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Photo by:Hilary Scheinuk, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Men's Basketball Returns to Face South Alabama
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Published: November 22, 2011, 05:41 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team returns to play after a week-long road trip in the state of South Carolina when it hosts the University of South Alabama Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tickets for the contest are available through 5 p.m. Wednesday at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office and online at www.LSUtix.net. Tickets are $10 for adult and $5 for youth (ages 3-12) and the up ramp ticket office of the Maravich Center will open at 5 p.m.

LSU students are admitted free with their LSU ID.

The game will be televised regionally on Cox Sports Television with the radio broadcast available in Baton Rouge on the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger). The game will also be available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.

LSU was 2-2 on its road trip, including a 2-1 record in the Charleston Classic, which upped LSU's overall mark to 3-2. South Alabama comes into the game with a 1-2 mark.

The Tigers won its final two games in the tournament after a narrow 88-82 loss to Northwestern in the opener. LSU then used a dominating second half to pull away from Western Kentucky, 76-57, and took fifth place in the event with a strong defensive effort in a 59-50 win over Georgia Tech.

Freshman point guard Anthony Hickey of Hopkinsville, Ky., was named to the Charleston Classic five-man all-tournament team after a strong performance that concluded with a 20-point effort in the Georgia Tech win. Hickey comes into the game averaging 13.4 points a game, 14th in the Southeastern Conference, and he is seventh in assists a t 3.8 per game.

It is expected that LSU will stay with the same lineup that started the first five games with Hickey being joined at guard by sophomores Andre Stringer (Jackson, Miss.) and Ralston Turner (Muscle Shoals, Ala.). Junior Justin Hamilton (Alpine, Utah) is at center with senior Storm Warren (Monroe, La.) at the forward position.

Hamilton is averaging 11.2 points per game and 6.6 rebounds, while Turner has posted a 10.6 points per game average with Stringer at 10.2.

South Alabama comes in off a Sunday night struggle at Florida State, losing 80-39. USA missed all 24 three-point attempts in the contest as Augustine Rubit scored 10 points.

Last year, LSU won an 80-65 decision after making 10-13 first half three-pointers in Mobile in the first half of this home-and-home series.

After this game, LSU is back on the road for another week, leaving Monday for a Tuesday night game at the University of Houston that will be televised by the CBS Sports Network. LSU also will travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers on Saturday, Dec. 3, on ESPNU in the Big East-SEC Challenge. The Tigers will then take a week off for semester exams before getting a chance to play again at home on Dec. 10 against Boise State.

Here are some of Coach Trent Johnson's comments earlier Tuesday from his pre-game media session regarding the South Alabama game and recent games in South Carolina:

Opening Statement...
"I took a look at South Alabama's game tape against Mississippi State. In the second half, they were tied 33-33. They are a very athletic and explosive team. What I tried to emphasize to our guys is that we have to build off the defensive performances that we had last game [Georgia Tech]. Last year, we had an unbelievable shooting performance at their place. This is a team [South Alabama] that can cause problems for you. If you're not at the top of your game, there will be problems for you. Our emphasis has been on defending and getting better. We had some break downs offensively against Georgia Tech, but we did a good job for the most part in the second half of guarding and finding ways to win the game."

On the road trip...
"We developed some consistency on the trip. Coming into this year, we thought as a group that if we defended, took care of the ball and rebounded at a high rate we thought we could be in games and beat quality teams. We got pounded on the boards against Coastal Carolina, but I was not surprised by anything else."

On the balance of scoring...
"We have a nucleus of returning guys and a point guard playing all at a high level. John Isaac is doing a great job of defending and taking care of the ball as a freshman. With the addition of the new guys, it puts us in situation where we can be a solid team and can score the ball. As long as we continue to do those things and guys not try to win the possession or the game by themselves, we will continue to get good balance."

Anthony Hickey's effect on the team...
"We were very fortunate to get a player of Anthony Hickey's caliber in the spring.  We are still 3-2, came in fifth place in the Charleston Classic and we have a lot of games left to play. I addressed to these guys [after the Georgia Tech game] is where do we go from here? Andre Stringer said it best in the locker room 'We have a long way to go guys, let's not get satisfied.' Right now, we are getting solid contributions from a lot of people. The thing is that we are still just 3-2 when we would much rather be 4-1 or 5-0."

On the improvement of the defense...
"We forced 23 turnovers against Georgia Tech and 20 against Western Kentucky. I thought that for just one day of preparation and having a young team we guarded Northwestern really well. You have one guy [John Shurna], who will play in the NBA, get his career high. They didn't get any backdoor cuts in the Princeton offense, and we did a really good job of guarding that. We got up 31-19, but what hurt us is we didn't knock down many shots. You will get better when you play a team of that caliber [Northwestern] and then get only one day of preparation for a team that plays a different style in Western Kentucky. Then you have to take a day off before you play an ACC team in Georgia Tech."

On Johnny O'Bryant III ...
"Johnny still has to learn a lot. He gets down on himself when he misses a shot. That is typical for most freshmen. Anthony Hickey's biggest improvement is that he didn't play well against Coastal Carolina, but he was really consistent to his approach to the game. Johnny gets a lot better off his natural ability, and he has to keep his head up when things don't go well."

On the Depth of the team...
"We have Ralston Turner and Andre Stringer averaging less than 30 minutes a game. That is huge being on the road and playing the toughest schedule we had since I have been here. Playing Coastal Carolina, who is a talented team, then going back-to-back with Northwestern and Western Kentucky, have a day off and then play Georgia Tech, who is physical, you need everyone ready to go all year long."

On the contributions of the bench...
"Eddie (Ludwig) is going to be a major factor for us this season. He was shooting the ball extremely well going into the season, and we expect him to pick that back up. I have to get him back on the floor and give him more minutes. I also have to get Jalen (Courtney) back on the floor. Jalen did a really good job against Western Kentucky. He made a three-pointer and got fouled. I need to find ways to get them both on the floor more. John's (Isaac) ability to guard and take care of the ball is what we need. His assist-to-turnover ratio is good for a freshman. He is a kid coming out of high school where everything went through him. That's a big adjustment when you are used to scoring and doing whatever you want. Now his primary role is defending, we need contributions from everyone."

On South Alabama...
"Florida State is one of the best defensive teams under Leonard Hamilton in the last 10 years. The game with South Alabama doesn't even register with me. This is a team under Ronnie Arrow's leadership that is always going to come out and going to fight you. They always will be a physical team. They ran up and down against Mississippi State and had opportunities. They had the game within six in Starkville with six minutes to go in the game. It is no difference for us. We need to be ready to play, concerned about playing well and continue to improve."

 

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