|LSU trying to reset before meeting Yale|
It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks for the LSU men's basketball team.
First it was reported that coach Will Wade was caught on tape by the FBI talking about an "offer" Wade made to freshman guard Javonte Smart when the Tigers were recruiting Smart, which could be a violation of NCAA rules.
Then the university suspended Wade after he refused to discuss the taped conversation with LSU officials.
The Tigers clinched the SEC regular-season championship in their first game under interim coach Tony Benford, then got upset by eighth-seeded Florida in their first game in the SEC tournament last week.
Now third-seeded and 12th-ranked LSU (26-6) is preparing to face 14th seed and Ivy League champion Yale (22-7) in a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Jacksonville, Fla.
"We're 0-0 now, just like everybody else in the country," Benford said. "I think now it is time to hit the reset button."
Benford and his assistants have experience in the NCAA Tournament, but only one Tigers player does and that's Kavell Bigby-Williams, a transfer who played in the tournament when he was with Oregon.
LSU's last appearance came in 2015, when it lost in the first round against N.C. State, 66-65.
"What you try to explain to them is that we are not going be in a routine too much, as far as our preparation goes," Benford said. "We have to really narrow our focus more as it is win or go home.
"We will go back to working on our offensive and defensive execution, rebounding and all of the fundamental things that we have to do to prepare for Yale."
The Bulldogs are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years.
"We played different styles in non-conference and then we played teams with different styles in conference play," Benford said. "It really helps you, playing in the SEC, prepare for any type of style of play that you'll come up against."
Yale, like LSU, enjoys a fast pace. The Bulldogs had their eighth game this season with at least 90 points when they defeated Harvard, 97-85, in the championship game of the Ivy League tournament, which was played on Yale's home court.
Six players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs, who shot 60.4 percent from the floor and made 28 of 30 free-throw attempts.
"That's what makes us such a dangerous team," senior forward Blake Reynolds told Yale's official website. "We have so many guys that can contribute and score."
This is the Bulldogs' fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament. Their only victory came in their last trip, when they defeated Baylor 79-75 in 2016.
"We got a taste of that tournament berth our freshman year, and we've been hungry for it throughout our careers," Reynolds told the New Haven Register. "We really wanted to get back there. To punch that tournament berth at home, in front of our friends and family, was an unbelievable feeling."
The Bulldogs are familiar with sophomore point guard Tremont Waters, LSU's leading scorer, who's from New Haven, Conn., and was recruited by Yale.
"We recruited him pretty hard," Yale coach James Jones told the Register. "He's been at my elite camp since he was in eighth grade. Love the kid. I've watched LSU play a lot the last few weekends. They're really good. (Second-leading scorer) Naz (Reid) is good around the basket."
The LSU-Yale winner will advance to a second-round game on Saturday against either No. 6 seed Maryland or No. 11 Belmont, which got past Temple 81-70 in a First Four matchup Tuesday.
--Field Level Media