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LSU head coach Johnny Jones
Photo by:Associated Press
Jones Previews Basketball Trip to Alabama
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Published: January 23, 2014, 04:52 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers returned to practice Thursday looking to continue the momentum of two straight home victories over Vanderbilt and Missouri.

The Tigers and the Crimson Tide do battle in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Dave Lamont and Darrin Horn will have the call. Jim Hawthorne and Jim Hawthorne with studio host Kevin Ford will have the radio broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Tigers are 12-5 overall and 3-2 in the SEC, while Alabama (8-9, 2-2) played Thursday night at home against nationally-ranked Florida.

LSU defeated Missouri, 77-71, on Tuesday, rallying from four down in the second half to get the win. LSU trailed by one with 3:21 to play and made 7-of-9 free throws down the stretch to get the win. Senior Shavon Coleman had 19 points to lead LSU, while Johnny O’Bryant III had 16 points and Jordan Mickey had his fifth double double of the year with 14 points and a season high equaling 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. Andre Stringer also had 12 points.

LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones met with the media Thursday afternoon prior to the team’s return to practice. Here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“We’re looking forward to getting back out on the road after a two game home stand against a good Vanderbilt team and a very good Missouri team. We’re looking forward to playing a very tough Alabama team who has been very good at home and have probably played one of the most difficult schedules in our conference and in preparation for conference play. It will be a great challenge for us on Saturday on the road before returning home to play one of the top teams in the country in Kentucky on Tuesday.”

On Alabama playing teams tough…
“I think they’ve done a tremendous job in having the caliber players and the makeup of a team that’s capable of challenging you year in and year out. You can go back for years and list the guards that they’ve had. They’ve had post players over the years that have always competed really well in our league. They were notorious for winning the conference tournament for years because of the depth of the team they’ve had.”

On Andre Stringer and Jarell Martin handling playing from the bench…
“I think the really good part of our basketball team is that these guys are so caught up in winning. They’re not ‘me’ guys; they’re ‘team’ guys. That’s what has allowed this team to have success early on be it Johnny O’Bryant III or the way Anthony Hickey has handled coming off the bench when he wasn’t starting at the beginning of the year. When you ask these guys to do certain things, it’s about winning for them.”

On being at a heightened toughness level…
“I think it’s certainly a process. We have improved and gotten better. I think we’ve had an opportunity to pay more attention to it. We’re heading in the right direction, and I think they understand that. I think it’s important to have the ability to play with a sense of urgency all the time. I think because of their awareness, that’s something that we will have to continue to work on and hope that it becomes a habit for us.”

On if playing at home the last few games has helped his team…
“I felt that we played well on the road in a very tough environment in Oxford, Miss. I thought we played well at South Carolina, a game that we won there. I think the growth of the team has been gradual. They’ve been tested. I think they’ve shown great signs of improvements.”

On what needs to happen for his team to win on the road…
“I think we’ve been able to get stops and rebound. We’ve done a much better job in the last two games rebounding the basketball, getting stops late and at the same time being able to execute and make plays on the offensive end. I think we’ve found a sense of toughness and executed well at the free-throw line. We were able to do that the other night at home when Missouri made their run late in the game.”

On what his team has done defensively to make stops late in the game…
“Playing defense is not always about being one-on-one with someone. A lot of time, it is how you rotate and helping defensively. The biggest deal is your trust factor with your teammates to be able to carry out your duties. I think it’s more of being able to trust your teammates, making sure that you’re doing what you’re supposed to and rotating. It’s not a one-on-one game; it’s five-on-five.”

On Tim Quarterman’s improved defensive abilities…
“It’s a different level. High school guys will come in and they haven’t grinded out defensively because they are the star of their basketball team. The last thing they want to do is get in foul trouble and not be available for their team. Therefore, they’re not as aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. At this level, if you don’t defend, you will get exposed. People will go at you. You want to be as fundamentally sound as possible and put yourself in the best possible position. To give your team a chance, you have to be sound enough to defend. That’s a part of it here. Because if you don’t defend well, I don’t care who you are, from one (guard) to five (center), you can’t be out there trying to save yourself and giving up baskets for the sake of staying in the game.”

On Alabama’s defensive strategy…
“They’ll mix it up. They’ll pick you up full court. They’re very quick, fast and strong. They’ve got two guys who are leaders in steals. They’re very aggressive in the full-court trapping area and in the half court, shooting the gaps and lanes. They’ve done a tremendous job. They’ll play zone; they’ll play man. They’ll mix it up defensively as well.”

On Tim Quarterman and Anthony Hickey’s relationship in practice…
“I think it’s like what it should be. In practice, they are very competitive. They go at each other. I think anytime you push each other, you get better. Our deal is we always want to make sure we are challenging each other hard enough in practice so hopefully the game will be easier for us. Guys don’t take plays off in practice. For Hickey to get better, Tim has got to go at him. For Tim to get better, Hickey has to go at him. I think they’ve been able to do that. That’s one of the areas I think Tim has gotten better, defensively, because Tim wasn’t that type of defender in high school. He’s gotten better since he’s been here because of what he’s had to do in practice against a guard the caliber of Anthony Hickey.”

On defending Trevor Releford…
“You just have to pay a lot of attention to him. He’s a great basketball player, and he’s proven that time and time again and each time we’ve played him. He’s one of the top guards in our conference. You certainly have to put a lot of time and energy into him.”

On playing at Coleman Coliseum…
“It’s another tough road game in the SEC. That’s how I look at it. That’s been one of the places where they’ve gone on long stretches without having success on someone else’s floor. I don’t think there’s anything different than some of the tough venues we play at in this conference.”

On carrying momentum from recent victories…
“I think our last two games have really helped us, from the Vanderbilt game to the Missouri game. That certainly helped us. I’m hopeful that it’s given our team confidence, especially with what we about to embark upon in these next few games.”

 

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