No. 23 LSU expects tough battle with UNC-Greensboro

STATS/TSX

No. 23 LSU rolled in its season opener Tuesday night.

But Tigers coach Will Wade expects a much more difficult time when his team returns to action with a home game against North Carolina-Greensboro on Friday.

LSU outscored Southeastern Louisiana, 33-9, in the final 13:30 of the first half to take a 48-18 halftime lead on its way to a 94-63 victory in the opener.

Six Tigers scored in double figures, the first time that has happened since the 2011-12 opener against Nicholls State.

Naz Reid led the way with 17 points, Emmitt Williams had a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds), Marlon Taylor came off the bench to score 15, Darius Days and Skylar Mays had 11 each and Ja'Vonte Smart scored 10.

Freshmen scored 50 of LSU's 93 points, but Wade doesn't expect to be able to substitute as liberally against the defending Southern Conference champion.

"This game is going to be a full game," Wade said. "This is going to be a big test for us, a big step for us moving forward. We're going to have to execute down the stretch, make some scores and get some scores and do what we need to do."

The Spartans won 27 games last season and battled No. 4 seed Gonzaga to the wire before falling, 68-64, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"This is a very, very good team, very, very experienced team," Wade said. "They gave Gonzaga all they could handle. They're not going to beat themselves and we're going to have to play extremely well and stay focused and sustain our discipline. They're not going to get rattled."

They didn't get rattled even though they trailed North Carolina A&T, 39-38, at halftime in their opener Tuesday. They made 17-of-33 shots in the second half and used a pressure defense to force five turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second half, triggering a 14-4 spurt on their way to a 74-66 win.

Francis Alonso led the Spartans with 23 points, Isaiah Miller scored 16 and Kaleb Hunter 11.

"The full-court press helped us find our rhythm," Alonso told Greensboro.com. "We did a good job setting it in the first half, but we were much more active in it and talked louder in the second half. We turned it around."

The Tigers might be better equipped to handle the pressure, having committed just nine turnovers, three in the second half, against Southeastern.

"We want to be a team that prides itself on effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor," UNCG coach Wes Miller told Greensboro.com. "I don't think we're sound yet or disciplined yet. We have a long way to go to be a good team, but we finally played with great effort in the second half. We showed great togetherness and will to win."

Wade said he's concerned by the fact that the Tigers allowed Southeastern to get 12 offensive rebounds and the Spartans had 19 offensive rebounds in their opener.

"Rebounding is going to be a huge challenge for us," he said. "(Southeastern) did a great job crashing the glass, but this is going to be a different animal. You've got 6-9, 6-10 kids that can do it as opposed to 6-5 and 6-6 guys. We're going to have to hit bodies. We'll have to be more physical."

What to Read Next