BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team and coach Johnny Jones host in-state rival McNeese and Jones' longtime friend Dave Simmons Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Both teams are 1-0 on the young season with the Tigers winning, 77-63, over UC Santa Barbara, while McNeese was a 72-54 winner over Louisiana College.
The game will be the first of the Student Point Nights for LSU students to earn points for attending the game. LSU Students receive free admission with a valid LSU ID.
Also, fans who attended the Mississippi State football game on Saturday can show their ticket at the ticket windows at the PMAC on Tuesday and purchase a ticket for the basketball game at the discounted rate of $5.
The game will be regionally televised by Cox Sports TV, while the game will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Tickets are available at LSUtix.net and beginning one hour prior to tipoff at the upper concourse ticket windows at the PMAC.
Jones and Simmons both played at DeRidder High in southwest Louisiana with Simmons a senior when Jones was a freshman. Jones said in his media session Monday that the pair had agreed not to schedule each other because of their close friendship, but the game was already set on the schedule by the previous staff when Jones took the LSU position.
This will mark the 21st time that LSU has played McNeese State, dating back to the first meeting when Burton Coliseum opened in 1986. LSU has won all 20 previous meetings, but the last won in 2010 went to overtime.
Jones also started that forward Johnny O'Bryant III, who had 13 points and eight rebounds, in the first 13 minutes of the Santa Barbara game, will be a "longshot" to play on Tuesday after suffering a lower leg injury that forced him to the dressing room.
LSU had three other players in double figures with Charles Carmouche getting 16 and Malik Morgan and Shane Hammink each getting 10. Anthony Hickey had a strong night with six assists, no turnovers and the first seven steal game for LSU since 2009.
McNeese was led by point guard Dontae Cannon with 21 points, while Jeremie Mitchell had 14 and Adrian Fields 11.
LSU will play Southland Conference schools in back-to-back game as LSU hosts Northwestern State next Tuesday, November 20.
Coach Jones met with the media and here are some of his comments from Monday's session:
"I thought we came off a good game on Friday night. It was a great way to get off to a great start in the season. Unfortunately for us, the Johnny O'Bryant III injury obviously was a concern for us, but I was really pleased with the way that our guys responded to the injury. They continued to play, stayed focused and finished off the game in great fashion. The attitude that they came back to practice with yesterday was very satisfying as well. We look forward to getting back out on Tuesday and trying to see if we can continue to move forward with this basketball team on executing offensively, and trying to get better defensively. I thought we made some improvement from our first exhibition game. I thought we made some improvement from there to our first real game on Friday against UC Santa Barbara. We're hopeful that we can continue to make that of improvement on Tuesday against a good McNeese State basketball team."
On Johnny O'Bryant III's injury...
"He didn't practice with us yesterday. I would think that he possibly wouldn't be going with us (Monday) as well from the position he was in (Sunday). Until my trainer tells me different, it would be tough to say if we would have him available for Tuesday. I think that would be a long shot if that was to happen."
"When I took this job, I knew that I was coming here to really try and make sure that we built a winning program, not just a winning team. It's important that you do it the right way. We won't do anything with Johnny that we wouldn't do with anyone else. We want to make sure we do the right things by him. This is a great opportunity for us, and we have to approach it the right way. We look forward to Johnny getting back but take advantage of what we have now."
On the team's success rebounding...
"I think we had to really remain really aggressive against (UC Santa Barbara). They were a team that took a lot of long shots as well. We were able to rebound the ball. Even with Johnny (O'Bryant III) in the game, they had two or three offensive opportunities and put backs in there as well. So we had to remain aggressive as a team, not only rebounding the ball but playing as well. Johnny is a phenomenal player. I thought he got off to a great start in that game, but I thought our guys continue to play even with his absence on both ends of the floor. Offensively, I thought we probably moved a little more fluent with him not being there because a lot of times when the ball touched his hands inside he was able to get looks that he wanted so our offense stopped which forced our guys to have to do some other things offensively to get open. It created more movement for us, and we were fortunate they were able to knock down shots as well."
On looking back at the first game against UC Santa Barbara...
"I think the big thing is our improvement defensively. I hope we can continue to improve. One of the things that we were most disappointed by in our scrimmage and our exhibition was our lack of intensity defensively. I thought we were able to pick that up in this game. Again, we gave up 41 rebounds. We have to do a better job. I think there may have been 16 to 18 offensive rebounds. We have to do a much better job of controlling the boards in that aspect. You can't give up that many second-chance opportunities. I thought we did a good job of holding them to a low field goal percentage but giving them second-chance opportunities like that will hurt us. You can't do that against good teams night in and night out. We have to get better."
On using Shavon Coleman against bigger opponents...
"He is very good with his feet in terms of getting around. He is long and lengthy with is arms. He has guarded big guys before. He has guarded Johnny in practice several times where he has had to defend in there. He can be one of those guys that are very capable of defending from the one to the five. Not on a constant basis, but I think he has the ability to do so. He is very illusive. He doesn't allow post guys to pin him inside. He is able to get around them, swim them and usually get a deflection on the ball. That's a plus for him, but that's not a steady diet for us for him to have to draw that type of assignment."
On whether Shavon Coleman will play the four position exclusively this season...
"I think he'll play some three for us as well because he's one of our better perimeter defenders out there. He is relentless and very tough. I can see going with a big strong lineup like that. He is very capable of finishing at the rim. He has a nice mid-range game. Shavon is one of those guys that can play inside and out for us. He becomes a matchup problem for a smaller three man if we're out there, and we happen to go what we would consider big at that time. That would be Shavon playing at the three for us. I think he will get most of his time right now in the absence of Johnny (O'Bryant III) at the four spot."
On Anthony Hickey and Shane Hammink coming back from suspensions...
"I think both of those guys, effort wise, was great in practice. Both of them really competed extremely well, and I thought both played well in the game. I think it was an opportunity for both of those guys to grow. I think it has been a positive for both and a good learning experience. I thought both of them not only practiced well, but both of them delivered in the game for us the other night as well."
On facing off against McNeese State Head Coach Dave Simmons...
"(Dave Simmons) was a high school teammate of mine. He was actually a senior my freshman year (at DeRidder High School). I actually backed him up on my high school team. He is one of the guys I really idolized growing up. Actually, that's how I got the number 12, because I wanted to fill in his shoes and follow him there in high school. He was a tremendous basketball player. He played at Louisiana Tech, and he is just an incredible person. To grow up in the same neighborhood and have an opportunity to be in this position coaching against him is something that is very different for me. We would never schedule each other when I was at North Texas and he was at McNeese State because we never really wanted to play each other. Because this schedule is already set this happens for us. It will be a very interesting game for both of us, and obviously a very emotional time for both of us because we've grown up together and remained the best of friends over the years. It will be a good day for us tomorrow."