LSU basketball team gears up for first exhibition with Johnny Jones

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONJohnny Jones shouts out to his North Texas players during a 2007 game against LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Jones, now the head coach at his alma mater, leads the Tigers into an exhibition Monday against Arkansas-Monticello. Show caption
Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNONJohnny Jones shouts out to his North Texas players during a 2007 game against LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Jones, now the head coach at his alma mater, leads the Tigers into an exhibition Monday against Arkansas-Monticello.

LSU gears up for first exhibition with Johnny Jones as coach

First-year LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones will make his unofficial debut Monday night when the Tigers face Arkansas-Monticello in an exhibition game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

To witness it, fans won’t have to pay a dime.

There is no admission charge for the 7 p.m. tipoff, the first public exhibition for an LSU team since the start of the 2007-08 season.

The Tigers had a private scrimmage at Rice last month.

“When you have an opportunity to go against another opponent, a lot of times you can be exploited in certain areas that you need to continue to work,” Jones said. “Then, you have an opportunity to look at some things that were positive for you as well. We’re excited about that.”

Returning starters Anthony Hickey, Andre Stringer and Johnny O’Bryant lead an LSU team that reached the NIT in Trent Johnson’s final season as coach, but lost underclassman starters Justin Hamilton (who entered the NBA draft) and Ralston Turner (who transferred to N.C. State), as well as three seniors.

Senior forward Eddie Ludwig is expected to join the three returning starters in the LSU lineup. Freshman Malik Morgan and senior Charles Carmouche, a Memphis transfer, are vying for the other starting spot.

Carmouche missed the scrimmage at Rice with an undisclosed injury. Jones said Wednesday he expects him to play against Arkansas-Monticello.

Other newcomers likely to play a key role include freshman guard Corban Collins, freshman forward Shane Hammink and junior forward Shavon Coleman, a transfer from Howard College in Texas.

“Anytime you’ve got new guys, a lot of times they’ll revert back to habits,” Jones said. “We’ve got to make sure through repetition that guys are getting used to what we’re doing, and it will become second nature for them.”

LSU has an all-time record of 52-7 in public exhibition games and has won nine straight dating to 2003. The Tigers beat EA Sports 72-68 in 2007, the last time the Tigers participated in such an event.

Arkansas-Monticello is a Division II outfit that went 21-9 last season and finished third in the Great American Conference with a 10-6 mark. The Boll Weevils played an earlier exhibition game at Louisiana Tech, losing 72-44.

The official start of the Johnny Jones era at LSU comes Friday night when UC-Santa Barbara visits the PMAC.