WASHINGTON DC (WVUE) - LSU is the outlier here in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament. Joined in Washington D.C. by the likes of Duke, Michigan State and Virginia Tech, on paper, they’re not the favorites to advance. But the game isn’t played on paper. The Tigers aren’t playing against the rich basketball history of Michigan State, just the current Spartans. And interim head coach Tony Benford has faith that when the ball’s tipped on Friday night, his players will continue to prove why they’re a championship contending team.
“Tremont (Waters) can go create his own shot or create shots for his teammates,” says interim head coach Tony Benford. “Skylar Mays can do the same. Javonte (Smart) can do the same. Naz (Reid) is able to go in the post or create off the bounce. So we’ve got several guys that can make plays. That’s great. When you have that as a coach, it makes your job a lot easier.”
Benford’s coaching, however, will have to extend beyond the court this weekend. The Tigers are sure to be reminded of everything going on off-the-court and the pending issues with suspended head coach Will Wade. Staying on task may grow tougher the further LSU advances.
“The more success you have, the more scrutiny and questions you’ll be asked,” says Benford. “But our guys, again, we’re going to stay in the moment. We only can control what we can control, and that’s getting better everyday and preparing for who our next opponent is.”
And that opponent is one that does just about everything well. Michigan State is top 10 in the country in rebounding margin, assists per game and scoring defense, not to mention more equipped with veteran experience. LSU’s faced and beaten some tough opponents this year like Kentucky and Tennessee, but the Spartans will take their best effort yet.