Duop Reath comes off a 14 pt-15 reb game Saturday vs. Arkansas
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tigers Meet Rebels Tuesday at The Pavilion

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

OXFORD, Miss. – The LSU basketball team arrived here late Monday afternoon and got their first look at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in a Monday night practice session.

The Tigers and Rebels will play on Tuesday night in the Pavilion at 8 p.m. in a game broadcasted by the “Voice of the Tigers” Chris Blair on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and at lsusports.net/live) and televised on the SEC Network with Mike Morgan and Dane Bradshaw on the call.

The Pavilion opened for SEC play in 2016, but LSU and Ole Miss met only once in Baton Rouge, This will be the only meeting between the teams in the regular season this year.

LSU is 9-15 overall and 1-11 in the SEC, while the Rebels of Andy Kennedy are now 15-10 and 5-6 in the league

Both teams had somewhat stunning reversals of fortune in their games on Saturday. LSU lead 33-19 and 40-31 at the half against Arkansas at the Maravich Center before Arkansas used a 24-6 run in the first seven minutes to turn the game to a nine-point advantage for the Razorbacks en route to a 78-70 win.

Ole Miss found themselves down, 47-27, at the half here on Saturday and scored 63 points in the second half to win , 90-84, with Terrence Davis scoring a career high 26 points, all in the second half. Cullen Neal added 20 points, 15 in the second half.

Both Antonio Blakeney and Duop Reath had double doubles for LSU with Blakeney getting his first since the start of his freshman season in Nov. 2015 with 21 points and 12 boards. For Blakeney it competed a week with 52 points scored in games at Kentucky (31) and versus Arkansas (21).

Reath had his sixth double up of the year with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Brandon Sampson added 12 points.

Those rebound totals were part of the reason that LSU out rebounded the Razorbacks, 50-30 in the game and 18-3 on the offensive boards, resulting in a 40-20 advantage in points in the paint and 21-5 on second chance points. But the Tigers turned the ball over 10 times in the second half and the Razorbacks shot 53 percent with seven treys to take control of the game.

This is the first of two games on the road for LSU as the Tigers also go to Alabama on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. game in Tuscaloosa.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media before the team departed Baton Rouge and here were some of his comments:

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening statement…
“We’re looking forward to heading to Oxford, Mississippi and playing the Ole Miss Rebels inside of their new venue. It’s certainly another challenge for us going back out on the road. It’s one that we look forward to and see if we can continue to build and put two really good halves of basketball together to give ourselves a chance to bring back victory here at home tomorrow night.”

On what he can take away from the first half against Arkansas…
“I thought we put together a good 20 minutes in the first half. I thought on offense we made the extra passes and executed at a certain level and I thought the guys were really aggressive in the manner in which we played. Defensively, I thought we were on point in terms of the scouting report and being where we needed to be. We were flying to the ball, doubling when we were supposed to, and rotating. Unfortunately in the second half as the game played out, shots weren’t falling like they did for us in the first half. We didn't have that rhythm, and unfortunately I think that led to some of our defensive breakdowns. Sometimes we rely on our offense to feed our defense and most times you want your defense to feed your offense. I think sometimes guys get out of tune a little bit when those things happen. We have to continue to grow and mature and not allow those type of stretches to effect us when things are not happening for us on the offensive end.”

On if he thought the team looked satisfied…
“Not necessarily complacent. I thought going into the first half they were a bit satisfied with the way that we had played and with the lead that we had at halftime. In coming back out I think you have to have even more of a sense of urgency. I thought we played good in the first half, but I thought the second half would require a great second half to finish it off because obviously their team is going to come out and they feel they have an uphill battle and they’re going to play a certain way. You can’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to match the other team’s effort, you have to exceed it. I didn't think we were able to do that with the way that they came out. I thought the effort gave them an opportunity to hit some shots and become a confident team in the second half. That's how the game ended up turning out.”

On why they players didn't come out better in the second half…
“Generally it's the first half where we’ve had issues. Then the second half we’ve come out and played well because we’ve gone in generally with a deficiency there from the first half and have an uphill battle in the second half. I think it was just kind of vice versa on Saturday unfortunately. That's why I think we just have to get two good halves and be able to put those together. Generally teams go in and make adjustments and we have to go in and make adjustments and its benefitted us. On Saturday we did not handle certain things that they did in terms of what they changed defensively to the way that we had attacked them early. We didn't do that in the second half efficiently enough.”

On putting two halves together in SEC play…
“Not necessarily two halves. I think we’ve had some quality minutes in both halves. I think there have been stretches in both halves. The thing is you want to try to play as close to that 40 minutes as you possibly can, and that's what the really good teams do. They have a great deal of success and that's not perfect that they played, but throughout the game there are a lot more quality minutes played in both halves. They generally don't have that kind of slippage or down time on the offensive end or defensively. If a team is pretty good on the defensive end of the floor, they can have lapses on the offensive end of the floor and still keep the game where it needs to be because they are fine tuned in making sure that they stop their opponent. That's where teams can separate themselves, teams who have really good, strong defensive mindsets. They’re able to keep games close, especially nights when they’re not shooting the ball well. The thing I always talk about is defense travels. Regardless of where you are you can certainly still be a really good defensive team because there are often nights where you don't shoot it well. Unfortunately we haven’t been at that level defensively to withstand the type of stretches that we’ve gone without scoring.”

On Ole Miss coming in off of a win…
“Each game is different. I think each team looks at us as if we’re that team that's eager for that next opportunity to challenge to try and get a win. I think people approach it cautiously. I think we’re in that situation again. I think when you look at them and you have other teams that are continuing to grow and are looking for opportunities to better their record for hopefully postseason play. So we’re always up against that caliber of competition. People are motivated by certain things to do well. So we as well are looking to get back on track and are looking to finish strong in preparation for the conference tournament.”

On what happened in the first five minutes of the second half…
“I tell you, its really important coming out of the locker room and setting the tone and the stage for the second half. In those first five minutes I think the tone is set, regardless of what the score is, whether you’re ahead or behind. If you’re the team that goes into the locker room ahead, it’s really important as well. On Saturday we should’ve been able to take that first half and put it behind us, understand that you need to win in the second half. I’m not sure the approach was that way across the board that it was important that we win the second half and get off to a great start. I thought our start was good in that game but we didn't come out in the second half and play the way that we needed to in those first five minutes.”

On getting 50 rebounds and how they can keep that number up…
“A few times this year we’ve done really well and won on the start sheet. You look at the overall balance of the stat sheet and you would’ve thought we’d had success and been the victor on Saturday. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. I think we’ve got to do continue to do a great job on the glass. I think if you can win the rebound war, take care of the basketball and get to the foul line, then generally some good things happen for you. We did rebound the ball well. I think we limited them to one offensive rebound in the first half on Saturday. With the percentages that they were shooting at I thought that could turn out to be a really great night for us.”

On keeping himself and the team positive…
“We just have to get onto the next game in terms of your preparation and getting ready. I think you look at the last game or just this season. I’ve been through it, I’ve been coaching for a long time and I’ve been an assistant for a long time. There’s thing that you have to work through and it’s important that we channel our energies in the right way. We’ve got to make sure that we keep our kids in a certain place, so therefore we have to be. So I understand the challenges that are out there. There are a lot of things you can equate it to. There are other teams, other programs, as well that have gone through some challenges that have come out on the positive end. They hit their win streak and hit a stride. But none of them have been able to do that who has chose to give up and not work as hard. We’re not going to be one of those teams. We choose to keep our shoulders to the grind and continue to push and look for that opportunity for a break through.”

On the upcoming two games on the road…
“We’ve had that experience. I think we have some guys who have played well on the road and have had battles. As this continues to go I thought while we didn't win the game, they grew at Texas Tech. They had a chance to play on the road there against a good team in a tough environment. This is another big challenge for us and hopefully it's a great matchup for us. I think the key for us is that guys are hitting on the right cylinders at the right time together. We’ve had certain guys play well on certain nights and others not. We’ve just got to figure out a way to put it all together.”

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