The LSU men’s basketball team has created a buzz by starting 6-0 for the first time in four seasons, its early success thanks in large part to a new up-tempo style that has the Tigers ranked among the Southeastern Conference leaders in points per game.
In the final week of November, LSU came from 16 points down to knock off Seton Hall.
But nothing the Tigers have accomplished has come without the “Maravich Maniacs” in the stands and white jerseys on their backs.
LSU hits the road for the first time when the Tigers face Boise State (6-2) at 8 p.m. Friday, the first of three straight road games in nine days.
“When you’re at home, you have the comfort of sleeping in your bed, being in your locker room and playing in front of your fans,” coach Johnny Jones said. “When you’re out there on the road, it’s totally different. Your schedule is somewhat thrown off. It takes a disciplined team to be able to go through those things, remain focused and win basketball games.”
The team flew out of New Orleans on Thursday morning and will not return home until after facing UC Irvine on Tuesday night. Then comes another road trip to face Marquette, which the Tigers upset at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center last year.
The good news for LSU is that sophomore point guard Anthony Hickey, suspended last week for violating athletic department and university policies, is on his way back.
Jones did not say whether Hickey would play Friday, but the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball traveled with the Tigers after meeting Wednesday with athletic department officials.
Andre Stringer will again start at point guard, Jones said. He scored 18 points in Tuesday night’s 80-67 victory over Chattanooga.
Senior shooting guard Charles Carmouche missed Tuesday’s second half after aggravating a knee injury but is expected to be in the lineup Friday.
“We’re hopeful we’re as successful as we were (Tuesday) night in terms of taking care of the basketball and controlling the tempo,” Jones said. “That’s extremely tough on the road.”
LSU will face Boise in men’s basketball for only the second time after scoring a 64-45 victory against the Broncos at the PMAC early last season. The return trip was to be a homecoming for former Boise State basketball player Trent Johnson, but the LSU coach from 2008-12 left for TCU in April. Jones inherited his predecessor’s schedule.
Boise State ranks third in the Mountain West Conference in scoring at 74.9 points per game and has hit 80 points in four of its eight games. Derrick Marks (18.6 ppg) and Anthony Drmic (14.3) lead three scorers averaging double figures.
The Broncos own a Nov. 28 upset of then-No. 11 Creighton and are 4-0 at home. Their last time out, they allowed Utah to shoot 67.5 percent from the field and suffered a 76-55 loss.
LSU averages 79.8 points, third in the SEC behind Ole Miss and Arkansas. It is shooting 46.3 percent from the field, fifth in the league.
“I think this is an ideal trip for us in preparing us for a tough SEC,” Jones said. “The atmosphere that they will have there will be similar to what we will face in the conference. This is a great challenge for us, and I think it is going to help us.”