LSU MBB Tops Auburn

LSU men's basketball head coach Will Wade calls out a play Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 during LSU's 104-80 win against Auburn at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on N Stadium Drive in Baton Rouge, La. 

The excitement surrounding the upcoming season for LSU basketball took a bit of a hit when just under a month ago, the news broke that transfer guard Adam Miller would miss the entire season with a torn ACL.

Miller, a sophomore who started his career at Illinois, was expected to start and play a key role for the Tigers this season, prior to his injury. Miller was coming off an impressive freshman season at Illinois where he averaged 8.3 points per game and led all Big Ten freshmen in three pointers made. His production will certainly be missed, but Head Coach Will Wade is confident that his team will adjust. 

“I think he’s going to come back stronger," he said, "and with the other guys we’ve got other good players. That’s why you recruit well.”

Wade has certainly done that since he has been at LSU, and this year’s roster is yet another great example of that. LSU has a loaded backcourt even with Miller out, with players who are capable of stepping up in his absence. Xavier Pinson, Eric Gaines, Brandon Murray and Justice Williams are all talented guards. Pinson will start at point guard for the Tigers this season, but the big question is who will start next to him at shooting guard in Miller’s absence. 

Gaines is a second-year player at LSU who showed flashes last season, despite not playing significant minutes. Gaines is a wiry, athletic 6-foot 3-inch guard who can play as both a point guard and shooting guard. His ability as a playmaker was on display in LSU’s exhibition against Nicholls State, where he finished the game with nine assists to go along with 15 points. He’s still developing as a scorer, but his athleticism allows him to make plays going to the basket. His jump shot, yet still developing, is solid and looks improved from last season. Wade was impressed with Gaines’ performance against Nicholls State and believes he can play a major role for the Tigers this season.

“He [Gaines] did a really nice job and had great poise running our team,” Wade said. “We’ve got to cut down on some of the turnovers, and he needs to be more deliberate with this dribbling, but I think he did a nice job.”

Another player that is likely to step up in the shooting guard role is freshman Brandon Murray. Murray came to LSU from the renowned IMG Academy in Florida and was ranked the No. 85 overall prospect in the class of 2021. Murray stands at 6-feet, 5-inches and weighs in at 210 pounds, and his size allows him to be versatile.

On defense, it allows him to guard multiple positions, and on offense it gives him the ability to score at multiple levels. Against Nicholls State, Murray had 10 points and gave the Tigers a boost on both ends of the floor. Wade was complementary of Murray’s performance against Nicholls State and was impressed with his work rate.

“I think Murray is going to be a really good player for us," Wade said. "He plays extremely hard.”

Justice Williams is another possible contributor at that position, but right now he is still injured and planning on redshirting. Williams is a freshman who reclassified to the class of 2021 and is expected to make a big impact once he is healthy. 

Looking at the overall strength of the roster, this team has the depth and talent to make up for a key player like Miller going down. There are other talented pliers in the backcourt, as well as talented wings and players in the frontcourt who will make a major impact.

Wade has done a great job of putting this roster together which has put LSU in a position where one injury doesn’t dismantle the team. It will be interesting to see how Gaines and Murray step up in their new roles, and how the team adjusts to Miller being out.

 

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