Jones Previews Texas A&M Basketball Game

LSU head coach Johnny Jones (center)
LSU head coach Johnny Jones (center)
Steve Franz
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE - LSU men's basketball coach Johnny Jones sat down with the local media here on Monday to discuss his team's 89-76 loss at Missouri on Saturday and the team's upcoming trip to College Station on Wednesday night against Texas A&M.

The game is set for 7 p.m. at Reed Arena and will be carried on the affiliates of the SEC Network (TV) and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU is 17-10 on the year and 8-8 in the league, tied presently for eighth with Georgia. The Bulldogs have the tiebreaker over LSU if the two end up in a two-way tie. LSU is one game ahead of Vanderbilt and Texas A&M (17-12), both tied for 10th at 7-9 in the league.

LSU defeated Texas A&M, 58-54, earlier in the year.

Here are some of comments of Coach Jones, who will host his final Tipoff Luncheon presented by Hub International on Thursday, from today's media session:

Opening statement ...
"We're coming off of a tough setback. Like we've done all year long, we've had an opportunity to look back and evaluate some areas. Although things didn't turn out the way that we would have liked for them to, we felt like we had an opportunity to grow in the Missouri game. It was a tough environment, but I thought our guys did an excellent job of staying between the lines. They stayed extremely focused there being able to get a lead on a really tough team in a great environment. They've won 15 straight home games this year and only lost a couple over the last three years. We felt like we did some great things in that game. I thought Missouri played extremely well down the stretch. We have two great games coming up this week that certainly will be a challenge for us. Texas A&M is coming off a very convincing win against South Carolina and has had some tough games leading up to that point. Then, we're finishing up with Ole Miss here on Saturday."

On playing a game following a setback ...
"I think guys have done a tremendous job. Even when we've won, they've been able to take that experience, learn from it and put it behind us. Our approach has always been our next opponent, and that's where our focus is going. I'm hopeful that we're able to do that especially after playing a challenging game there at Missouri. That's going to be important for us especially another road trip like this where this team has been extremely competitive at home all year long and been in some close games like A&M has. The setbacks that they've had have been extremely close so our focus will have to be good. I think that's the key for us being able to learn from the experiences and preparation and getting ready for the next opponent."

On focusing on the next game ...
"Well, it's just important that we go in and play well. One, we've got two regular season games left. The most important game on our schedule right now is Texas A&M, and that will be our focus. We need to really go in there and play extremely well. I'm sure that they have their reasons to be motivated as well in this basketball game. So, they're all tough. I'm sure every game that we play now will lead to something that's has more weight on it especially with the conference tournament coming up."

On Johnny O'Bryant's III progression ...
"Johnny's always been a tremendous young man to really be around. I think he's really continued to grow. On the floor, I think his willingness to understand how important it was that he becomes an even better block player, back to the basket and taking the ball to the rim to create more opportunities for us. A higher field goal percentage shooting for him would make us a better basketball team. Those are areas that he's really improved in, and he's continued to focus in along with his passing and sharing the basketball as well. So, I think he's really (improved in) not just one area. I think he's really improved in several areas on the offensive end of the floor to become more of a threat for us to give us an opportunity to be successful."

On the optimal position for the team in the conference tournament ...
"You're trying not to put yourself in position where you're playing on that first night. That's starters. Then, put yourself in position that if it becomes a three or four day tournament for you that you've got to be conditioned, focused enough and driven enough to make some things happen. I think the good thing for us is we just came off a three games in six-day stretch, which were quick prep days for us. I think that's helped us in preparation. But right now, you're going to have to play somebody good in the tournament. Everyone understands that they don't want that to be their last game and they don't want the season to end. So, I think everyone will be playing with a sense of urgency regardless of who that is. Obviously, Florida is a team that is ranked and leading our league right now. They will have something on the line because they'll be playing for seeding in the NCAA Tournament. If you're playing somebody lower, they could be playing to extend their season, trying to survive and playing to get in some type of postseason play. So, it's going to be a challenge any game that you play in. We would just like to finish as high as we possibly can for regular conference play and preparation for the conference tournament."

On preference of tournament schedule ...
"Sometimes when you are where we are right now, that really doesn't matter. You're going to get you some rest time, and then you're going to have to turn around. It's going to be tough. It's just going to be about managing your time, and your practice time. Because we don't have a whole lot of bodies that we're playing in our rotation, regardless of when it is, it's going to be tough for us. I think mentally you have to go into it the right way understanding that's part of the challenge."

On the approach heading into the conference tournament ...
"I think anytime you get into tournament play, anything can happen. Look back just a few years you had a team playing with a sense of urgency and their back to the wall in Georgia. They were towards the bottom of the league and wound up winning the tournament probably against all odds having to play such a quick turnaround. So, this time of year anything can happen. You just catch a hot team playing well at the right time, and you just hope that you're that team."

On playing at a hostile environment on the road ...
"I think once these guys got through the Kentucky game with some 25,000 people there. I think that was a tremendous atmosphere there for us, and Missouri was the same way. I think it was most of them, or all of their first time having an opportunity to play in that type of environment as well. I thought they did extremely well in both. Our focus is always playing between the lines, inside the 94-by-50. That's what we're driven towards. So, I don't really make it any big deal of the venue that we're going into. Our focus has to really be in those guys that are out there in that different color jersey that we're going against."

On what makes them such a good team on the road ...
"I think it may be because we don't make a huge deal about where we're going. It's about our opponent and our preparation. I think they're guys that play with a little bit of edge about them, and they've been able to do that in our games this year. You have to really credit them because of the way that they've been able to focus in games and the importance that they play with. I would say the focus that they've been able to play with has really helped us and given us chances in games."

On what has been the factor defensively in the team's last two road games ...
"I think really good offense. You talk about (Jordan) McRae at Tennessee. Then, at Missouri the other day, you had a combination of guys able to make plays. You try to take the guard play away and trap (Phil) Pressey. He would come off and make excellent passes. Guys did an excellent job of finishing at the rim. You'd try to check him, and they'd take shots. Because of you're rotation, you'd open up some rebounding lanes that they were able to get their hands on and some put backs as well. Primarily, (Alex) Oriakhi was able to make those plays. Then (Laurence) Bowers, you try to zone him and force him up a little bit. He's catching the ball at the free throw line and just turning down and making shots. So, in that game with everybody, I think they were clicking on all cylinders there in the second half which made it tough for us. We shot a decent enough percentage, shot well enough from the three-point line and made our free throws. Normally, you can get those games. But I think that's reason they're the way they are and the way they play at home."

On the secret to containing Texas A&M's Elston Turner in the first meeting ...
"I can't tell you. We have to go play them again. No, I think he had just a tough shooting night here. You just look for him that he will definitely come out looking to shoot and make some shots in this game on Wednesday. He's their leader, and a tough scorer. Just as great shooters, sometimes, you have those tough nights. Our deal is to hope that we can contain him, slow him up a little bit and be hopeful as a team that they don't shoot the ball as well. They've done a good job of shooting it at home."

On Charles Carmouche responding after being sat in the Tennessee game ...
"Well, I think our team was already kind of on par with the messages that had been sent early on through (Anthony) Hickey. I think he's done a tremendous job of responding extremely well. Being a senior, he's making sure that he values the time that he has on the floor. In practices, he understands that this is his senior year. He wants to make sure that he makes the most of each of those opportunities because at some point it will be over. I think he's done a tremendous job of really focusing in and concentrating on the things that he really has control over. He's done a great job of doing that."

On Charles Carmouche playing hard on the defensive end of the floor ...
"It's a rarity because a lot of times guys try to save themselves especially on the defensive end of the floor. They don't want to work as hard. They don't want to get tired because they want to try to use their energy as much as they possibly can on the offensive end. They have a tendency to rest. Sometimes, guys subconsciously think that if they're doing enough on the offensive end that it will cover them defensively. They think they're going to be in the game anyways. I think it's exceptional that he's been able to do that and has taken pride in it."

On the team playing hard on both ends of the floor ...
"Absolutely, I think even on this team you'll find guys. (Andre) Stringer is primarily a scorer. He's looked upon that way, but the type of effort that he gives you when he's on the floor he gives you great effort defensively. (Anthony) Hickey is the same way. He's able to score the basketball for us, but he gives us tremendous effort. Johnny (O'Bryant III) has really improved as a post defender for us this year, and he's sitting there leading us in scoring. So, I think the team has done a good job of playing on both ends of the floor."




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