BATON ROUGE - Andre Stringer poured in a game-high 18 points as the LSU men's basketball team led wire-to-wire to claim its fourth straight victory, a 61-53 decision over Georgia, Wednesday at the Maravich Center.
For Stringer, he buried 6-of-12 shots aided by a quartet of three-pointers. It was his highest scoring output since a 20-point performance versus South Alabama back on November 23. The Jackson, Miss., native has reeled off double figures in three of his last four outings.
With the victory, LSU (17-10, 7-6 SEC) has won 10 of its last 15 games with Georgia dating back to the 2000 season. The Tigers also moved into a fourth-place tie with Tennessee in the SEC standings.
Johnny O'Bryant III chipped in 14 points and connected on five of his 10 attempts. He also secured eight rebounds. Justin Hamilton garnered a game-best nine rebounds to go along with seven points, while Ralston Turner added eight points over the final five minutes of the contest.
LSU's defense held its opponent under the 60-point plateau for the 15th time this season, winning 14 of those contests. The Bulldogs (12-15, 3-10 SEC) were fueled by Gerald Robinson, Jr.'s 17 points.
The Tigers came out firing on all cylinders and canned six of their first nine shots to race out to a 15-3 advantage with 13:54 remaining in the first half. The Tigers rode O'Bryant III and Stringer to 13 of those points.
With LSU ahead 29-17 with 2:34 left, the Bulldogs reeled off the final six points of the stanza to draw back to 29-23 at halftime.
Georgia continued to chip away and pulled with a single possession on two occasions, the latest at 45-42 with 6:49 left, after a Donte' Williams traditional three-point play.
The Tigers regained control over the next 2:03 when Stringer and Turner knocked down triples coupled with a pair of Hamilton free throws to surge LSU back ahead, 53-44, at the 4:13 mark.
Georgia ran off a 7-2 mini-spurt to make it 55-51 with 34 seconds to go. However, the Tigers calmly sank their final six free throws, four from Turner, to secure the 61-53 triumph.
LSU returns to the road Saturday at Ole Miss. Tip-off is slated for 12:47 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on the SEC Network along with ESPN3.com. The LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) will have the game with Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford.
Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.
LSU v. Georgia Men's Basketball
February 22, 2012
HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
Opening statement ...
"It is a good win and I said this earlier in the week, I think Georgia, with the exception of Kentucky, has probably played the toughest schedule. They got a young group with the exception of (Dustin) Ware and (Gerald) Robinson. They did a lot of good things defensively against us in terms of putting a lot of pressure on our post, making them passers, getting us out of rhythm with their zone and their man. I thought we did a really, really good job of keeping our poise because when the thing got to within three, got to within four, I thought we showed our fragileness a little bit. The guys started losing a little confidence, but then we found our way back. So that is a good win."
On the team's free throw shooting ...
"I do not know as much as we struggled; and I say that based off of what Chris Bass and Malcolm White shoot from the free throw line. Neither one of them are high volume percentage shooters. I thought the guys that were at the line that are high percentage free throw shooters made them. Chris (Bass) did a good job of hitting the front end of the one-and-one when it got close. Malcolm (White) did a good job of hitting the one that he hit, but for the most part when Andre (Stringer) started having cramps or what he had, we had to play Chris (Bass) and that is probably a bad move on my part. I should have put John Isaac in because he is a pretty good free throw shooter. We wanted to put Chris (Bass) in because we thought he can do a good job defending (Gerald) Robinson so you pick your poison when one of your key guys, who is a good free throw shooter, gets hurt and you have to take him out. In terms of our percentages, Malcolm (White) and Chris (Bass) they work at it, but they are both about 60 percent from the free throw line. Ralston (Turner), we got him to the line and he shoots them well, Justin (Hamilton) at the line shoots them well. That is who you want at the line"
On the team's growth ...
"In terms of growth, I like to use the word improvement ... I want to say after we left Charleston we continued to get better. For me, I see them every day, sometimes I am really critical on them. But when Joe Dean Jr., who knows a little bit about basketball or Dino Gaudio from ESPN, who use to coach at Wake, when those guys say your guys have gotten better individually and collectively. Sometimes, as a coach, when you are around them every day you just over analyze it, but I feel we have gotten better. Obviously when look you look at how we take care of the ball now, and obviously when you look at how we feed the post ... We are getting better. We are getting better so I am hopeful we will continue."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
LSU CENTER JUSTIN HAMILTON
On LSU Missing Free Throws...
"That kind of surprised me. The past couple of days we have been shooting a lot of free throws, and we have been hitting them a lot. Coming into the game, we knew we were going to have to make a few free throws because we knew it was going to be a tight game. At the end, we needed to calm down and just take our time to knock down those free throws."
On Georgia's Ability to Put Pressure on LSU's Offense ...
"They did a good job. It seemed every time I had the ball there were a lot of guys around me, so it put me in a tough spot. Credit goes to my teammates though; they did a really good job tonight making the right plays."
On the Team's Preparation for this Game vs. Georgia ...
"We knew that they ran a lot of similar stuff as us. We knew that we were just going to have to out-execute them ... possession-after-possession. We knew they were a physical team; we just had to find a way to win."
LSU FORWARD JOHNNY O'BRYANT III
On His Performance in the First Half ...
"I was being aggressive. They kept the baseline open, so I knew that if I could get to the middle, there wouldn't be anybody there. They started bringing in two men. They tried to put extra coverage on me to keep me from getting to the baseline."
On LSU's Ability to Gain an Early Lead ...
"We came out more aggressive than Georgia. We threw the first punches. We were attacking them. Later in the game our shots stopped falling, though. Georgia took advantage of that and made plays that brought them back into the game."
LSU GUARD ANDRE STRINGER
On the Upcoming Game Against Ole Miss ...
"Our team never stopped being aggressive, and it worked out for us tonight. We know that going to Ole Miss is going to be a hostile environment. They are a very good team. They have gotten better throughout the season. I know a lot of their guys are healthy. It is going to be very imperative that we listen to Coach [Johnson] tomorrow, watch film and focus on what we have to do. If we go down there and compete and play defense, I think we will be there in the end."
Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox
"It's hard to win when you don't come as prepared to play as you need to. I just felt that we got off to a very poor start, and we played uphill from that point forward. Certainly they had more free-throw attempts than us, but we have to have a more mature mentality when we come to the gym."
On the play of Center John Cannon
"John has been practicing really well. He's had a real hard time learning the system of play. It's been tough for him and he's made a lot of progress there and I thought tonight he played pretty well."
On the slow start and the use of some unusual line-ups
"It certainly affected our efficiency offensively because we had so many disjointed lineups in the game. We obviously had to foul at the end, which makes the free-throw shooting look like even more of a margin. It's hard to climb back anywhere when you can't get to the line."
On Georgia's defense on LSU's Justin Hamilton
"Well, we held him down. I think our defense was fairly solid. We didn't rebound quite as well as we'd like to, but then again, the Achilles heel of our team, we missed some easy shots around the goal. We've got to get to the point where we finish those."
On the effort in the second half to get back into the game
"We got back in a position to win the game and after a slow start that was the mission. To get back and have a chance to win it, but they made those back-to-back three's which really hurt us. Then we went to man (defense) and picked up a quick foul. We just had a tough time matching up to their man-to-man."
On LSU's Andre Stringer
"You play to the numbers, and tonight he didn't perform to the numbers. He shot it a little bit better, a little out of character and you have to give him credit for that."
GEORGIA PLAYER QUOTES
GUARD GERALD ROBINSON
On his thoughts on the game...
"We started off extremely too slow, digging ourselves into a big hole. It was hard for us to overcome, and we didn't play with the dedication and determination to overcome that deficit."
On what he feels the team needs to improve on going forward...
"We just need to play hard. It never should be your effort. We just have to play harder from top-to-bottom and be more competitive. We need to make sure we come out strong and compete the entire game."