Charles Carmouche, a fifth-year senior, and Malik Morgan, a freshman, are competing for a starting position in the LSU lineup.
Both players staked their claim to a starting spot in the Tigers' 82-66 exhibition game victory against Arkansas-Monticello in the PMAC on Monday night.
Carmouche, a transfer from Memphis, accounted for a team-high 19 points and five assists. Morgan, the first-year player from River Ridge (La.) Curtis, scored 18 points in just 19 minutes off the bench.
Carmouche was instrumental in helping the Tigers pull away from Arkansas-Monticello in the last ten minutes of the game. A couple of baskets by Carmouche, who didn't play in the scrimmage at Rice due to an undisclosed injury, gave LSU an eight-point lead at 58-50.
Then, Carmouche made a pair of foul shots and knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Tigers comfortably ahead at 74-58 with 3:15 remaining in the game. Carmouche, who also had four steals, made seven of eight free throw attempts.
"We got used to the flow of the game," Carmouche said. "We started off slow in the first half and then we got the bugs out. In the second half, we played our basketball. We started defending, getting steals and running the break. That was the big thing about the second half."
It was Morgan who drew the praise of coach Johnny Jones. Morgan provided the Tigers with an offensive boost in the first half when he scored 11 of his 18 points. Morgan connected on three treys in a span of 6½ minutes.
"Malik did an excellent job," Jones said. "He made a few shots. Then, he also did a pretty good job on the defensive end of the court. We came out in the first half just trying to get a feel for the game instead of trying to execute. We were all anxious about the game.
"We did an excellent job settling down in the second half. We did a much better job rebounding and getting turnovers. We had some easy scoring opportunities in the second half."
Andre Stringer started at one of the wing positions, but he did very little. Stringer scored nine points, all coming from 3-pointers. Two of his 3-pointers came during the final three minutes.
The Tigers played without starting point guard Andre Hickey and freshman wing player Shane Hammink. Both players were held out by Jones for off-the-court matters.
"One of the things I'm all about is guys taking care of their business on and off the floor all of the time and not just sometimes," Jones said. "I wanted to make sure that we sent the message loud and clear that it won't be tolerated.
"The message was sent tonight and I look forward to them being back on the floor with us on Friday. It's just about them taking care of their business."
Freshman Corban Collins replaced Hickey as the starting point guard and accounted for 11 points and five assists in 33 minutes. Collins, who was guilty of four turnovers, was 4-of-9 from the field. All of Collins' 11 points came in the second half. Carmouche played a few minutes at point guard.
Johnny O'Bryant had a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds in 29 minutes. O'Bryant also finished with four assists and four steals. But, he had four turnovers. Eddie Ludwig, who started at the other post position, had eight points, three rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes.
As expected, Shavon Coleman played nearly all of his 22 minutes inside. Coleman had five points on 2-of-6 shooting. Jalen Courtney and Andrew Del Piero logged just a combined total of seven minutes.
"Early on, I was pleased defensively," Jones said. "We did an excellent job of at ball-hawking, containing the basketball and making them play over the top of us. The disappointment was we gave up too many rebounds and second chance opportunities in the first half. As the game played out, guys stepped up.
"They tried to share the basketball with each other and take good shots. In the second half, they continued to improve on that. On defense in the second half, we gave up some easy scoring opportunities and some straight line drives. We also turned the ball over too many times (21)."
LSU will open its season Friday night when Cal Santa Barbara visits the PMAC.