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Monday, October 2, 2023

Men's Basketball

Basketball dribbles to Louisiana, lossless record on the line


Junior guard Rob Gray is averaging a team-leading mark of 18.8 points per game. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

The Cougar men’s basketball team takes their zero-loss record on the road Tuesday for a rematch of last season’s thriller against the Louisiana State University Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson and his squad left the Gulf Coast Showcase with a first-place finish last week and a 30-point victory over the Cornell University Big Red Saturday night.

Men’s basketball is 5-0 on the season for the second consecutive year, but improving to 6-0 would give the Cougars their best start to a season since the 1997-1998 team began 7-0.

The Tigers will enter the game with a 4-2 record. The two losses came against formidable opponents,  Virginia Commonwealth University and Wichita State University, in the highly touted Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

LSU has struggled to find offensive consistency in the early part of the season as they rank 224th in the nation in points per game at 72.3 and are tied for 270th in assists with 11.8 per game.

Last December, the Tigers tied the game in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Cougars fended off a stellar 13-point, 14-rebound effort from eventual top NBA draft pick Ben Simmons en route to a 105-98 victory over the Tigers.

Then-sophomore guard Rob Gray earned a career-high 31 points in the resume-building victory from a year ago. Forward Damyean Dotson added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

This season, the Cougars have looked sharp on both sides of the ball although they have lacked quality opponents so far.

Men’s basketball is ranked 33rd in the country with 85.2 points per game and 23rd in assists with 18.2 per game. The experienced group of players have been most impressive on defense this season where they are allowing opponents just 55 points per game, which is good for the 10th best mark in the nation.

The Cougars will need to have one of their best defensive efforts in order to stop LSU 6-foot-10 junior forward Duop Reath.

Reath is an offensive force with an average of 15 points per game on .561 field goal percentage. The junior finds his niche on the defensive end with a team-leading 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.

The Cougars lead the all-time series against the Tigers 10-7.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

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