No. 23 LSU at VCU
When and Where: Wednesday, Nov. 13, Siegel Center, Richmond, Va., 6 p.m. EST.
Will Wade's past and present collide in Richmond on Wednesday night when he leads his current squad -- 23rd-ranked LSU -- against his former team, a VCU side looking to replace the Tigers in the national rankings.
Wade set for homecoming at raucous SiegelThe 36-year-old Wade was on Shaka Smart's staff from 2009-13 and part of the 2011 VCU team that went from the First Four to the Final Four. He remained with Smart for two more years before leaving to take the Chattanooga job in 2013. Wade led the Mocs to 40 wins in two seasons before returning to VCU after Smart left for Texas.
Wade went 51-20 in his two seasons with the Rams, earning NCAA Tournament berths in both seasons, which put him on LSU's radar after the Tigers parted ways with Johnny Jones in 2017.
Wade arrived in Baton Rouge and after making the NIT in a transition season, guided LSU to the SEC regular-season title and a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. The season, though, was not without controversy as Wade was caught up in the FBI probe into recruiting irregularities and was suspended three games by the school in March.
One of the conditions of taking the LSU job was VCU getting a home-and-home series, something it worked out previously when Smart took over the Longhorns. The Rams split that series, with the road team winning both games, and Wade will be trying to follow suit.
"Oh the atmosphere there is incredible on any night," Wade said at his Monday media availability. "It will be turned up even more, I’m sure, for us. It’s a great place. VCU is a great place.
"They’ve got a tremendous administration who really, really supports the basketball program. Coach (Mike) Rhoades is an awesome, awesome coach. He’s done a phenomenal job there and he’ll continue to do a really, really good job. ... Every game is a sellout. They love their basketball and they’ve got a really good team. They’ve got a team picked to win the league. They’ve got good players. It will be rowdy, but it should be fun.”
LSU opened its season with an 88-79 victory over Bowling Green on Friday night as Emmitt Williams and Javonte Smart scored 21 points apiece to pace five players in double figures. Williams, who made his contributions off the bench, also pulled down seven rebounds in in 31 minutes as the Tigers began figuring out who would replace the production of Tremont Waters and Naz Reid.
More life. 🎉‼️ pic.twitter.com/GWIpGfPCct— Trendon Watford (@Trendon_2) November 9, 2019
An early area of concern for Wade was turnovers. LSU committed 16 and forced only nine against the Falcons. While the latter is not a pressing issue, facing an intense Rams defense that is among the nation's best has gotten Wade's attention regarding valuing the basketball.
"We can’t turn the ball over the way we’ve been turning the ball over," Wade said. "We turned it over 16-18 times a game in the exhibition and in the game on Friday night. If we do that it will be a long night Wednesday night.
"We’ve got to clean up a lot of the turnovers. ... Part of it was we got a little bit fatigued. I’ve got to do a better job subbing and making sure our guys aren’t out there as tired as they are. We’ve got to clean that up.”
Rams out to suffocate Tigers with constrictive 'D'VCU ranked sixth in defensive field goal percentage (38.7) and 10th in scoring defense at 61.9 points per game in 2018-19, and the early returns this season is Rhoades' team can be even better on that side of the ball.
The Rams (2-0) have held both their opponents under 60 points after grinding past North Texas 59-56 on Friday night. They held the Mean Green to 40.4 percent shooting and hit 10 of 26 from 3-point range -- including two key ones late by Mike'L Simms.
Despite the win, the Rams fell out of the AP Top 25 and are on the outside looking in for this contest.
“That was a grind,” Rhoades told The Associated Press. “It was a good test for us even though when we got the lead we couldn’t keep it.”
De'Riante Jenkins and Marcus Evans pace VCU in scoring at 14.0 and 12.5 points per game, respectively. Marcus Santos-Silva will try to regroup after totaling three points and seven rebounds -- the junior forward had 21 points and 18 rebounds in the season-opening victory over St. Francis of Pennsylvania.
Rhoades has yet to beat a ranked team since taking over VCU in 2017, going 0-4.
- 0-5 ATS in its last five games.
- 0-5 ATS in its last five non-conference games.
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games following an ATS loss.
- 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games following a straight up win.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games vs. SEC teams.