IRVING, Texas — Though West Virginia didn’t appear to receive a marquee matchup for next season’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge, fans shouldn’t disregard LSU, which could be an NCAA tournament contender.

USA Today Sports

LSU’s Jordan Mickey was the SEC’s top shot-blocker as a freshman and a 12.7-points-per-game scorer.

The Mountaineers host LSU on Thursday, Dec. 4 as part of the four-night interleague faceoff. The Tigers finished 20-14 last season, losing to SMU in the second round of the NIT, and return five of their top eight players.

Despite losing All-SEC forward Johnny O’Bryant III to the NBA draft, along with his 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds, the Tigers return freshman All-American forward Jordan Mickey, who was the nation’s No. 9 shot blocker along with 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Another standout, the 6-9 Jarell Martin, is a stretch four who averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 boards as a freshman. He was a McDonald’s All-American two seasons ago and the nation’s No. 13-rated prospect by Rivals.

Coach Johnny Jones brought in the nation’s No. 23-ranked recruiting class, headlined by one of the nation’s top centers—7-foot, 300-pounder Elbert Robinson, who had offers from Kansas, Florida, Texas, Ohio State, Georgetown and Baylor. Another vaunted newcomer is four-star junior college point guard Josh Gray, who was courted by Memphis, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida State.

Plus the Tigers have an interesting Grammy connection, with Bruce Hornsby’s son Keith becoming eligible after transferring from UNC Asheville, where he was a 3-point threat who averaged 15 points a game.

So even though LSU—which hasn’t been to the NCAAs since 2009—certainly doesn’t warrant the buzz of facing programs like Kentucky or Florida, next season’s team should represent a quality opponent with plenty of RPI starch.

2014 SEC / BIG 12 CHALLENGE
Wednesday, Dec. 3
Auburn at Texas Tech
Thursday, Dec. 4
Arkansas at Iowa State
Baylor at Vanderbilt
LSU at West Virginia
TCU at Mississippi
Friday, Dec. 5
Florida at Kansas
Missouri at Oklahoma
Texas at Kentucky
Saturday, Dec. 6
Kansas State at Tennessee
Oklahoma State at South Carolina
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Comments

  • Aaron

    Rumor mills have Remi Dibo leaving with Harris under the "I shouldn't have to play defense because I can shoot" rule. I think that the NCAA grants immediate eligibility so a shooter doesn't lose their touch.

  • squad

    interesting when the bottom line ran on espn yesterday, they listed 5 games..but not us..

    I guess that shows where we are presently. work to do.

    why didn't we get frank martin??

    • Dave

      BTW, here's the link before you ask. I know, I know, you don't like facts.

      • squad

        I said the "bottom line".. you know, the line that goes across espn 2 and espn during the games?? that one. not the comments..jeez

        • squad

          most importantly, we're gonna whip their asses

    • Dave

      What are you talking about? The ESPN comments I saw did mention the WVU vs LSU game.They mentioned Eron Harris leaving and of course they mentioned Juwan Staten. They also mentioned that WVU and LSU were two teams with hopes to make it back to the NCAA tourney. Frank Martin? Is that supposed to be a joke?

      • squad

        yes frank versus hugs, a joke.. same as frank going back to k state..a joke... ha ha ha

  • WVU FAN

    Nice diamond in the rough type of game, should be a good game for WVU, It appears WVU will be facing some pretty good big men this season and I don't believe we have a big man on our team....

    I believe we play NC State this year, they have a big athletic kid in the middle as well... How will WVU handle these big men when we don't have anyone with the strength / muscle down low to compete kids with this size... It would be nice to have the Turk back .

    Lets GOOOOOOOO!!!Mountaineeeeeeers!!!

  • William101

    We had better not overlook LSU. They beat us in Morgantown the last time we played.

    • rick

      They ruined Jerry's day. That ought to be revenge enough for us.

  • Greg

    If they have a big man underneath or a goofy looking mop-haired white guy that can shoot the 3-ball they'll both have a career night I'm sure. We'll just have to hope they can shut down the other 3 guys. Think Bruce Hornsby's kid's got the range? :)

  • richard

    um, it's still LSU! maybe not what they once were but still..........LSU!

  • Joe

    LSU must be thinking the same thing.

    We are not a program now qualified to deem the marquee-worthiness of opponents.

  • GoEers

    I'm actually very happy to play LSU. Certainly no reason to discount them. It will be a fun game to go to and will probably be nationally televised.