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Basketball Prepares for Wednesday Night at PMAC
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Published: February 24, 2014, 07:19 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE -- The LSU men’s basketball team resumed practice in preparation for its second meeting of the season with Texas A&M in a game scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tickets are on sale at LSUtix.net. The first 2,500 fans will receive binoculars with the LSU logo and Pete Rabbit, the Bucket Drummer, will be the halftime entertainment. LSU students will be admitted free of charge.

The game will be televised by SEC TV and its syndicated network while the radio broadcast will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.

The Tigers and Aggies are part of the seven-way tie for fourth place in the Southeastern Conference at 7-7. The Aggies defeated LSU, 83-73, back on Feb. 12 in the first meeting at Texas A&M. LSU will be looking for its seventh consecutive SEC home victory, topping the mark of six it won the last two seasons.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Monday and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“Coming off of a hard-fought battle on Saturday against a very tough (Kentucky) team, a team that was ranked preseason as one of the top four teams in the country and a team with the No. 1 recruiting class. I thought in type of a venue (Rupp Arena), our team played extremely well. We played hard throughout for 45 minutes. Unfortunately, we came up a little short. We have more of the same this week with a tough Texas A&M team coming in – three of their last four games they’ve played, they’ve won. They’ve been very challenging in the setback they had at Vanderbilt. Then, on Saturday, the No. 1 team in the country has been playing well in Florida. They are undefeated in conference play and have done a tremendous job. We look forward to those challenges, and we’re hopeful that we can maybe get some separation being one of seven teams with a 7-7 record. We’re hopeful to play well enough to start making some separation with the other teams that are involved there.”

On it being tough to rebound after the Kentucky loss…
“No – I think it’s just evidence of where our guys are and how tough they are capable of competing. I don’t buy into anything else outside of preparation and getting ready really for the next game because we are playing at one of the tougher venues in college basketball. If you are worried or concerned how hard you are going to play and challenge be it away from home, I think they were able to answer a lot of questions because they did it in one of the greatest environments. I thought a play here or there – a call here or there, you have an opportunity to get a victory there. Even with that, we would have to get ready for the games we have going on this week as well especially the game on Wednesday. That is certainly where our focus would be regardless of the outcome of that game.”

On his team continuing to play and execute at a high level…
“The good thing for them – to be able to play at that level and to compete at that level, that switch has to already be on. Our guys have been challenged. We’ve had setbacks this year, but I think you can see how close those games were when we had them. I think it’s a credit to what our guys have been able to do in a very strong and tough league. I think it’s evident – when you look from top to bottom with where the records are in the win-loss column, two teams have separated themselves. That’s Florida, the No. 1 team in the country, and Kentucky as well, who has had a great year but has had some challenges and close games along with Florida. Florida has had to win some overtime games and win some games late into the second half. With that, I think our guys have done a tremendous job of challenging in this league.”

On if he was surprised on how well Texas A&M played in the first meeting…
“No – I think they played well … Johnny O’Bryant III – how we scored early on, and had a great lead even when he went to the bench. They made some big shots. (Jamal) Jones, a great shooter, wound up knocking down five three’s. They ended up having 10 three’s for the game. They hit some timely three-pointers really in the first half. They knocked down some big shots. We were right there. In the second half, they were able to make some plays.”

On approaching players differently during the last two weeks of the season…
“That’s how it is – our approach has got to be that we’ve always tried to make sure that we play with a sense of urgency in all of those games. With four regular season games left, it’s about the fine print and the details that you want to put into it. We’ve got to make sure that we are as focused as we can possibly be going into those games – try to limit as many mistakes as we possibly can and create other opportunities because of our opponent’s mistakes. When you get to this point of the year, it’s important you’re playing well at the right time. We want to make sure that we’re there.”

On the team’s effort not translating on the court…
“I think the effort, everything else that is talked about, is there. It’s just a matter of translating them into wins instead of setbacks. You get frustrated with that, but I think the approach has been unbelievable. I don’t think we’ve really come up short in terms of the effort category. They certainly, be it in practice or when we’ve had setbacks, have come and put forth what they needed to get better. They’ve put that into the game to allow us to be in that battle. As long as we’re doing that, some good things have a chance of happening to you. You just have to try to get on the other side. We were a rebound away or a stop away – a ball bouncing the other way from getting a great victory Saturday. It just didn’t happen for us.”

On it being a good sign that a loss like the Kentucky game bothers the players …
“It’s a great sign anytime guys have setbacks that they’re looking forward to the type of challenges. When you lose to team that is capable of Top 10 or Top 15 team, that your guys are disappointed and not sitting there excited just because you played them close or had chances to win. Their mindset and mentality was going in there and winning the basketball game. Anything short of that, we weren’t going to be satisfied. They are not satisfied about that. “

On using close games as a tool down the stretch …
“The thing you point to is the separation. If you do a great job of it and things fall your way, the tournament getting those Top four seeds is what you play for. It is important. If you get in that, you only have to play three games. At the same time, it puts you that much higher in terms of your conference record. Our approach would be we’ve got the next game is really important to us. We have to go down the pecking order in these next four games and see where we fall.  The best foot has to certainly be forward. We have to cut down on the mistakes and pay attention to detail. At this time, there is not much room for error in terms of your play to win games. As you can see, all of the games are close and contested game when you look at those scores. If that’s the case, it’s only be it a free throw, a basket here, a basket there, a rebound that can be the difference in these games.”

On if effort was an issue with rebounding during the Kentucky game …
“No – it was certainly not an effort issue. I think they wound up beating us on the boards by four or five.  They are one of the nation’s leaders in offensive rebounding. They are that type of team.  The last shot that got us wasn’t more so a rebound – it was a blocked shot, botched play for them. It was really just a loose ball that (Julius) Randle wound up coming down with it because he wasn’t at the rim. He made a tough play in the middle. At the end of the day, if you win the war on the boards you give yourself a better opportunity or chance. The least amount of times that your opponent has for extra shot opportunities, the better off you are. They are excellent at that. They had several offensive rebounds. If we could have won the rebound war in that area and kept them off the offensive glass – two things, one is the easy scoring opportunities they will put you in a position where they’re close scoring or close proximity wise, you take a chance of getting fouls there because you’re trying to defend the rim. That’s where a lot of games are won and lost right there at the rim.”  

On using the first Texas A&M game as motivation…
“There is not a whole lot you have to talk about because everybody is aware of our schedule and our opponents as we are. Texas A&M – by us having a setback there and the way that we did – they knocked down shots, they played well and rebounded well. We weren’t as efficient as we needed to be on both ends of the floor. Johnny (O’Bryant III) got back in the second half and they still made plays.  We cut the lead down to four, but Texas A&M played well enough to get the victory. We have to make sure we respond the right way. ”

On John Odo’s valuable minutes...
“I thought it was good. He had a good block at the basket on Saturday. Then, we trusted him on the other end. Hickey gave him a nice pass, and he gave us a great finish at the rim in traffic.  He is very capable. John has been banged up a little bit. He has been bothered by issues with his knee that probably hasn’t allowed him to go maybe as hard as he would like. He is a tremendous asset. He forces and gets us better each day at practice. Johnny (O’Bryant III) has a lot of competition that he faces each day at practice which has allowed him to be as effective as he has been in games because of what he’s up against every day in practice. John Odo certainly is a part in that. “

On Shavon Coleman’s strongest aspect of his game…
“I think his leadership out there on the floor has really helped us. Again, I like to call him the “glue guy” really for us. The impact that he has on the team as whole. But I think offensively, he has become a better shooter be it from the 3-point line, midrange or finishing at the rim. Defensively, he’s a key guy for us because of what he brings out there. It doesn’t matter to him from point to post, he will try to defend it. He’s tried to work extremely hard on defending those guys out there as well.”

 

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