The first round of the Maui Invitational went according to plan Monday night, with the #13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish cruising to a win over Chaminade behind Matt Farrell’s career high 27 points and Mike Brey’s hang-loose attire. A quick turn around against an SEC team will be the toughest game yet for the Irish when they meet the LSU Tigers Tuesday night. The winner will play for a chance to hoist the Wayne Duke Championship Trophy against either #6 Wichita State or Marquette.
- #BreysChase: I should have started this countdown from the get-go, but Mike Brey is now 8 wins away from becoming Notre Dame’s winningest men’s basketball coach!
- This will be just the second meeting ever between Note Dame and LSU on the hardwood.
- The first meeting, on Jan. 20, 1990, took place in the New Orleans Super Dome in front of a then-NCAA record crowd of 68,112. Shaquille O’Neal and the Tigers won 87-64.
- When combing his numbers from the 2016 Legends Classic Tournament with last night’s Maui Invitational game, Matt Farrell is averaging 21.7 points and shooting 53 percent from behind the arc during in-season tournaments.
- Notre Dame is now 4-3 all-time in the Maui Invitational.
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii
When: Tuesday, November 21, 10:30 p.m. ET
How to Watch: ESPN and WatchESPN. Also on the Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland.
Louisiana State University Tigers (3-0)
Most of us outside of Baton Rouge and Ann Arbor probably didn’t stay up for the 11 p.m. ET tip of the LSU vs. Michigan game Monday night, but those who did were in for a treat. It was a thriller that saw LSU erase a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes of the game and survive a last-second shot from Michigan to win 77-75. Even though both teams were unranked headed into the contest, it was a huge win for an LSU program that has a new head coach in Will Wade and was picked to finish last in the SEC.
While LSU is coming off a disappointing 10-21 season with a 2-16 record in conference play, there are some positive things to pay attention to. The Tigers are returning four starters from a year ago, though their leading scorer Antonio Blakeney left for the draft and they have seven new players on the roster. Their 2017-18 recruiting class ranked 16th in the nation and fourth in the SEC. The 35-year-old Wade is one of the youngest Division I coaches, but has already built a 91-45 record in four years of being a head coach.
Through its first two games, LSU led the nation with a 60.5 field goal percentage and had the second fewest turnovers. Their offense has been balanced with five players averaging double figures, and freshman guard Tremont Waters leads the team with 17.7 points per game. Other key players include 6-foot-5 junior guard Brandon Sampson averaging 13.3 per game, and 6-foot-11 senior center Duop Reath averaging 12 per game.
Defense was the problem last season, allowing 83 points per game to opponents. But the general consensus is that appears to be what Wade has helped this team improve on the most so far. Check out this in-depth piece on the Tigers from SBNation’s SEC blog Team Speed Kills if you want to learn much more.
Tiger to Watch:
Tremont Waters, G, Freshman
The freshman phenom was a top-50 recruit out of high school and has exceeded expectations so far. On top of leading the Tigers in scoring, he also leads the team in assists per game (6) while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 53 percent from three-point land. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 167 pounds, he plays fast and scrappy with excellent court awareness. All of that was on display against Michigan when he made two plays that landed at #1 and #2 on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Matt Farrell, G, Senior
Farrell was, without question, the tone setter for the Fighting Irish against Chaminade. He came out shooting fearlessly and attacking the rim, and that kind of energy is easy for the rest of the team to get behind. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound senior will give the younger, smaller Waters all he can handle in the point guard matchup. Farrell is now averaging 18.8 points per game with a field goal percentage of 48.1 and a three-point percentage of 42.9. Also of note, his beard game is just as strong right now.
Notre Dame 79 - LSU 68
This is definitely going to be a test for the Fighting Irish. LSU will be riding a high off their dramatic win and want to make an even bigger statement in this one. Ultimately, I think Notre Dame’s efficiency on both ends of the floor will be the difference maker. The Irish don’t seem to shoot any bad shots and they take care of the basketball as well as any team in the country. LSU has been great with turnovers as well, but it nearly doubled its season total last night. The Irish also have a much higher rebound margin than the Tigers. It’s the little things that matter, and Notre Dame is just too disciplined.