COLUMBIA, Mo. - The LSU men's basketball team makes its first-ever appearance at the Mizzou Arena here Saturday afternoon as the LSU Tigers face the Missouri Tigers in the second meeting between the two teams this year.
The game is set to tip at just after 3 p.m. as the second half of the Saturday doubleheader on the SEC Network (Stations in Louisiana: Alexandria - KLAX-DT2; Baton Rouge - WAFB; Lafayette - KADN; Monroe - KARD; New Orleans - WUPL; Shreveport - KMSS). The radio broadcast will be on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
LSU is 17-9, 8-7 in the league and coming off a 65-60 win at home over the University of Arkansas on Wednesday, while Missouri upped its record to 20-8 and 9-6 in the league with their 90-68 win at South Carolina on Thursday night.
Missouri, which is 15-0 at home, followed up an overtime loss at Kentucky last Saturday by shooting 69.6 percent for the game (32-of-46) from the field, while making 6-of-9 from the arc and 20-of-26 from the line. Keion Bell led Missouri with 24 points, while Jabari Brown had 23 and Alex Oriakhi 18.
LSU has won 8-of-11 after starting 0-4 in the league and one of those wins was the Maravich Center when Missouri was ranked 17th in the national polls. LSU was a 73-70 winner as Johnny O'Bryant III had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Anthony Hickey scored 20 and Andre Stringer 18. LSU had a consistent shooting night, making 56 percent in the first half and 55 percent in the second half. Phil Pressey led Mizzou with 25 points and five assists.
March 2 Schedule
Alabama at Florida, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Tennessee at Georgia , 12:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
LSU at Missouri, 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
Kentucky at Arkansas, 3 p.m. (CBS)
Ole Miss at Mississippi St., 4 p.m. (FSN)
South Carolina at Texas A&M, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Vanderbilt at Auburn, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
All Times Central
SEC Tournament (March 13-17) | Bracket (.pdf)
Against the Razorbacks on Wednesday, LSU shot well in the first half and opened up a 22-point advantage, but made just five field goals in the second half. The Tiger defense was just as stingy as Arkansas shot just 31 percent in the final 20 minutes.
Charles Carmouche had his second straight 20-point game with 26, while Hickey scored 10.
This is the first of two straight road games for LSU as the Tigers will travel to College Station, Texas on Wednesday to face Texas A&M, before closing out the regular season on March 9 at home against Ole Miss.
Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Thursday prior to the team's departure on Friday for the game and here are some of his comments:
HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening statement ...
"Obviously we're happy to get another win under our belt against a very tough Arkansas team last night. I'm really pleased with the way that the guys were able to finish the game and the way that we started the game. I thought those were two areas that really stood out for us last night, and the way that we started making shots, defending extremely well right there at the end, getting stops, making the necessary free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. On Saturday we're playing a tough Missouri basketball team, who has played extremely well at home. They have all their guys back, and we're looking forward to a tremendous challenge on Saturday afternoon against Missouri there."
On Missouri F Laurence Bowers becoming more integrated with the team ...
"Well, I think that the real key for them is that he will be back with them. I think probably, chemistry wise, they're better with him. He's probably gotten a little bit more integrated with their team, what they're doing and the speed of the game. I think it helps them."
On showing appreciation to the student section following home games (coach and team go hi-5 and shake hands after wins)...
"Well, I think after the Seton Hall game, if I'm not mistaken, the energy that the student section had helped extremely well. We wanted to show our appreciation and we went in there at that time. Since then, after victories we've been down on that end of the floor, and that's something that we look forward to."
On the team's attitude at this point in the season ...
"I think their approach and their mindset has been really good, and I think through their excitement with the way that they've played, it's allowed them to put themselves in this position. I think that they've really enjoyed the success that they've had, and I think they have a keen understanding of what they had to get there. I don't see any let up at all in them. I think they're really excited about playing, the preparation and everything that goes into it. They look forward to challenges."
On turning it over last night against Arkansas ...
"They're forcing people to turn it over anywhere from 17 to 19 times a game. We just happened to fall into their average last night. You have to credit them. They create that type of chaos. They did a great job, and we weren't as sharp as we possibly needed to be, like we were in the first half. They threw some of it at us in the first half, and we handled it extremely well. I thought in the second half we weren't as sharp as we needed to be in handling their press defense, but at the end we were able to make some plays. I thought it was a little bit of us but a lot of them."
On Charles Carmouche picking up his play ...
"It's been good. I think what happens is, some of the things that go unnoticed, we battle through injuries. Guys are generally hurt. Sometimes we have to try and cut guys' practice time back. Then, we don't want to put as much pressure on them in some games, and we want to use them in spots that we can. He went through a rash of injuries where he was a little banged up, and we had to try to cut back his practice time. We tried to cut back into his game time as well. That's kind of when that transition period really happened for him. So, he's a little healthier now than he was before."
On this being Charles Carmouche's last season (his only year at LSU) ...
"Well, I think he understands that this is it for him, and he only has the regular season, the conference tournament and the hopeful whatever post season that we may have. It's important that he takes advantage of every second, every play in his preparation and getting ready for that. The most important thing that he understands is that it's about his team and what we need to do to get better. I think he understands that when he's at his best or doing the things that he can do best that we have a much better chance of succeeding as well. It's not ever about holding back. I think guys play with a little bit of an edge to them, especially seniors. I think they understand how important it is. A lot of times your seniors are the ones that are able to give you that extra. At the same time, we have to make sure that he's available, and that he will be able to do that at a high level. So, it's up to us to probably guard him against that. Some guys want to get out there just to have their presence out there, and they can't do it at a certain level, you can get yourself hurt at this level of play because guys are just too good for you to go in there and not be at your best."
On Charles Carmouche's defense ...
"I actually knew from when I was at the University of North Texas. He was playing at UNO. He was one of the better defenders on their team at that time, and he's always been a very capable defender. He's always drawn tougher assignments since he's been here as well. Unfortunately for us, you have teams that have certain guys on there that are very capable, and you just have to pick and choose whom you're going to put where. We think we're pretty good on the defensive end of the floor. We think that we have guys that are very capable, but when you have guys that are great offensive scorers like (Jordan) McRae at Tennessee, they have the ability to get to certain areas on the floor and because of their size and length can get up over you. Shoot, we had Drew (Del Piero) switched out on him, and one time, Drew is 7'3", he shot it over him. Then, we had (Andre) Stringer on him. So, we threw a lot of things on him, and he was just able to make plays that night. (Charles) Carmouche has always drawn tougher defensive assignments for us this year."
On Missouri G Phil Pressey ...
"Well, with (Phil) Pressey I thought in the second half he kind of took over the game. He played extremely well, and when we had a lead he was the reason that they got back in it because of some of the plays that he made. As a player, when you have a guy that is that explosive, the only thing you want to do is try to contain him. You know he's going to score and going to make big plays. You just have to do a great job of trying to limit him to some of the things that he's doing."
On Missouri G Phil Pressey's ability to make plays ...
"I think he's a great point guard. I think he does an excellent job. I think he's a really good decision maker. I think anytime you're put in a position like that and the burden that you really have an opportunity to carry your team, you have to sometimes step up and make plays. I think he's one of those guys that look at it that way. He wants to make plays for his team, and unfortunately sometimes people will criticize you for it. I think he's probably won more games, and put them in better positions to win because of his ability to do things that he does in a game."
On facing Missouri on Saturday ...
"I think it's just like us and it's really easy for our basketball team. We knew where we were at the beginning of the year, how we played and we understand where we are in this phase. Now people are playing with a sense of urgency, and they understand that this team, Missouri, will be playing that way, and we need to play that way. We know that they've improved. They're a much-improved team than the night that we had an opportunity to play them here, and we are as well. So, it will be a great challenge for us, and our guys understand that."
On Charles Carmouche expressing his expectations are not to fall short of the NCAA Tournament ...
"Well, I think when you look late into our game against Arkansas, a lot of the buzz was that they were coming in here and they were still a team that had aspirations to be a NCAA tournament team. They were sitting here with an 8-6 record, and we were sitting there at 7-7. So, we were only one game different than they were, and we beat Missouri when they were top 20 or whatever. So, I think our guys look at things like that and read into it. If they were talking about them, what is it that we have to do to get somebody mentioning us about that? They understand that their play will have to speak for itself, and that's the only thing that they can do. When we started practice in October that was all those guys' dreams, coaches and everybody else, postseason play and the NCAA tournament. You understand March Madness and all those things, and that's what you want to play too. So, I don't think these guys are going to let anybody determine it. They're going to do the best that they can, be it the regular season or the conference tournament, and try to position themselves as best as they can. They're hopeful that they can sit there and be watching just like everybody else on Selection Sunday. Hopefully, some great things will happen for them."
On Anthony Hickey's ball handling abilities ...
"Anthony (Hickey) has really good ball handling skills. Because of his quickness and his ability to get to certain areas of the floor, he can get himself in trouble a little bit at times, and because of his athletic ability and his quickness, he can generally get out of it. Sometimes you're playing teams that have guys that are like him. South Carolina is one of those teams. Missouri is one of those teams that can get you. He had several turnovers in a couple of those games, but I think through it all he has really improved, from the beginning of the season until now, with his decision making, understanding what we're looking for and how to really get his teammates involved. So, I think he has really grown in that area."
On being able to play through your offense being broken down by the opposition ...
"The thing that we like to do with our players, yes we've implemented a system where we've put in plays, but when you go around this league with great coaches. They do a tremendous job in terms of scouting and understanding what you're going to run. So, we've been through over half of the conference play. You only three games left. People have a tendency, know what you're tendencies are and know what you're going to run. They understand what they need to do to try to take you out of those things. So, what's important for us is it's not just about teaching our guys our plays, but teaching them how to play and understanding when things do break down what it is that we have to do. People are going to take you out of your offense. They're physical enough. Sometimes they're defensive can dominate your offense and you have to get it. That's when guys have to understand spacing, rotating, when you're hitting gaps if a defensive player should rotate and where offensive guys should be. So, that's going to be your outlet, and that's where we are right now. When you see Anthony (Hickey) do that, it's not that he's just kind of going on his own. We understand that a play is broken, and we're trying to make a play and hit a gap. Those guys on the floor have to rotate and be in the right spots as well when the defense comes over and help. He's very capable of doing that because of his quickness. He can force help and get the defense a pass behind, and that helps us. A few plays that (Charles) Carmouche had last night were broken plays where people tried to rotate and help. We got in gaps, made pitch plays and he was able to knock down shots."
On whether he holds his breath when Anthony Hickey freelances on the court ...
"Good point guards are very capable. You watch the NBA, and a lot of times those guys get run out of sets. I'll tell you one of the guys that was best at it was Steve Nash. He would get inside of the defense, keep his dribble going and as soon as he saw that opening he would make that play. When you're comfortable with guys out there, and there is a certain comfort level, some good things are going to happen for you."
On Anthony Hickey progressing throughout the season and becoming a team leader ...
"Well, I think just on and off the floor he's gotten better. He's a little bit more vocal with guys. I think he's grown on and off the floor, which is really big for him. I think his teammates realize and see that because of his actions, what he's doing, where he's at and the time management that he deals with now. He's probably put himself in a position where he's more disciplined now in terms of his actions and what he's doing, which has really helped and benefitted him. I think he's seen the benefits of being able to do those things and how he's been rewarded because of it."