from campus Tuesday afternoon because he participated in an unsanctioned game over the weekend, tweeted the following message @ThatsJoshGray:

Safe landing, now let’s get to work LSU Basketball! Im locked in all 5 games! .

 Some took that to mean he had been cleared to play and was with the team even though coach Johnny Jones had announced Monday afternoon that the senior from Lake Charles wouldn’t be along on the trip while LSU Compliance looked into the issue.

LSU Athletic Department officials Wednesday night confirmed that Gray did not accompany the team on the trip and that he apparently posted the tweet in support of his teammates.

LSU guard Josh Gray won’t accompany team to Australia

When the LSU basketball team departs campus Tuesday afternoon for its much-anticipated exhibition tour of Australia, senior point guard Josh Gray won’t be traveling with the Tigers.

LSU coach Johnny Jones announced Monday afternoon that Gray, a Lake Charles native, won’t be making the trip because he played in a basketball game that wasn’t sanctioned beforehand by LSU Compliance.

“Over the last 48 hours, we had a little bit of a setback with Josh Gray playing in some type of game that wasn’t sanctioned prior to checking with our compliance people,” Jones said. “Until compliance goes through whatever issues that they have to and filter things out, I won’t have any further comment on it.”

When asked if the situation could affect Gray’s status with the basketball team for the upcoming season, Jones said he didn’t yet have an answer on that.

“Again, we won’t know any of that until we visit with compliance,” he said, “and they’re in the middle of dealing with that now. Until compliance finishes its findings, he will not be a part of our team.”

In his first season at LSU last year, Gray, a transfer from Odessa (Texas) Junior College, played in 31 games last season with 20 starts. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game.

With Gray out of the picture for the five-game exhibition tour against Australian pro teams, which begins with a game on Saturday against the Newcastle All-Stars, Jones said sophomore Jalyn Patterson will slide into the backup point guard spot behind starter Tim Quarterman.

Patterson played some point guard last season, but was primarily a backup to shooting guard Keith Hornsby.

“We moved Jalyn over to the point guard spot, which he’s done a great job of picking things up quickly,” Jones said. “We’ve had a couple of really good days of practice there.”

LSU to face Marquette in opening game of Legends Classic

The LSU men’s basketball team has known for nine months that it would participate in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York, along with three potential opponents, in the two-day event this November.

On Thursday morning, the Tigers learned who they will play and tipoff time.

ESPN and tournament officials announced LSU will face Marquette in the opening game of the Legends Classic on Monday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. CST in the Barclays Center.

The game will be televised by ESPN2.

The second game of the first night will have North Carolina State facing Arizona State in the Barclays Center, which serves as the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

The two winners of the opening-night games will meet the next evening at 7 p.m. CST for the tournament title on ESPN2. The losers from the first night will play in a consolation game at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

A possible LSU-North Carolina State matchup in the final or the consolation game would be interesting because N.C. State eliminated LSU from the NCAA tournament last March 19 with a last-seconds 66-65 victory in Pittsburgh.

North Carolina State forward BeeJay Anya connected on a left-handed hook in the lane with 0.1 seconds left, which capped an 18-3 run down the stretch for the Wolfpack and into the third round of the tournament.

Even with Thursday’s announcement by ESPN, LSU’s schedule for the upcoming season continues to be a work in progress with only a handful of nonconference games having been confirmed so far.

The Tigers will play home games on Nov. 16 against Kennesaw State and Nov. 19 against South Alabama in a pair of contests that are connected to the Legends Classic as regional-round games.

ESPN announced Thursday that the game with Kennesaw State will be televised by ESPNU.

LSU will also play at the University of Houston on Dec. 13, and host Gardner-Webb on Dec. 16 and Wake Forest on Dec. 29.

The Tigers also have a home game on Jan. 30 against Oklahoma as part of the Southeastern Conference/Big 12 Challenge.

The SEC schedule is expected to be released later this month.

LSU listed as No. 5 seed on Joe Lunardi’s debut bracket

If LSU is having full-scale practices two months before the start of its regular preseason workouts, which is permissible because of the Tigers’ 13-day  Australian tour that begins Tuesday, it can’t be too early for a little bracketology by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, can it?

Lunardi released his first bracket or the 2016 NCAA tournament on Tuesday, 7 1/2 months before the 68-team field is officially announced, and lists LSU as a No. 5 seed in the East Region.

That’s the second-highest seed for a Southeastern Conference team among the six league schools Lunardi penciled in on his bracket. LSU was paired with 12th-seeded Buffalo at Providence, Rhode Island.

Lunardi has Kentucky as a No. 1 seed, followed by LSU, Texas A&M (No. 7), Vanderbilt (No. 9), Georgia (No. 11) and Arkansas (No. 12).

Last season, the SEC had five teams in the NCAA tournament: Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss.

LSU forward Bridgewater sidelined by leg injury

LSU coach Johnny Jones said Tuesday that junior forward Brian Bridgewater has a leg injury and may not be able to play during the Tigers’ upcoming five-game exhibition tour of Australia.

During Tuesday’s practice, the fourth day the team was allowed to hold full-scale workouts in preparation for its trip, Bridgewater rode a stationary bike during a 30-minute window that the media was allowed to watch.

“Something happened and he wound up going to the doctor (Monday),” Jones said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to participate while we’re away. It’s going to be day-to-day for him.

“If he’s able to get better, he may be able to participate in a game or two. But he’s injured right now.”

Bridgewater averaged 2.2 points and 1.1 rebounds a game in 29 games last season, his first with the Tigers.

After a day off Wednesday, LSU will return to practice Thursday and continue that routine daily until departing for Australia on Aug. 11.

LSU men’s team kicks off preps for Australia trip

The LSU basketball team has begun preparations for its exhibition trip to Australia with practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

The Tigers began a 10-day practice period allowed by the NCAA on Saturday evening with a 1-hour, 40-minute workout that was closed to media and then worked again Sunday as they get ready for a 13-day trip that will include five games professional teams and all-star teams.

Besides the normal opening practice fundamentals, LSU worked on 5-on-5 defense, rebounding and shooting drills, according to a university news release. The team also began some offensive 5-on-0 walkthroughs and concluded with two competitive five-minute 5-on-5 full court sessions.

“It was a good first practice for us,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “It was great to watch the energy, effort and excitement of our players as they went through the drills. They practiced extremely hard. We have a long way to go, but I loved the effort from our guys (Saturday).”

Two big differences the Tigers will have to get used to is the type of ball used in Australia and an extended 3-point arc. The National Basketball League plays with the Molten tan and white paneled basketball and uses the international 6.75-meter 3-point line, which is 22 feet, 1 inch from the basket compared to the 20-9 of NCAA play. The team, which used the Molten brand basketballs, also practiced with the professional 24-second clock.

“It can be a mental thing if you allow it to,” Jones said. “But we are going to be practicing with those and getting used to it because that’s what we are going to have to play with when we get over there. It’s a little different, but it’s something I think our guys can get used to rather quickly.”

LSU will depart for the trip on the evening of Aug. 11, with games set for Aug. 15, 16, 18, 20 and 22.


LSU freshmen Simmons, Blakeney on ‘Top 50 Best Players’ list for 2015-16

LSU freshman Ben Simmons tops the list of the “The 50 Best Players in College Basketball for 2015-16″ published by USA Today’s Jason McIntyre.

Simmons’ teammate at LSU, incoming freshman Antonio Blakeney, also made the fifth annual preseason list put together by McIntyre, who ranks the players on four criteria: how they’ve played in college or in their last year in high school, how he projects them as a player next season, individual skill and value to the team, and how he projects them as a pro.

Simmons, a 6-foot-10 forward, was the nation’s top-ranked player for most of his senior season, but now gets top billing with a No. 1 ranking against all incoming freshmen and players returning to college next season.

Blakeney, a 6-4 shooting guard who was a summer ball teammate of Simmons the last couple of years in Florida, was 18th on McIntyre’s list.

A pair of Kentucky freshmen, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray, were second and third on the list behind Simmons.