There a lot of areas in which Northwestern State (2-8) must execute to near-perfection to hang with No. 24 LSU on Tuesday, but these three facets take precedence against a Tigers team that crashes the boards while bludgeoning opponents with their various presses.
Fans can catch the 6 p.m. game on the SEC Network, on radio at 95.9 FM Kix Country:
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LSU (9-0) has held all nine of its opponents to 63 points or fewer while holding foes to 34 percent shooting from the field.
“We’ve really got to focus on blocking out,” said NSU associate head coach Jeff Moore, who was acting head coach with Mike McConathy battling the flu. “They crash all five guys on the boards and are great rebounders.
“LSU has four different presses, so that’ll take some preparation on our part. But we have to take care of the ball because LSU has a lot of length at every position, are well coached, and runs about 100 different plays to move people around and create mismatches. We have to stick to our principles against them, sit down and guard and rebound.”
NSU’s offense got a shot in the arm Saturday when the Demons scored 89 points against Dallas Christian and shot 51 percent from the field.
The Demons returned a key cog in point guard Carvell Teasett, who made his season debut Saturday (89-67 win against Dallas Christian) after averaging nine points and two assists this past season.
Teasett, one of two Baton Rouge natives that will have a homecoming Tuesday, contributed nine points and five assists as he regained his game legs with 23 minutes of action.
“It’s a big thing to get a game under me because you can get warm, get a feel for the game,” said Teasett, a Scotlandville High product. “I hadn’t played in a game since March, and playing in this game allowed me to get a feel for my teammates in a game situation and see how they play.
“It means a lot to go back to my hometown. Most of my friends are coming, so them seeing me play is going to mean a lot and seeing them cheering me on is going to be special.”
Teasett’s absence has allowed freshman point guard Emareyon McDonald to better acclimate to the college game, and McDonald hasn’t disappointed offensively with seven points and 2.6 assists per game while leading the team with 16 3-pointers (38 percent from deep).
McDonald has a Baton Rouge connection in that he finished his high school career at Scotlandville High after transferring from Red River High in his native Coushatta.
McDonald (ineligible as high school junior because of transfer rules) watched as Teasett led the Hornets to their fourth straight state title (Teasett was a part of all four titles) before McDonald took his turn, guiding Scotlandville to the title game in an eventual loss.
“All of my family and friends will be there, so it’ll be good,” said McDonald, who as a consensus three-star recruit is NSU’s most highly rated signee since Jalan West in 2011. “We’ll get out there, play hard and play as a team.
“I’ve watched (junior point guard Brian White) and (Teasett) every day. Brian gets his teammates involved and Carvell is going to score, so I’ve watched them and built on to my game.”
The return of Teasett gives NSU another perimeter scorer and ball handler that should create more space inside for posts like leading scorer Kendal Coleman (15.9 points per game), one of four Demons who missed Saturday’s game with flu-like symptoms.
“Carvell is very talented and experienced, and he’s also been able to sit back and watch some things. “It’s very important for him to play against Dallas Christian before we head into a very talented LSU team.”
NSU point guards have combined for 58 assists to 34 turnovers, but the Demons will need to reverse a recent trend of increased team turnovers to limit LSU’s transition opportunities.
After committing just 46 turnovers in their first four games, which included trips to Oklahoma, Tulsa and SMU, the Demons have turned it over 102 times in the last six games.
The Demons have held their own on the glass for the most part, outrebounding six of their 10 opponents, including Oklahoma, Louisiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin and once against ULM. The two outliers that contribute to NSU’s -2.9 rebounding margin are a -30 at SMU and a -20 at then-No. 15 Houston.
NSU’s challenging schedule continues with its second ranked opponent and fifth Power Five or American Conference member, one of seven such opponents this season. The Demons are just one of six teams nationally to schedule at least seven Power Five or significant mid-major opponents.
Five of NSU’s eight losses have been against teams in the top half of the initial NCAA NET rankings, including regional powers Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin.
CREDIT: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services