November is a crazy month for most college basketball programs. North Florida (1-2) will play its fourth game in the last eight days, while the LSU Tigers (2-0) is playing its third straight home game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Of course, the Tigers don’t have Ben Simmons, but also do not return Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman and Josh Gray. The Ospreys can match that and raise them Beau Beech, Trent Mackey and Demarcus Daniels. It will be an electric atmosphere on the LSU campus this weekend. This basketball game Friday, Tiger football with a top-25 matchup with the Florida Gators and Lady Tigers basketball hosting top-3 squad UConn makes Baton Rouge the sports destination the next two days.
The Ospreys and Tigers tip at 8 p.m. eastern. Coverage will be on SEC Network+ and 1010XL.
Back-to-back years of playing in Baton Rouge. Fortunately, this time there is no Ben Simmons. LSU won last year’s game in a high-scoring affair 119-108 on Dec. 2, 2015. North Florida is 0-16 all-time against the SEC.
Freshmen Garrett Sams and Wajid Aminu are going to have to fill up the box score more often against top-tier opponents. Sams is the only Osprey with double-figure scoring in the first three games. The two newcomers combine for 19 points and over 10 rebounds.
Antonio Blakeney got overlooked so much last season with Ben Simmons in Baton Rouge. It’s becoming almost a guarantee he gets 20 points (like LSU’s version of Dallas Moore). The Tigers are rim runners that worked on their defense in the off-season.
For the fourth straight game, the Ospreys will have Dallas Moore (#14), Aaron Bodager (12), Nick Malonga (23), Chris Davenport (35) and Romelo Banks (33).
The Tigers will roll out a three-guard lineup with Skylar Mays (#4), Antonio Blakeney (2), Brandon Sampson (0), Duop Reath (1) and Aaron Epps (21).
Okay, so there is no Ben Simmons. That’s nice for the Ospreys, but the Tigers could be better without him. Sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney – an All-SEC Freshman last year – was named to the preseason SEC Second Team. He’s putting up 18 points per game.
LSU has size – Reath, Robinson and Epps – and good ball-handlers with Skylar Mays and Jalyn Patterson. The Ospreys can keep this close early in the second half. However, LSU could go on Miami-esque runs of 11-0 or something similar.
Chris Davenport and Aaron Bodager are coming off their worst career games. The pair went a combined 0-for-12 with six rebounds in 51 minutes played. If they struggle, it could be a loooong night.
Miami had Kamari Murphy and Dewan Huell – incredible size – giving the Ospreys fits. One or two of the four players taller than 6-foot-9 could do North Florida in. Pick your poison of Duop Reath (6-10), Aaron Epps (6-10), Craig Victor and Elbert Robinson (7-1).
How UNF Can Win:
Have to play better in the paint. The Hurricanes scored 52 there two nights ago. The Ospreys cannot afford to fall behind 48-20 or something similar by halftime. Four or five possessions can drop a mid-major team against a talented ACC/SEC squad.