The LSU basketball team is giving thanks that it can finally start the season on Thanksgiving night.
The Tigers saw two scheduled openers canceled because of COVID-19 before they were able to join the field in the Billiken Classic on the Saint Louis University campus. LSU will play Thursday nightagainst SIU Edwardsville, which lost to the host school 89-52 on Wednesday.
"We're excited to get going," Tigers coach Will Wade said, "excited to have some games. Our guys have done a great job with our preparation. We've been going at it since October 14th in practice. It's nice to kind of see a light at the end of the tunnel."
LSU, 21-10 overall and 12-6 in the Southeastern Conference last season, has high expectations for this season. The Tigers received the top vote total among the teams that didn't crack the Top 25 in the preseason AP poll.
Three players, including preseason All-SEC first-team forward Trendon Watford and guard Javonte Smart, declared for the NBA Draft after last season before returning to school. The other was forward Darius Days.
The Tigers, who added three highly ranked recruits, were picked third in the SEC preseason poll.
"I like our versatility," Wade said. "I like the way we shoot the ball, we share the ball on offense, our turnovers are down in practice and our defense is improving."
LSU was first due to open Nov. 10 before the entire college basketball season was pushed back. Then the Tigers were slated to play in a multi-team event in Lincoln, Neb., before that trip was scrapped.
The Cougars' scheduled opening tournament in Youngstown, Ohio, was canceled last week before they wound up in St. Louis.
SIU Edwardsville finished 8-23 last year, 5-13 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The leading returning scorer is Cam Williams, who averaged 9.6 points last season.
The season got off to a rocky start for SIU Edwardsville on Wednesday with an 89-52 loss at Saint Louis, but coach Brian Barone likes his team's potential.
"We're very athletic and long," Barone said before the opener. "We have guys who can score in a variety of ways. We have guys who can make shots. We have guys who can attack the rim and guys who can be dynamic in defensive schemes. We have a group of guys who really enjoy playing. They like getting out on the court. ...
"At the end of the day, we have to find a way to come together and move forward collectively."
Sidney Wilson scored 14 points Wednesday, the only double-figure scorer for the Cougars, who committed 25 turnovers and made just 2 of 11 3-point attempts.
--Field Level Media