BATON ROUGE - LSU tries to build upon a win over Alabama Saturday night and continue to move closer to .500 in the Southeastern Conference when it hosts Mississippi State in a Valentine's Day nightcap at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Tuesday.
Tipoff for the contest of Tigers and Bulldogs is set for just after 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The game will also be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge).
Tickets for the game start at $15 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12) and are available online at LSUtix.net. Tickets will be sold during the day until 5 p.m. at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office in the Administration Building in the west parking lot of Tiger Stadium and sales at the upper concourse ticket windows of PMAC will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The first 5,000 in attendance will receive an LSU rally towel.
LSU will be looking for the third time in February to reverse the results of an SEC road game in January. LSU has already defeated Arkansas and Alabama this month after losing to both teams on the road last month and will be trying to pull the same against the Bulldogs.
The Tigers come into the game 14-10 on the year (two wins shy of guaranteeing a winning season record) and 4-6 in the league (4-1 at the PMAC), while Mississippi State, receiving votes in the AP and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, is now 19-6 and 6-4 in the league. State enters the week in a tie for third in the SEC, looking for one of the bye spots in the SEC Tournament in March at the New Orleans Arena.
The first time the teams met, LSU was down nine entering the final couple of minutes before Anthony Hickey hit three treys that got LSU as close as one in the final 30 seconds before falling, 76-71. Andre Stringer had 17 points to lead LSU in that first meeting, with Hickey totaling 16 and Justin Hamilton 11. The teams shot practically the same 43 percent from the field, but LSU hit 11-of-21 three-pointers.
The Tigers were just 8-of-13 at the free throw line, compared to 23-of-31 for the Bulldogs and Mississippi State dominated LSU on the boards by 20, 46-26.
LSU will be trying to prevent the Bulldogs from winning three straight in the PMAC since MSU's five-year winning streak from 1994-98. In the last four overall meetings, the games have been decided by 1, 1, 2 and 5 points.
LSU will be on the road Saturday at South Carolina before returning home for a Feb. 21 home date with Georgia.
Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.
Here are some of the comments from Coach Johnson at Monday's media session:
Opening Statement ...
"Mississippi State, it's hard to say if they're a lot better than they were the last time we played them, because I thought they were pretty impressive. They're very balanced, very athletic and very skilled. When you start talking about basketball and you start talking about athletic, that's one thing. But when you're athletic and you're skilled, that's tough to deal with. Again [Arnett] Moultrie, make no mistake about it, he is special. He really is. I was sort of shocked that he took six shots versus Georgia so I fully expect them to have an emphasis on pounding the ball inside. They absolutely destroyed us on the glass, 46 to 26. In watching that game, it felt a lot worse from where I was sitting. We have a challenge in front of us, and we need to play well. We had our opportunity in the first half and in the second half, we were never out of the game [last time at Mississippi State]. They were in control with about three minutes to go and then we fought back. Anthony [Hickey] made some deep three's but for the most part that thing was decided on the glass."
On whether the Alabama game was Johnny O'Bryant III best overall game ...
"From a stand point of taking care of the ball, having more assist than turnovers, rebounding the ball, some of the shots he made at crucial times as opposed to shooting fade away jump shots, taking the ball to the rim and trying to get to the free throw line, I have to say yes."
On Anthony Hickey's development ...
"Again, as we all know, a good point guard play is measured off of wins. I don't talk to him about shots; I talk to him about his decisions. I talk to him about keeping everybody involved. Probably the first and foremost thing I talk to him about is defensively. That is where he has had some break downs in terms of hurting him and us at crucial times. Not keeping the ball low and in front of him, not getting back in transition. Going back to Vanderbilt, he took 16 [shots]. There were probably 12 [shots] that were good ... But for him to be in any game and not have assists, that's not what we need. He is fully aware of that. There is a fine line with a guy like him who has a lot of courage and is not afraid to take big shots or make big plays. For me, I just have to always talk about the decision and what do we need to win right now. What do we need to win this possession. What do we need to do whether its offense or defense. Then, go from there."
On decision of how to play against Mississippi State ...
"It's a matter of us trying to play within what we do. Again, that's real obvious where we've had our success. If we are shooting the ball well, we can beat people if it's up around mid 70s. The bottom line is we need to be efficient on offense, take time, run when we have the opportunity, set good screens, move the ball and sprint back on defense. Since we are talking about Mississippi State, I don't care who they have played in the past. In our game [at Starkville], we took quick shots. We took quick shots in a couple of crucial situations, and they ran out on us. It was like a dunk fest for them ... we had some guys who didn't get back [on defense] ... To start the game and midway through the second half when they got a lead, when we ran our stuff, executed, set good screens, played within ourselves and played with each other, then we had some success. It is about us sustaining that and being consistent in that approach as opposed to getting caught in the moment and thinking that we can go off and do something on our own. Or that we can go off and break down defensively. Those are the things that are going to help us be successful."
On John Isaac ...
"He's got some things cleared up off the floor in terms of his academics. I thought he played well versus Alabama. This is a game [against Mississippi State] where we need him to help us defensively because we are going to have to guard them with nine or 10 guys. This is not a game where a guy like Ralston [Turner], a guy like Eddie Ludwig] or any of our post guys can be out here for long extended periods of time."
On the potential of the chemistry between the post players growing ...
"When you talk about potential, in a way, it's unlimited. When I say trust, this whole group just has sense of trust amongst each other. I don't particularly single out Johnny (O'Bryant III) and Justin (Hamilton) as opposed to it's a four-headed monster with Storm (Warren), Malcolm (White), Justin and Johnny. Those four guys have always been in tune with each other and in tune with what we want to accomplish. Eddie (Ludwig), obviously, is a journeyman in the sense that when we play against undersized four men we can play him ... Johnny and Justin played well last time. Previously, it was probably Justin and Storm in the second half versus Vanderbilt. It's nice to see because Johnny played well [against Alabama]. Again hopefully, he'll build off that and play well tomorrow. When I say well, I'm not always talking about scoring. I'm talking about rebounding and making solid plays defensively. Those things are important as opposed to looking at how many points you have or that kind of thing. He made a nice high-low pass to Justin, and Justin did a really good job of sealing. Again, we work on it a lot. Storm has made plays, Malcolm made those same plays and Eddie has made those same plays. "