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LSU lost for the first time in seven games
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Men's Basketball Falls to Rhode Island, 74-70
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Published: January 04, 2014, 08:16 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – An aggressive University of Rhode Island team took control of the game late in the first half and expanded their control early in the second half then constantly withstood every LSU rally to walk away with a 74-70 victory Saturday night at the Maravich Center.

The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Tigers who will now enter SEC play at 9-3. Rhode Island wins for the second time in three days and third time in the last four games and is now 9-6.

The Rams were led in scoring by E.C. Matthews with 21 points, making 6-of-12 field goals including two treys and 7-of-9 free throws. Gilvydas Biruta hit eight field goals and two treys in scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, while Xavier Munford had 17 points.

The Tigers got a 10-of-15 shooting night from Jordan Mickey who had 21 points. Andre Stringer had 13 points, 7 assists and five steals and Johnny O’Bryant III posted 11.

LSU was handled on the boards, 46-32, including a 16-11 advantage on the offensive boards. O’Bryant III had just three rebounds, Martin two and Mickey four, as LSU’s two starting guards were the leading rebounders – Stringer with 6 and Hickey with 5.

LSU found itself down six at the half, 36-30, after Rhode Island used a 13-0 run to move into a seven-point advantage with 6:23 to play. LSU would tie the game later in the half, before the Rams moved back shortly before the intermission.

In the second half, URI moved to a 12-point lead, 43-31 and 45-33, at the 15:55 mark before the Tigers press began to have a big effect. LSU slowly and gradually began to move back, taking a 54-51 lead on a Hickey layup with 9:39 left. It would last just 17 seconds as Munford hit a trey to tie the game at 54.

URI continued to put itself in good situations, opening up eight-point leads at the 4:42 and 4:14 mark before LSU tried to make one final run.

Two free throws by Stringer with 1:56 left cut the game to three, 71-68. Rhode Island turned the ball over in the press and after a missed jumper by Hickey, O’Bryant III laid the ball in to make it 71-70 Rhode Island with 1:24 left.

Then came a series of frustrations to compound the night for LSU. The press forced another URI turnover only to have JOB III turn it back the other way. URI missed two layups, the last on a block by Mickey. That led to a miss by Hickey who went coast-to-coast with the rebound off the block with 33 seconds to play.

The officials ruled the ball belonged to LSU, but used the new rule to check the call on the monitor late in the game. The ball actually was knocked out by LSU and belonged to Rhode Island. LSU almost got a 10-second call but URI called time out before the count hit 10. LSU then fouled and Munford made one free throw.

LSU got the ball and moved to the frontcourt calling timeout with less than 12 seconds left. The inbounds was made to the backcourt to Hickey who dribbled into the front court, took a screen and shot a 22-footer with about seven seconds left that Matthews eventually corralled for the Rams. He was fouled and made two free throws for the final margin.

LSU forced 22 turnovers in the game and got 24 points off those turnovers, but URI also did well getting 15 points off the 12 Tiger turnovers. LSU had 19 steals, tied for the fourth most steals in school history.

The Tigers now have little time to worry about the game as they must turn around quickly as in early Sunday afternoon practice as they host Tennessee Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN in the first of 18 Southeastern Conference games. Tickets are available at LSUtix.net.

Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.

LSU vs Rhode Island
January 4, 2014

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening Statement…
“First off, we have to make sure that we give credit to Rhode Island. They came in, and I thought played a very tough basketball game from tip to finish. I thought they stuck to their game plan in terms of taking the shots that they needed, making big plays, getting second-chance opportunities and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. They made a lot of tough plays and made a lot of hustle plays tonight. They really put themselves in a situation where I thought they played with a great sense of urgency tonight and wound up getting a victory. I thought we came out not as sharp as we needed to, continued to battle in the first half, but I thought in the first half we settled a little bit too much. We didn’t execute offensively like we needed to, and we did not make the tough plays in the first half, which allowed us to go in at halftime down  and losing the rebound war. I thought in the first 10 minutes of the second half our guys did an excellent job of battling back, getting back into the game, tying it and staying close. Rhode Island did more of the same. They made the tough plays, knocked down tough threes, played well inside, rebounded the basketball, and wound up getting out of here with a victory. We were unfortunately outplayed today, and we have to bounce back. We have a tough game on Tuesday.”

On the final play of the game…
“We had several options. We wanted to look for (Andre) Stringer coming off of the screen at the bottom. It wasn’t available. We wanted to try to find Johnny (O’Bryant III) inside on the post because he should’ve been down one-on-one if everyone else was covered. On that play, I thought that Johnny was possibly open. We didn’t make that play. We should’ve gone to the elbow next. We could’ve had a one-on-one from the elbow, but we didn’t get the ball there. We just failed to execute the play we needed, and Hickey got the ball, came off the screen and shot a three down by two. He possibly could’ve taken it to the basket, but there are some things we need to work on, clean up and certainly get better at.”

On starting out slow…
“I don’t think it’s as much as being flat. I think it’s more of Rhode Island executing and making plays early. They ran a lot of slip screens early and making plays. They went to the basket and I think their numbers indicate that. I thought from tip to finish they were more aggressive in knocking down shots. They made tough rebounds in the second half to will them to a win.”

On Johnny O'Bryant III not playing early in the second half…
“He wasn’t doing what we needed him to do in the first half. There were guys on our bench that were willing to do the things we needed them to do. I thought they showed it in the second half when we were able to make a run. We had the game tied and I thought those guys did a great job of competing. We’re hopeful that he can understand and get better at what we need him to do.”

On what Johnny O'Bryant wasn’t doing…
“We weren’t putting enough pressure on the basket. We have good post guys and we feel like he is big and strong enough to make the plays we needed. I thought he settled a little too much on the perimeter for jump shots. I think he is a much higher percentage shooter in the paint and he didn’t show it.”

On lack of rebounds in the first half…
“Both Jordan (Mickey) and Johnny lead our team in rebounding. We were both shooting around 50 percent so there were a lot of rebounds to be had. I think they did a great job of distracting Jordan away from the rim. When you are settling for jumpers though it makes it a little more difficult to get close to the basket to get rebounds.”

On making a late run…
“We were glad that our guys brought a great deal of energy in fighting back and putting us in a position. We are also really happy our fans got into the game because it gave our team a lot of energy. We had an opportunity late at the end but failed to execute. Even right at the end we had ample time to execute offensively and we couldn’t get a good shot up.”

POST GAME PLAYER QUOTES

G ANTHONY HICKEY

On his last shot of the ball game against Rhode Island…
“I think I could have taken up a little more time. Now the shot is already shot and the time is already expired. Now its about what I do now.”

On tonight’s loss to Rhode Island…
“It was tough. We just have to step up. It is going to be a bigger game Tuesday. We need to get people (the fans) back here Tuesday, and we will be alright.”

On his big steal in the last minute of the ball game…
“I was just competing, and I had a feel for the ball. They had been throwing to that side the whole time, so I kind of knew he was probably going to throw it over there. I baited him and went for it. My thing was to just get the ball.”

On moving on and preparing for Tennessee…
“We have to close out games and finish strong. We can’t come out flat like we did. If we come out flat we will get beat every time. It catches up with you at the end of the game. It is all about starting early and taking care of business early.”

F JORDAN MICKEY

On the problems LSU faced tonight against Rhode Island…
“It just comes down to lack of execution. We didn’t execute down the stretch like we needed to in order to win this game. That is basically what it boils down to. We just didn’t get stops like we needed to down the stretch. They kept coming down, and we were just trading baskets. We can’t have that. We have to get stops consistently in order to beat teams.”

On his big performance tonight against Rhode Island…
“My teammates have a lot of faith in me. They give me the ball and trust me to do what they want me to do. I just wanted to whatever I could to help my team win the game.”

RHODE ISLAND HEAD COACH DAN HURLEY

On this being the biggest win of his career at Rhode Island…
“Saint Louis last year, I thought was a great win, but they’re definitely our best out-of-conference win because they’re really good.  Obviously really talented, well coached, well rounded, with some veteran guards.  We just competed really, really hard.  You know, we obviously had a stretch where we struggled with the ball, but we had such great resolve today, and I think it’s the schedule that we’ve played to this point, going and playing at Arizona and at SMU and playing George Mason.  Some of the road tests we’ve had, quite honestly, prepared us for a team of this caliber.”

On the importance of this win…
“It’s great for our mindset going into league play.  We looked around the league to see who was playing who as a tune-up going into the league, and we took on a heck of a challenge as opposed to doing something else.  You hope with a young team that’s still getting accustomed to each other that this will be a confidence builder for them. Obviously you have to defend the conference champions coming in Tuesday. You hope this is good for our psyche.”

On the biggest difference in today’s game…
“I think we obviously rebounded. We were concerned. Our pre-game goal was to be plus one. We ended up being plus fourteen. If you go back and watch that last minute, they had chances to get tip-ins during some of those wild skirmishes. We had perimeter guys who were flying in and swatting the ball away. Our effort was just amazing today.”

RHODE ISLAND GUARD E.C. MATTHEWS

On this getting ready for this game…
“We knew it was a big game.  We kind of treated it like it was another game even though it was hard to.  We just stuck to the game plan.  Coach Hurley did a nice job of preparing us for this game.  We just went out there and played our hardest for him.”

On his confidence level going into league play…
“I think I get better and better each game.  I get more confidence.  Coach Hurley, he just lets us play so that gives me a lot of confidence so I just leave it all out on the floor.  I’m only a freshman so I just come out and play.  The worst they can say is ‘I’m a freshman’.”

On his last rebound at the end of the game…
“I think I had nine this game.  They’re real athletic so I just happened to jump up fast and grab the rebound and secured it.”

 

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