BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team, coming off two road victories at Houston and Rutgers, begins a three-game homestand Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when 8-1 Boise State comes to town.
The 5-3 Tigers will play their first game since last Saturday at Rutgers as they have spent the week working on final exams which conclude earlier in the day on Saturday. The rest of the homestand will have LSU hosting UC-Irvine on Thursday (Dec.15) and nationally-ranked Marquette (Dec. 19).
The LSU-Boise State game will be regionally televised on Cox Sports Television with the radio broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live (scoreboard video available outside the CST market area).
Tickets for the game are available online at www.LSUtix.net beginning at $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12). The ticket windows at the Maravich Center (located on the upper ramp area) will open for will call pickup and sales beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The game is part of a Mike's Kids Club Holiday Party for members who will take part in a basketball clinic with the women's basketball team prior to the game. All other members not attending the clinic have the opportunity to attend the game for free by showing their membership card at ticket windows on the day of the game. Parents will receive a special $5 ticket rate.
For information on joining Mike's Kids Club, visit www.LSUsports.net/mikeskidsclub.
Also as part of the festivities, the Tiger Girls are holding their annual pre-game dance clinic and those participating in the clinic will have the chance to dance with the Tiger Girls at halftime of the game.
LSU's two road wins showcased the Tiger defense as LSU rallied from eight down at halftime to win at Houston on two Storm Warren free throws with 1.2 seconds to play for a 59-58 win. Against Rutgers, the Tigers were down five at the half and five, 48-43, with 7:02 to play. But LSU outscored the Big East team, 12-2, the rest of the way getting two big buckets and an assist from freshman guard Anthony Hickey and a defensive charge and subsequent dunk from freshman Johnny O'Bryant III in the final 1:20 of the game that led LSU to a 55-50 win.
LSU is expected to start the same lineup that started both of the road games with Hickey (11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.1 apg) and sophomores Andre Stringer (12.1 ppg, 2.2 apg) and Ralston Turner (10.5 ppg) at the guards, O'Bryant III at forward (9.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and junior center Justin Hamilton (10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
LSU continues to help itself on the offensive boards, leading the Southeastern Conference in offensive rebounds at 15.9 a game. The Houston game especially turned on the offensive boards as LSU garnered a 14-1 advantage in the second half. LSU is averaging 15.2 second chance points a game this season, compared to 10.9 for the opponents
Boise State, LSU Coach Trent Johnson's alma mater, comes in undefeated in eight home games at the Taco Bell Arena (where LSU played in its two NCAA Tournament appearances in 1992 and 2005). The team's lone loss came at Long Beach State, 72-762 back on Nov. 22.
This will be the Broncos fourth game in eight days, having beaten Indiana State (74-65), Idaho State (79-55) and most recently, Portland (92-70) on Wednesday.
The lineup for second-year coach Leon Rice (30-14) shows senior Wesley Perryman (7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg), sophomore Jeff Elorriaga (6.1 ppg, 1.9 apg) and freshman Anthony Drmic (15.6 ppg, 42.2% 3PT) at the guards with sophomores Thomas Bropleh (8.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Ryan Watkins (8.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) at forwards.
This is the first of a home-and-home series with Bois State as LSU is expected to return the game next season. It is the first time in LSU basketball history that the head coach of LSU will face his alma mater in a counting contest. Former Coach John Brady played his alma mater, Belhaven, in an exhibition game prior the 2007-08 season.
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Coach Johnson met with the media on Thursday for his pre-game media session. Here are some of the comments from that session:
December 8, 2011
LSU HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
Opening statement ...
"Boise State is a good basketball team. They are 8-1, but probably the most impressive thing from our standpoint is their passing game. They can pass, and they really shoot well. When you look at their numbers in terms of their shooting, it's obvious that they're a good basketball team. They're playing extremely well right now. It's probably a good time for us, because defensively, we've found a way to get stops and compete at a high level. Boise is a basketball team that we're going to have to defend and compete with at a high level for 40 minutes. Hopefully we'll start to shoot the ball better. We're getting good shots. We're taking good shots, but the ball hasn't been going down for us."
On playing against his Alma Mater, Boise State ...
"The bottom line for me is getting this group ready and making sure they have a good understanding of the team we're playing. We're viewing extensive video in the next couple of days of how skilled and talented and how good of a basketball team this is. The reason this game was scheduled is because Justin Hamilton's from (Alpine) Utah. We originally wanted to get a home-and-home with Utah, Utah State or BYU, but that was not doable. So, I thought Boise was the next school in the proximity to Salt Lake City, because Justin is from right outside there. It makes sense to get him in front of his family and friends his senior year. Not to mention the fact that they're a good basketball team. Coach Rice is going to continue to do an exceptional job, and they're going to be a good basketball team."
On LSU's defense ...
Hopefully they understand the sense of urgency in which we have to play on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, our shots aren't going down, but you can win games and stay in games against good teams if you defend with a sense of urgency. You have to stay disciplined. We talked about this coming out of the Charleston Classic. We were in a one-day prep versus a Northwestern team, which runs a Princeton version. We thought we had a chance to be a good defensive team, and then we did a pretty good job versus Western Kentucky and then obviously Georgia Tech. To come home and play like we did against South Alabama was very disappointing and very disturbing to all of us. To go back out on the road and get Rutgers first home loss and beat Houston - a team that was snake-bitten, so to speak, and lost two close games. So we had to play extremely hard. We had to win that game on the defensive end by playing solid, sound defense.
On preparing for the game against Boise State ...
"Obviously, first and foremost, we're going to have to limit transition opportunities. They have quality players. Offensively, we need to make them guard us by taking good shots. We're executing our stuff, setting good screens and getting the shot we want. We have to chase them off the three and get something going. It's going to have to be a steady defense from start to finish in terms of running them off the three-point arc. We can't let them beat us at the point of attack and get all the way to the rim on the half court. We're going to have to play a really good game in all aspects. This is probably as good a team as we've played up to this point. I really feel that."
On the freshmen team members ...
"They're about where I thought they would be in this point in time. When I say that, all three of them are competing at a very high level. They're not afraid, and they're not tentative to make plays. They continue to be receptive to coaching. Are we as consistent as we'd like? No, but we're going to get there. They're on par. Anthony (Hickey) was on the all-tournament team in Charleston. Johnny O' Bryant (III) stepped up and probably had two of the biggest plays from his and our standpoint (against Rutgers). Obviously Johnny understood his role, and his role is probably going to increase more as the season progresses."
On LSU offense ...
"I think we have the capability to be a solid team. I don't think there's going to be any one guy or any two guys that will go out and give you 20 points each night. Now, Ralston (Turner) and Andre (Stringer) are shooting the ball better as we progress. I like where we're at offensively. When I say that, we're getting good contribution from a lot of guys. A lot of guys are getting good shots in their spots and within their confines of what they do best. As long as we can continue to execute and do those things, we're going to be fine on the offensive end. We need to do a better job of setting screens. We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and making the proper passes. We have a lot of unforced turnovers, but on the other side we're forcing a lot of turnovers when we guard at eye level."
On Chris Bass achieving an academic award ...
"When you're around kids like Chris (Bass), you have an idea of how hard some guys work. For some guys, school is easy. For other guys, school is hard. When I found out about the award, I addressed the whole team. That's what this is about. Make no mistake about it. What it shows and what it says is that a guy is improving from his freshman year to his senior year. Also, so many people, so many kids, so many athletes want to hide behind that want for help and are embarrassed by it. The people that need to be commended are the academic people. That's bigger than winning games. We all know that sooner or later, you're not going to be able to play."