Christmas is right around the corner but before we get there, the Deacs take on the LSU Tigers in the Joel on Thursday night. The Tigers come into the match-up with an 8-2 record and having not yet played a true road game. While LSU may have lost a star player from last year’s squad (who certain worldwide leaders in sports LOVED to talk about), they are fully capable of coming into Winston-Salem and stealing a win. In order to give the Deacon faithful the gift of a W, Wake Forest will need to slow down these players:
Antonio Blakeney | Soph. Guard | #2
Blakeney is an all around player who leads the Tigers this season in scoring. He is averaging 15.9 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 2 assists per game. He has scored 20+ points 4 times already this season and has hit double digits in 8 of LSU’s 10 games. Blakeney’s strength is his midrange jump shot. From what I have seen of him this year, he is at his best when he comes off a screen and can get to free throw line for a pull-up jumper. He gets plenty of lift on his jump shot, which allows him to stop on a dime and and gather himself in midair before releasing the ball. He is shooting 50% from inside the arc this season.
His ability to penetrate off the pick and consistently hit midrange jumpers can often cause the opposing team’s rim protector to step out and try to contest his shot. When that happens, Blakeney has no trouble finding the open guy for an easy finish.
While he does lead LSU in 3-pointers made this season, he has made just 17 and is shooting 37% from deep. He is streaky from the 3-point line, having 3 games where he missed every 3 he took (combined 0-13) and 4 games where he hit 60% or more of his attempts (combined 13-18). That means that if he gets open looks early and starts feeling it, he can be a threat from beyond the arc.
The Deacs will definitely need to have their pick and roll defense in sync against Blakeney to stop him from getting good looks at midrange jumpers.
Duop Reath | Jr. Forward | #1
Reath is a junior college transfer playing his first year with the Tigers this season. At 6-10, 235 he is a very solid player physically. He is averaging 15.3 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, and 2 blocks per game in LSU’s first 10 games. Reath is a very skilled big; he has great footwork and a soft touch for a guy of his size, which makes him capable of scoring in multiple ways. To start with, he can put his back to the basket in the post and use his size to get easy baskets at the rim.
Next, he is capable of facing up, putting the ball on the floor, and hitting a midrange jump shot or a fade away shot in the paint.
Finally, Reath has the 2nd highest 3-point percentage on the team at 50%. While he is just 5-10 from down town this season, if he is left open, he has no reservations about letting it go from deep.
What intrigues me the most about Reath is his ability on the defensive side of the ball.
At 2 blocks per game he is definitely a solid rim protector, and I’d bet he’ll spend several minutes in Thursday’s game defending John Collins. If that is the case, we will get to see an alluring match-up between 2 very skilled 6-10 post players.