BATON ROUGE - Performing with the intensity they showed this past Sunday against Memphis, the LSU Tigers responded the way Coach Trent Johnson was looking for in a 78-36 thrashing of Centenary Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers (3-2) travel Sunday at Mobile, Ala., to take on South Alabama at 3 p.m. in the annual Coors Classic presented by the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The game will be regionally televised by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).
Against the Gents, in a transitional year from Division I to Division III, LSU weathered an early Centenary storm in which the Gents hit its first four field goals from beyond the arc. That allowed the Gents to stay close after LSU went out to an 8-1 lead on two Aaron Dotson treys for the Tigers. The Centenary treys got the lead down to 12-10 and 16-13 nine minutes in before LSU went on a 23-8 run to close the half to go to the intermission up, 39-21.
Andre Stringer's field goal with seven seconds left in the half was the start of what would be a 34-4 LSU run over the first 14 minutes of the second half that would eventually balloon the lead to 44 points on three occasions inside the final 6:30 of the game.
Every Tiger that dressed played at least 12 minutes and no LSU player played more than 24 minutes. Stringer hit four treys and for the fifth straight game led LSU in scoring with 16 points and more importantly four assists and just one turnover in 19 minutes. Malcolm White hit all six of his field goal attempts in the first half and finished 6-of-7 from the field for 14 points and seven boards.
Garrett Green, who had his career high of eight points against Memphis, got eight points again against the Gents but had a career night on the boards with nine rebounds as LSU out rebounded Centenary, 43-26.
LSU shot 47.5 percent for the game (29-of-61) and a very strong 41.7 percent from the arc (10-of-24). For the fourth straight game the turnover number dropped, this time to single digits with nine as LSU had 17 assists for its 29 buckets. The Gents (0-6) hit just 28.3 percent for the game (13-of-46) and after hitting the first four treys, was 0-for-11 the remainder of the game.
"We got a chance to play everybody," said LSU Coach Johnson, who won his 200th career game in his 12 years as a head coach. "I thought our efficiency in terms of sharing the ball and setting the screens was pretty good, but more importantly, I thought our mental approach to this game, which is what I was concerned about, was just like our previous game (with Memphis). That's without us as coaches or me as the head coach having to motivate them because I was very quiet in the pre-game. I was very quiet throughout the day. I wanted to see what their approach was going to be. That's good for us."
The Tigers will look to put what they learned in the last two games in practice at the Mitchell Center against the Jaguars, who are 2-2 on the season.
"They are all tests," said Johnson. "South Alabama is a lot different. They're very explosive and very quick. They're probably not in a good place right now because they haven't played very well their last two times out, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be very challenging for us. It's a good thing we have two days of preparation and two practice days."
After the South Alabama game, the Tigers will face Houston Tuesday at the Maravich Center in the final game before the school dead week-final exam period. Tickets for the game are on sale at LSUtix.net.
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LSU HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
"First of all, I really sympathize with Centenary and the job coach (Adam Walsh) is doing because I've been in that situation before when you go into a game where you're physically over-matched, and there's a skill level and experience factor. You're trying to build a program, and I know that feeling, so I sympathize. Their kids kept playing, they kept running their stuff and they kept executing. For me, I understand being on that side a long, long time ago. We got a chance to play everybody. I thought our efficiency in terms of sharing the ball and setting the screens was pretty good, but more importantly, I thought our mental approach to this game, which is what I was concerned about, was just like our previous game. That's without us as coaches or me as the head coach having to motivate them because I was very quiet in the pre-game. I was very quiet throughout the day. I wanted to see what their approach was going to be. That's good for us."
On if they accomplished what they were hoping to accomplish tonight...
"These guys are good kids. They try to do to the best of their ability what we ask them to do. We wanted to get Malcolm and Storm going, establish a presence in the post and go inside-out and make sure we clean up our shot selection and take care of the ball. We had nine turnovers. There were probably two of them there by (Ralston) Turner, which shouldn't have happened, but for the most part, yes, and we got a chance to play a lot of people, which is the reason why when you schedule games, you look at scheduling a game like this, right around Thanksgiving and coming off a game (Memphis) like you anticipate during the course of a schedule."
On South Alabama...
"They are all tests. South Alabama is a lot different. They're very explosive and very quick. They're probably not in a good place right now because they haven't played very well their last two times out, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be very challenging for us. It's a good thing we have two days of preparation and two practice days."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
Forward Malcolm White
On holding Centenary to 36 points...
"With Coach Johnson that was the game plan. Even though it was a smaller team with smaller players, we still wanted to come out aggressively on defense, defend the three-point line and inside-out. We just executed that game plan."
On not having to play much of the second half...
"You get to rest. You get your legs back up under you, but I know that's not going to happen too much longer."
On playing well in the past two games...
"Nothing changed. We practice hard, and one of the things Coach Johnson was telling us was that it doesn't matter what opponent you're playing or if they're smaller. We still have to come out and execute, and that's what good teams do."
Guard Andre Stringer
On playing well in the past two games...
"I definitely think we're finding ourselves. We are getting in a rhythm. We are still practicing hard every day, and we're just getting in a better rhythm. We're knowing our teammates better."
On if it is difficult to figure out your teammates in a game where they are not tested as much as they would have liked...
"I wouldn't say it's difficult. Obviously we just have to come out and play hard in every game no matter who we play. Coach Johnson stresses that a lot. Moving forward, nothing is going to be easy, so it's imperative that each and every night we come out and play hard, play within our rules and do what we've been taught to do."
CENTENARY HEAD COACH ADAM WALSH
Opening Statement ...
"LSU played with great effort tonight. Their guys shot it the way we expected them to, their post players played the way we expected them to and our guys just didn't match their effort out there tonight."
On what LSU did so well ...
"LSU just executed. They ran their stuff. They ran the high-low action, their shooters made shots and their post players worked hard inside. It is what they do, they are a half court offense and they ran it. It was nothing special defensively, they just ran their offense and they were good enough defensively that they made us work."
On the goals for the rest of the season ...
"For us it is just another game. It is a game that nobody else expects us to win anyway, so for our guys it is just another marker to move past for the season and get to the next game. We've got conference next week. Our last game was our best game of the season against Northwestern State, our energy level was there and we play them again on Tuesday. I expect big things that game and going into conference play."