Depending on whom you ask, there are reasons aplenty why the basketball teams from LSU and UL-Lafayette — two schools separated by just 58 miles of roadway — don’t meet more often.
To be sure, most of them probably don’t make any sense, with each side blaming the other for the inability to come together on the basketball court — which has happened just five times since 1945.
Whatever the reason or reasons, the National Invitation Tournament selection committee apparently didn’t mind setting up a rare Tigers-Ragin’ Cajuns matchup in a first-round game in the 32-team tournament.
No. 3 seed LSU (17-14) and No. 6 seed UL-Lafayette (27-6) will tangle for the first time since Dec. 1, 2009, at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game is available online only at ESPN3.com.
At stake is a second-round game against the survivor of Wednesday’s late first-round contest between No. 2 seed Utah and No. 7 seed UC Davis.
UL-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin was outspoken Sunday night when he learned his team would not host a game against LSU despite having a higher RPI and 10 more wins — and a better “gym” — than Will Wade’s Tigers.
That tossed even more spice into a basketball feud that’s been simmering for years.
The UL-Lafayette men’s basketball team won’t need a lot of motivation to get ready for its first-round game in the National Invitation Tournament.
After all, basketball games between LSU and UL-Lafayette have been few and far between since they met 41 times — often twice a year — between 1914 to 1945.
They even played three times in 1917, according to the LSU media guide, and the Tigers built a 31-10 all-time edge over the Ragin’ Cajuns in a series that included eight games in Lafayette.
But there was nothing for 56 years until former LSU coach John Brady, who coached two decades earlier in the southwestern part of the state at Crowley High, scheduled a game with UL-Lafayette and coach Jessie Evans.
“When I was at LSU, they hadn’t played since 1945,” Brady, who’s now the radio analyst for LSU games, said Tuesday. “There was some local interest in playing, and I think it created interest.”
So, the two schools finally came together in the PMAC on Dec. 4, 2001, with LSU prevailing 83-65 when Ronald Dupree poured in a game-high 29 points and Collis Temple III added 20.
It was the first of five consecutive victories in the series for the Tigers, who won by an average of 12.2 points.
They met four more times in a six-year stretch from 2004-09, even though Brady, the third-winningest coach in LSU history, wasn’t around for the last two after being fired in February 2008.
Will Wade had two main goals in mind for his first LSU basketball team when the regular season began back in early November.
While he obviously didn’t mind playing UL-Lafayette, Brady said there was one stipulation.
“I would never go there and play,” he said. “If they wanted to play LSU and have that opportunity to come to Baton Rouge, that’s what they did.”
In 2004, Brady even hosted a four-team Louisiana tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend — with UL-Lafayette included.
“It was a little harder to schedule back then, but we played Tulane a few times after we didn’t play them for a long time,” Brady said. “Tulane even beat me once when my team had some injury issues, but that’s the risk you run.
“When you play those teams, you need to beat them. It may sound good and all when you play them, and it might create some interest, but don’t lose to them. That’s kind of the rule of thumb.”
Brady said in his first few seasons after taking over when Dale Brown retired, he heard all the “noise” about why LSU wasn’t scheduling UL-Lafayette.
There will be several noticeable differences in the playing rules for the National Invitation Tournament that begins Tuesday with LSU, UL-Lafa…
“I heard all that stuff, that we were afraid to play them and that we wouldn’t play them,” he recalled. “I finally said, ‘OK, let’s just play them, get them here in Baton Rouge, and beat ’em and stop all that chatter.’
“That’s the only way to squash that kind of talk: Play ’em and beat ’em.”
Former Ragin’ Cajuns coach Bobby Paschal, who racked up four 20-win seasons from 1979-86 and led his team to three NIT appearances and two NCAA tournament berths, said there was little talk about playing LSU when he was in charge.
Paschal said that came more from the outside, not from him and Brown, LSU’s coach from 1972-97.
“I never really tried to schedule them. … We mentioned it some, but I never really had a conversation about trying to schedule,” Paschal said. “It just never really came up, so we didn’t feel like we needed it.
“If they didn’t want to play and that was their decision, we didn’t need to play them to validate our program. If we played them, fine; if we didn’t, fine also.”
Dan McDonald contributed to this report.
WHAT: UL-Lafayette at LSU
WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: TBA
• LSU is 28-32 in 28 postseason appearances, going 24-24 in the NCAA tournament and 4-8 in the NIT.
• The Tigers were 13-4 in the PMAC this season, winning their final six Southeastern Conference games.
• LSU is winless in three NIT home games, losing in the first round in 1982 and ’83 and the second in 2002.
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Marcus Stroman 6-2 Jr. 6.7 6.4*
G Frank Bartley 6-3 Sr. 17.7 3.6
G Malik Marquetti 6-6 Jr. 8.4 3.6
F JaKeenan Gant 6-8 Jr. 13.8 5.8
F Bryce Washington 6-6 Sr. 10.5 10.6
G Johnathan Stove 6-4 Sr. 9.8 2.9
G Cedric Russell 6-2 Fr. 5.6 1.1
F Justin Miller 6-7 So. 7.3 3.7
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 16.0 5.9*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 11.2 4.1
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.5 2.0
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.5 5.6
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 12.2 5.2
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.8 3.0
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 6.9 1.5
G Brandon Rachal 6-5 Fr. 4.4 3.3