Coach Johnny Jones Met With the Media Thursday Before Prep For Alabama Began
LSU Athletics Creative Services

LSU Goes Back To Work In Prep For Alabama

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

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Basketball Tigers began preparations for the trip to Tuscaloosa for a Saturday afternoon rematch with Alabama on Thursday meeting with the media before their 3 p.m. practice session.

The teams will meet for a second time on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa in a game broadcast by the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and lsusports.net/live) and televised by the SEC Network.

Alabama won the first meeting of the two teams back on Jan. 14 at the Maravich Center by a score of 81-66. The game was tied with 5:06 to play before Alabama ran off a string of points to basically clinch the contest.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media prior to practice today and here are some of his comments:

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening statement…
“We’re coming off of a game on Tuesday where we thought we played some really good positive stretches, but unfortunately toward the end of the game it took a turn not for the positive for us. They got some and-ones going to the basket (on) continuation plays and they were able to knock down a couple of threes on the backside of their offense and I thought that gave them an opportunity to get a quick stretch. I don't think the score is a good indicator of how well or how tough the game had been played. Unfortunately we had the deficit there at the end. I think our team is growing and continues to get better and we’ll have an opportunity to address those challenges again on Saturday against a team that I think has been playing well. They’re a team that was in a strong, tough battle last night against a Missouri team that I think has been playing well as of late. They play well at home and Alabama was able to get a victory there in a hard fought battle last night. We look forward to Saturday afternoon at 2:30 to be able to battle against a team that we had a setback against earlier this year. Hopefully we can make some adjustments on some things that hindered us here to be a better team and hopefully be on the right side of the score this time.”

On the three newcomers this season playing a lot of minutes and thoughts on each…
“I tell you, it’s been really good. The guy who was most surprising I think has been Duop Reath. We knew the impact that he was making on his junior college team, but when we brought him in we thought he would be serving a different role for us. We thought he’d be a shot blocker and a rebounder that was capable of scoring, but not necessarily carrying the load. When we had to make the adjustment after Craig Victor’s departure his role certainly changed. Instead of being that role guy that we needed him to play, he became the feature for us. That's a tough role for him and he’s had to play maximum minutes for us at that spot. We’ve really had to count on him tremendously.

“Then you have Wayde Sims. I think any time you take the scoring and the rebounding that Victor offered us, and then you bring a guy like Sims and put him in a different rotation where he’s obviously playing more minutes and more is expected of him to deliver for us, I think both guys have done an adequate job of continuing to grow and get better. They’ve learned from their experiences and their challenges that they've been faced with.

Skylar Mays has been really exceptional at the point guard position. He’s continued to grow and get better as the season has progressed. One thing he’s trying to learn is obviously our offense and making sure that he’s creating opportunities out there for other people on the floor. I think his assist to turnover ratio speaks to that. I think he’s shown the ability to score and that's something he didn't really do in high school. But I think he saw that was a needed trait for us and he’s stepped up and become an impact for us on the offensive end as well. I think over the last four or five games he’s been one of our leaders in field goal percentage, one of our leading scorers, and our leader in assists. To have a freshman make that type of impact I think speaks volumes about his dedication and focus and his talent level. The young guys, the new guys we have certainly made an impact and a lot has been put on their plate.”

On what happened in the last four and a half minutes of the game against Ole Miss…
“I think one of the things I could’ve done better is try to get those guys out earlier. We wound up getting a lead at about the 16-minute mark. I think we were hesitant of taking Blakeney and Sampson out at the time because we had a pretty good flow going. I think we didn't and when they made their run late it was really tough to get them out. Sometimes you can stretch them a little too long. We’ve had to put in Marshall (Graves) who I thought played well in the first half and gave us quality minutes. We had to put some guys in there late. We would’ve liked to have gotten some rest for those guys so they could’ve been better down the stretch for us and maybe not as fatigued at that time of the game. We’ve got to constantly monitor that. It's a real fine line for us right now in getting those guys out especially when we’re counting on them to score so much for us. They were delivering in the first half. You just don't know when the opportunity was going to come for him in the second half with the way they were trying to defend him. They were shadowing him and keeping people in closer proximity of him, be it whether it was zone or man. I think it showed that he probably wasn't as efficient in knocking his shots down and being patient. Unfortunately we had some unforced turnovers that led to easy scoring opportunities for them.”

On what Ole Miss did to Antonio Blakeney in the last 10 minutes of the game…
“They just adjusted defensively. We’ve got to help him understand movement and getting into gap areas. As players and playmakers on our team we’ve got to try to help him get easier shots as well. We’ve got to either drive at guys and make them help, then get him the ball and give easy looks. We need to force those guys to help and get more movement out of him. When you have to play the amount of minutes that he had to play the other night, sometimes it doesn't allow you to be as explosive or as effective in getting open and working to get to those spots. If that’s going to happen our playmakers have to do a good job of creating opportunities that are easier for him so that he can get touches. We didn't do that the other night. “

On getting to the ball to Antonio Blakeney in the second half…
“When you can get 20 points, people are obviously going to try to defend you a certain way. What I like about our team is that we have a lot of high field goal percentage shooting guys. If we get attempts instead of turnovers things are good for us. When Antonio catches the ball, depending on how the defense shifts, we should have other guys having great scoring opportunities. It’s just a matter of those guys delivering when those opportunities present themselves, and not so much that he has to take shots. He can certainly be the initiator of what we’re looking for. We were certainly looking for him late, and he had to take some tough shots with people coming out. Those were opportunities where an extra pass may be able to work for him because people are gong to not let you beat them. They’ll take you away, especially when they know coming in that you’re the leading scorer. “

On playing Alabama for the second time…
“Coming out of the locker room, in the first play of the second half we missed a layup. Then we came back and missed a wide-open jumper. Then we came back and split a one-and-one. Then we missed another layup. So if you execute on those plays you not only keep them at bay but you can stretch your margin of lead. It forces your opponent to play a different way. We didn't do that. They didn't score, we did a pretty good job on the defensive end of the floor, but we failed to execute offensively. We’ve just got to do a better job of making sure we’re knocking down shots. What we’re running offensively works. We’ve got high field goal shooting percentage guys. We’ve just got to make sure we make those shots and we didn't do that. It allowed them to hang around and unfortunately they hit a spurt late with about four or five minutes left. They got on a nice little stretch there and were able to turn us back.”

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