NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The LSU men's basketball hype train, generated primarily by freshman phenomenon Ben Simmons, began to grind to a halt far too early this season when the Tigers lost four of five games in late November and early December.
However, in their last nine games, they're 7-2. The fact that their success coincides with the addition of New Orleans-native Craig Victor to the lineup is no coincidence. He's averaging more than 13 points and seven rebounds per game and provides a physicality the team had previously been missing.
"Talk about the dirty work and playing hard and a guy that brings his lunch pail to work every day," says Head Coach Johnny Jones. "That's him, that's what he provides us and gives us."
Victor's latest triumph includes a double-double, 16 points and 12 rebounds, against Arkansas on Saturday night and the game-winning basket off an Antonio Blakeney air ball.
"He's a huge inside presence," says Simmons. "He's able to finish a lot of the offensive rebounds. Whenever we were throwing it in there, he was hitting shots. He played a great game."
The duo of Victor and Simmons average 20 rebounds per game for LSU, which is more than half the team average. When they're on the floor at the same time, it's extremely tough on opposing defenses to guard both in the paint.
The Tigers need both to be at the top of their game Tuesday night when they travel to 10th ranked Texas A&M (15-2, 5-0).