Men's Basketball to Face Florida on CBS
Communications Sr. Associate
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The LSU men’s basketball team travels here to the O’Connell Center for a nationally-televised Southeastern Conference basketball clash with the 2014 league champions, top-ranked Florida Saturday afternoon.
The game is set for a 4 p.m. EST tip (3 p.m. Baton Rouge time) and will be televised on CBS with Vern Lundquist and Bill Raftery on the call. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and studio host Kevin Ford will have the call on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (listed below).
The Tigers are 17-10 and 8-7 in the SEC, in a four-way tie for fourth place with three games to go with Tennessee, Ole Miss and Arkansas. Florida, the league regular season champions after Kentucky’s loss to Arkansas Thursday night, is 26-2 and 15-0 and ranked No. 1 in both polls.
The Tigers will be playing a No. 1 team for the 18th time with a record of 3-14. LSU has defeated No. 1 ranked Duke in the 2006 NCAA Sweet 16 round in Atlanta, and in Baton Rouge the Tigers defeated No. 1 ranked Arizona in 2002 and No. 1 Kentucky in overtime in 1978. LSU has lost in its last three meetings against No. 1 teams – North Carolina in 2009 and twice to Kentucky in 2012.
LSU won its seventh straight SEC home win on Wednesday, 69-48, over Texas A&M. It gave LSU seven league road wins for the first time since 2009 and it was win No. 499 for men’s basketball in the history of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Freshman Jarell Martin had his sixth double figure scoring game in the last eight contests with a season high of 20 points for the second straight Wednesday. Johnny O’Bryant III had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Andre Stringer had three treys in an 11-point effort. Jordan Mickey moved past the 90-block plateau with 92 after five blocks against A&M.
Florida won its league game No. 15 on the road Tuesday night at Nashville, holding off Vanderbilt, 57-54. Dorian Finney-Smith hit three treys and had 19 points to lead the Gators while Patric Young added 12. Casey Prather leads Florida in scoring at 14.8 points per game, with Scottie Wilbekin at 13.5, Michael Frazier at 12.2 and Young at 10.8 a game.
O’Bryant III leads LSU with a 15.5 points per game average, while pulling down 7.8 rebounds a game. Anthony Hickey, who had his second straight career game of eight assists on Wednesday, is averaging 3.8 assists per game and leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3 (103 assists and 31 turnovers).
This is the first of two straight on the road for LSU as they will travel to Vanderbilt on Thursday before finishing up the regular season at home on March 8 against Georgia.
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Coach Johnny jones met with the media prior to the team’s departure for Gainesville and here were some of his comments:
“I thought we played one of our better games (against Texas A&M) on the defensive end of the floor, sharing the basketball and having the ability to score from a variety of ways. It’s exciting to look at it and know that we are going to need that going into our game this weekend against the No. 1 team in the country (Florida). We are going to need to be certainly hitting on all cylinders – offensively, defensively, rebounding, communicating – all of those things are going to have to come together for us to have an opportunity to compete at the level in which we will certainly need to. But that’s a challenge we look forward to. That’s why I think our guys sign (at LSU). They go to school, want to play at this level and that’s what it’s all about – playing against the best. It doesn’t get any better than playing against a team that has tradition. Florida has won national championships and are sitting there leading the conference ... It wouldn’t be any other place that you’d want to be.”
If he sees things better defensively between the last two games and the difference between the two A&M contests…
“Well – kind of two different games. I thought we did a good job of guarding the three-point line the last two games. We were hurting and being defeated by because teams had hit high percentages and around 10 three-pointers in two or three of the games leading up until that point. Kentucky hit one three-pointer – I think we may have given up three or four three-pointers last night, and I think they may have finished the game 4-for-17. But we’ve guarded the rim better – I thought last night more so than even the Kentucky game. That’s a scenario where we will have to continue to grow. Not only guarding that area but rebounding the basketball and trying to prevent them from second-chance and easy scoring opportunities.”
On Florida’s Patric Young…
“Well, I think he’s massive. I think he’s one of the bigger, stronger and more physical guys in the country. Not only a tremendous athlete who can really run, can jump and has a lot of the qualities that it takes. He works extremely hard, and that’s anytime he’s out there on the floor. He understands the position that he’s in, and the role that he needs to play for that team and has done that. He’s been highly effective at doing it.”
On why Florida is so good in tight games…
“Because that’s their makeup – I think they’re a senior-dominated type of team. They have great leadership on their team. They’ve been in those types of games through the years, and they have the ability to close. I think when you have guys who understand their roles and can make big plays – they know exactly who they go to. I think it’s shown in their record. They’ve had some big games where they’ve had blowouts. Then, they’ve had really close games as well. They’ve been really balanced, and they’ve been battle tested.”
On gaining confidence to go toe-to-toe with opponents on the road…
“Yes, we felt that way prior to going into the Kentucky game. We went into that game really confident regardless of the setbacks that we’ve had before. We felt like we’ve played well in some of those games, and the Kentucky game wasn’t any different. Unfortunately, we didn’t at the end of the day – we came up a little short, but we were confident. I thought we played that way again last night. So when we leave here and go on the road, we are a very confident basketball team. It’s one of those things that’s good for us – people don’t talk about it a lot – we’ve had seven straight home conference wins. When we’ve gone out on the road, we’ve been very close in some of those games. That will certainly be our approach in our next outing.”
On experience being the main reason of success for Florida’s defense…
“I think it’s a balance of both because of how good they are defensively. I think it has a lot to do with the experience that they have on their team. That is not something that happens overnight. They are well drilled, conditioned. Their rotations and the way they play – they are very comfortable, familiar and really trust each other. When you have that with a basketball team, that is a big positive for you. That has a lot to do with the maturity of their team.”
On what Florida does better than others in terms of defending the perimeter…
“They do a great job in terms of identifying and being scouting report oriented in what they need to do. When you have the basketball, they have a lot of eyes on you. They are in the right position and trying to take away driving lines. They’re switching and picking people up and helping – communicating and at the end of the day, they are rebounding the basketball. They are a physical team as well. They are strong and play with a sense of urgency and toughness all the time.”
On what runs through his mind when he sees the No. 1 ranked team ahead of them…
“One - you are excited it about it because it is in your conference. They are the top-ranked team in the country. You have an opportunity to go play and utilize them as a measuring stick this time of the year to see where you are. You have a team like that on their home floor who has played exceptionally well. I think the last time they had a setback was at UConn on a last second shot. That’s a tough way for them to lose. To bounce back and go on a winning streak like they have, you get excited about that when you see that No. 1 ranking out there in front of them. You have an opportunity to go compete against it.”
On the point guard matchup in the upcoming game against Florida…
“I think both guys (Anthony Hickey and Scottie Wilbekin) are very competitive. I think it is going to be an exciting game to watch - that matchup - because both of them compete very well. Both of them certainly present different challenges for each other.”
On Florida’s transition game…
“The good thing about Florida’s basketball team - they can play a lot of different ways because they are built that way. They have speed. If they have the opportunity to run, they will. If they need to slow it down, they can play that way as well. They can press you and jump up and be very aggressive. They can get back and get into a zone defense. They are a type of team that can play a lot of different ways because of the experience that they have. In terms of controlling tempo or playing fast, we just have to make sure that we take advantage of opportunities that they give us.”
LSU Sports Radio Network Affiliates
WDGL 98.1 FM, Baton Rouge; KSYL 970 AM, Alexandria; WBOX 92.9 FM, Bogalusa; KFNV 107.1 FM, Ferriday; KJIN 1490 AM/KCIL 96.7 FM, Houma; KJNA 102.7 FM, Jena; KLWB 103.7 FM, Lafayette; KXZZ 1580 AM, Lake Charles; KJAE 93.5 FM, Leesville; KMLB 540 AM, Monroe; KFRA 1390AM, Morgan City; KWLV 107.1 FM Natchitoches; WWL 870, AM/105.3 FM, New Orleans; KRUS 1490 AM, Ruston; KWKH 1130 AM, Shreveport; KTJZ 97.5 FM, Tallulah; WFCG 107.3 FM, Tylertown, MS; and, KVPI 1050 AM, Ville Platte