BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU basketball coach Will Wade made it clear that he needs to see something — anything — out of junior guard Brandon Sampson.
Sampson, who was LSU’s No. 3 scorer last year with 11.6 points per game, has struggled this season since coming back from a sprained left ankle at the Maui Invitational. He is averaging 6.6 points per game since making his return against North Florida on Dec. 22. That average is skewed by an anomaly of a 17-point performance against Georgia.
“We have no third scorer,” Wade said on Monday. “He would certainly be a good candidate to be that third scorer.”
Wade then paused for several seconds before considering what to say next.
“I thought we made some progress in the Georgia game,” Wade continued. “We’ve got to find another scorer. When he’s not scoring, we’ve got to have other value. He’s certainly a talented player. But we’ve got to find somebody who can help us at that guard spot.”
Sampson provided precious little “other value” in LSU’s 77-71 loss at Vanderbilt on Saturday. In 19 minutes on the floor, he didn’t grab a rebound. More tellingly, the Commodores were plus-20 in point differential when Sampson was on the floor.
Sampson’s time in the starting lineup likely will come to an end in a Tuesday home game against Texas A&M with Randy Onwuasor taking his spot.
“I pride myself in that there’s a code to every lock,” Wade said of Sampson. “If I knew the answer to that, I’d have him playing extremely, extremely consistently. We’re trying.
“I think we’ve got Randy playing at a high level. Daryl [Edwards] guarding at a high level. Skylar [Mays] is doing well. The bigs are doing well. Tre [Waters] is going to get back on track.”
Sampson remains Wade’s greatest enigma.
“If I could figure that part of it out, it would help us, help him, help everybody,” Wade said. “It’s not for a lack of trying. It’s not for a lack of care. We’ve just got to figure something out.”
What’s next for LSU basketball?
Texas A&M (13-6, 2-5 SEC) at LSU (11-7, 2-4 SEC)
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 23
Time: 8 p.m. CT