BATON ROUGE - The LSU Tigers look to finish the regular season on a high note when they face the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday afternoon at 12:30 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The last game of the season will mark the first meeting of the year with the Rebels and the first time the teams have not played twice in a season since 1945 when because of World War II they did not meet. LSU is 18-10 and 9-8 and assured of the first non-losing season in the SEC since 2009 and just the seventh in the last 20 years.
Ole Miss enters the contest at 22-8 and 11-6 and one of four teams looking for three spots remaining for the double bye to the quarterfinals in next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville. Ole Miss, Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky are all tied for second behind league champion Florida and in the right set of circumstances, five teams adding Tennessee could be tied looking for the three remaining double byes.
LSU needs a win and a Georgia loss at Alabama to clinch the seventh seed in next week's tournament. Any other circumstances would results in LSU being in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game that opens the second day of the tournament next Thursday.
Saturday's game is Senior Day with ceremonies scheduled to begin at approximately 12:25 p.m. Walk-on Mychal Williams, who is a senior academically, will be joined by the trio of Charles Carmouche from New Orleans; Andrew Del Piero of Austin, Texas; and, Eddie Ludwig of Metairie to play their final regular season home game. Ludwig, who has been out since the second weekend of January after a blow to the head in practice, will take part in the ceremonies but will not play.
March 9 Schedule
Florida at Kentucky, 11 a.m. (CBS)
South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 12:30 p.m. (SEC Net.)
Ole Miss at LSU, 12:30 p.m. (SEC Net.)
Texas A&M at Arkansas, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
Georgia at Alabama, 3 p.m. (SEC Net.)
Missouri at Tennessee, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Auburn at Mississippi St., 4:30 p.m. (FSN)
All Times Central
SEC Tournament (March 13-17) | Bracket (.pdf)
The game will be televised by the SEC Network (Louisiana affiliates: Alexandra - KLAX-DT2; Baton Rouge - WAFB; Lafayette - KADN; Monroe - KARD; New Orleans - WUPL; Shreveport - KMSS). The radio broadcast will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM) and in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Tickets are available at www.LSUtix.net and at the upper concourse of the Maravich Center beginning at 11:30 a.m. Those with baseball tickets for Saturday night's LSU-Washington baseball game can show their ticket and get a basketball ticket for just $5. LSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID.
LSU is coming off a 68-57 win at Texas A&M that gave LSU a season sweep of the Aggies and a 7-3 record in the games against teams it played twice. LSU has won 9-of-13 league games after starting the SEC race 0-4. In the A&M game, Johnny O'Bryant III had his league leading 13th double double and Charles Carmouche had his fourth straight game of 20 points or more, the first time an LSU player had scored 20 in four straight since 2009.
Ole Miss comes in after an 87-83 win over Alabama in Oxford. Marshall Henderson leads the Rebels averaging 19.6 points per game, while Murphy Holloway (who has 12 double doubles) averages 14.6 points per game and 9.6 rebounds.
The Tigers are expected to go with the same lineup as recent games with Carmouche (10.9), Andre Stringer (10.1) and Anthony Hickey (11.8 ppg) at guards with JOB III at forward (13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Andrew Del Piero at center (4.4 ppg).
LSU basketball can be found on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUbasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.
Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Thursday afternoon and here are some of the comments from the media session:
Opening statement ...
"I was really excited to see our guys bounce back the way they did after a tough setback there at Missouri on Saturday. It was senior night for (Texas A&M). For our guys to come back and play the way that they did in a really good environment with a team that was really geared up to play and, coming off of a good win against a South Carolina team, I thought our guys did an excellent job of really matching, or exceeding the intensity level there in the first half, then playing well enough in the second half to make the plays necessary down the stretch to get out of there with a good victory. We look forward to a great challenge here on Saturday. It's senior night for us. There's obviously a lot riding on the line for Ole Miss. They're thinking about the NCAA, and they have aspirations in terms of still putting themselves in position to get a bid if they don't wind up winning the conference tournament. It's a huge game for us. Obviously, we're sitting there trying to position ourselves as best as we can for the conference tournament and hopeful to make some type of postseason play as well."
On defending a player like Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss ...
"I think just the intensity level has to be there all the time. You just can't have any down time. We refer to playing every second, every play all the time. I think when you talk about guarding or defending someone like him, that's ideally the way that you have to play. He just has no limitations on what he will do or where he will do it from, so you have to really guard against that."
Comparing Texas A&M's Elston Turner with Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson ...
"Well, they're two different types of players. Off the bounce a lot of times Elston (Turner), because his size and the strength that he has, can take you inside, generally post you or get you out on the perimeter and effortlessly shoot the three behind screens. At the same time he can get you going off the bounce, pull back and take shots. Marshall (Henderson) does an excellent job of running off of screens and getting open. He's a good catch and shoot guy. He has the ability to put it on the floor as well, but he probably is a lot quicker than Elston Turner getting off of screens in the way that he moves. You have to try to catch up with him all the time."
On Ole Miss' big men Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner ...
"I think they're really good. I think they complement each other really well, because they're some of the guys that primarily set screens for (Marshall Henderson). When you come off of it, normally you try to hedge with your post guys and stop guys from catching it in their comfort zone. Anytime those guys get open you can throw that thing back in there to them, and they're very capable of finishing. They are physical inside, and they're very capable scorers in there. I think they're their second and third leading scorers, if I'm not mistaken. That puts a lot of pressure on you inside, and then knowing that you have an outside threat like that."
On whether the game Saturday against Ole Miss could get "chippy" ...
"I think all of them are chippy. I think everybody should be playing kind of on the edge every game, because that's just the nature of the conference. Regardless of where you are, you're obviously playing for victory. They're just like we are right now. It's the last game of the regular season, and everybody should be playing a little bit on edge in a sense and trying to be at their best."
On his first thoughts of Andrew Del Piero after becoming head coach ...
"I knew that he was here and I was very familiar with him, not too much in detail because of the impact, or lack thereof, that he had on the program. After arriving and knowing the graduation of Malcolm White, Storm Warren and the early draft entry with Justin Hamilton as well, we knew that we were going to be somewhat limited inside. I was hopeful that through Andrew Del Piero, at least in practice, he would give us some type of presence that would help Johnny (O'Bryant) with his constant improvement. We were just limited on numbers. Then, when you look at trying to find out who's available to walk on or try out, and nobody of that type of size is out there. So, you're just hoping that he can help in that way. He's far exceeded where I thought he would possibly be at this point. He continues to improve. Even last night he made some big baskets in traffic, knocked down free throws in that type of environment and played in front of his family. So, I can tell you that he's far exceeded my expectations."
On how he thinks Andrew Del Piero would be had he played high school basketball all four years ...
"I'd have to believe that he'd be so much farther along if he had, in fact, taken the time and put the time and energy that it really takes for someone to succeed at that level. Sometime you have guys like that. They're late developers, because of coordination and all of those things. Sometimes guys have a tendency of getting frustrated, but you have to give him credit. He had a love and passion for something that he was doing, and that's where he put his time and energy. Had that been in basketball, I think that the time that he put in, prepared and what he was doing with the tuba, he could be so much further along. That takes someone really taking a keen interest in him as well to get him there."
On guys (like Eddie Ludwig) having career-threatening injuries that you've been around in your career...
"Yeah, even at North Texas, and it was unfortunately the same thing. You have those kinds of instances where unfortunately injuries put guys in situations where they can no longer really compete at that level. You really feel sad in a sense because you know that's something that they have a passion for, and you want to see them live out their dream or at least have an opportunity to compete and do the things that they really enjoy doing. When that's taken away from you it's tough. What we do know about Eddie (Ludwig) and his background, his foundation, is that he's going to be fine. The basketball part of it may not be there, but he's going to be very successful in whatever he tries to do after he finishes up with school."
On whether concussions are a new area of concern for the game of basketball ...
"I think more noticeable. I don't think it's a new part. I think guys have been getting hit in the head for a long time, but I think it's guarded so much more heavily now than ever before through the sport of football and all the things that have happened, all the concern and all the information that they have out there with concussions and the effects of it if you're not careful. I think it has people a lot more cautious than they were before. I think it's a lot more prevalent now, that when guys have it they're sat out a lot longer. It happened to us last year (at North Texas). One of our top players actually went through the same thing. He actually got hit again this year, and he had to shut it down at North Texas and is no longer playing. A kid by the name of Jacob Holmen."
On Eddie Ludwig's injury ...
"Well, he's still a part of our family and what we're doing. He's just, unfortunately, no longer is able to participate and be on the floor, but it's important that we know exactly how he's doing in terms of his health and getting better academically. I think when you have those types of setbacks it lingers and sometimes affects you academically, because light, studying, reading, all of those kinds of things affect you watching tape or whatever. It really affects your ability to do that, so you have to really monitor that as well. So, we definitely have daily dialogue and checkups and know exactly what's going on with him."
On Charles Carmouche choosing to play as a fifth year senior at LSU ...
"I think one of the reasons he chose this place is what he knows about the area. He's very familiar with LSU, and he was hopeful to make an impact on the program. It's his last season. I think when you're dealing with seniors there's always somewhat of a sense of urgency that they have the ability to play with, especially when you start talking about fifth year guys. They're more mature, older and they have a better understanding of it. The good thing about him is he was in a program down there at UNO where he understood that side of it. Going to Memphis, they may have gone to the NIT one year, then the NCAA Tournament the next that he was there, and he didn't play this past year when they went to the tournament, but I think the experience that he had there will lend you to believe that he understands the sense of urgency to come in here and play. Those guys see the light at the end of the tunnel, and they know that at some point their college career is going to be over. It's important that they maximize and get the most out of that experience. We've had those talks."
On what impressed him most about Charles Carmouche's performance last night ...
"Probably defensively, because that part he last night he does a lot in practice. Sometimes if he's not starting the game he's usually on the team we're doing the scouts with. Generally he's the scorer, or somebody that supposedly we're going to try to shut down, we have to defend. We know that he has that type of ability to make plays. I think defensively to go at (Elston) Turner and have to defend him, granted it was a team effort on Turner, but for it to be senior night and knowing the guy is going to come in there and give everything he's got offensively, what he's known for. For him to go 4-14 and for our guys to hawk him like they did, I think speaks volumes about (Charles) Carmouche and his commitment to trying to get him stopped last night."
On his and Charles Carmouche's relationship ...
"Actually when he was leaving New Orleans and I was at North Texas we recruited him because they had dropped down from Division-1. He came up and took an official visit. I always had a liking for him, and I thought that he would really be able to help our program there at North Texas. So, when this happened, when we became aware that he was maybe available, or trying to get close to home, through them getting the release they reached out to us. It was something that pursued because I knew that he would probably be a good fit for us here, and he was someone that I knew his background. When (Ralston) Turner left here that spot became available, and I thought that would be a good fill-in or somebody to possibly take that spot and give us a boost."
On Charles Carmouche's other options for playing as a fifth year senior...
"They weren't close to home. His old college coach at UNO is at Arizona now as an assistant. Then, there are some other schools in the east, maybe Dayton or somewhere else were possibilities for him. Possibly even A&M because a guy that's on that staff is from New Orleans as well, so they knew of him."
On whether Coach Jones remembers his senior night at LSU ...
"Absolutely. I have great memories of my senior night. I remember they brought us in a limo through the tunnel. It was about four or five us on that team. I think one of the guys maybe had left the program by that time, so I think it was four of us, me, John Tudor, Leonard Mitchell, and Brian Kistler. They brought us into that tunnel and brought the car right up to the floor. They started calling the starting line-up out and we started getting out of the car one by one. As a matter of fact, Mike the Tiger was a senior as well, and he was in the car. So, he came out first. They had the big sheets of paper, I don't know if they do it anymore, but they'd have your picture on a poster and you'd run through it when they called your name out. I was excited and ran through that poster. When I hit it the poster broke open, and a piece of the paper landed on the floor. So, when I made my turn to come back out of it to pump my fist to the crowd my feet came out from under me, because I had stepped on it. I opened my left wrist when I hit the floor, so I played injured that night, and it was against Florida. I had a steal at the end of the game. It was a one-point ball game. We were up, and Florida still had the ball. I was able to get a steal there at the end. I picked it off. We were sitting in a two-three zone. Great memory. I shot a layup right there at the end, and we wound up clinching the game as time ran out. So, yes I remember my senior night. I still have the tape. I've got it on VHS, and it has Jim Hawthorne's call. I remember at the end he said, 'The game is over!'. "