LSU first-year head coach Matt McMahon is taking advantage of his team’s last few pre-SEC games to figure out precise roles for his players.
The Tigers (9-1) will continue tuning up for conference play when they meet Winthrop on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.
Derek Fountain got his first start against Wake Forest last Saturday and had 11 points and five rebounds in a two-point win. That earned Fountain a second start and he had 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds Tuesday night in a 67-57 victory over North Carolina Central.
Cam Hayes got his first start in that game and responded with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“I can’t say enough good things about (Fountain and Hayes),” McMahon said. “Them going into the starting lineup, it’s not a demotion of anybody.
“It’s two guys who have been very consistent in practice — their effort, their energy, their ability to impact winning.”
LSU led NC Central by just four points with 11:06 to play before extending the margin.
“We’re still continuing to search for consistency, like every team in America,” McMahon said.
That includes teams like Winthrop (5-6).
Forward Kelton Talford leads the Eagles, averaging 17.9 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. He’s making 76.1 percent of his shots.
Talford was named Big South Conference Player of the Week after averaging 23.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games last week when he shot 77 percent from the floor, missing just five of his 22 shots.
In addition to Talford’s consistency, the Eagles have four other players averaging between 8.5 and 14.4 points.
Saturday’s game will be Winthrop’s second against an SEC team. They lost to nationally ranked Auburn 89-65 last month.
“We want to constantly measure ourselves against the best teams in the country. That’s where we feel like we’ve gotten to,” head coach Mark Prosser said. “That’s how you prepare for the games as you get into March.”
–Field Level Media