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Jones Previews South Carolina Matchup
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Published: January 14, 2013, 06:20 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - LSU men's basketball coach Johnny Jones held his Monday media briefing as he looks toward the Tigers next home game on Wednesday night at home versus South Carolina.

Game time is 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN app on mobile telephone and tablet.

The Tigers are 9-4 and 0-2 in the league, while South Carolina is 10-5 and 0-2 in the league. LSU has lost at Auburn and at home versus Florida, while South Carolina has lost at Mississippi State and at home versus Auburn.

Tickets for the game are available online at LSUtix.net and on game night beginning one hour prior to tipoff at the upper concourse windows of the Maravich Center.

Here are some of the comments from Coach Jones on Monday:

LSU Basketball Media Session
January 14, 2013

Head Coach Johnny Jones

Opening Statement...
"It was a really tough and hard fought battle on Saturday. I thought it was a really good experience for something that was needed during this early part of the season. It was great for an evaluation point for us. We played a really tough, defensive basketball team, and a team that executed extremely well offensively in the second half. On Wednesday, we'll be presented with that type of challenge on the defensive end of the floor. (South Carolina) is a very aggressive team, very physical, and a team that we'll have to execute really well against to make sure that we're picking up in our scoring. Our field goal percentage has dropped somewhat along with our scoring. We've just got to make sure that we get back to executing, being poised, handling the pressure, being patient and making plays. We'll definitely be presented with a challenge on Wednesday against a team that's 0-2 but just a couple of possessions from being 2-0 in league play."

On the difference defensively between Frank Martin's team at South Carolina compared to when he was at Kansas State...
"I've had the privilege of playing against Kansas State when Coach Martin was there. We played each other in the NCAA tournament. He had tremendous guard play and excellent forwards. They were really strong defensively. They try to get into the passing lanes and try to prevent you from making entry passes and forcing you out of your offensive sets. They're extremely aggressive in that manner. They go for steals and try to create that type of tempo for them. Inside, they're very physical. They try to deny entry passes to the post guys with a lot of ball pressure."

On Coach Frank Martin's coaching style...
"His teams at Kansas State, they were always extremely aggressive. That's the fashion in which they play. I think any coach like that, a lot of times, their personality kind of rubs off on the team. I know for sure was there at Kansas State because of the way they played, and the same thing will apply at South Carolina as well. I'm sure that's his mission. Those guys are not really getting into the mode in terms of how he would like for them to play and as aggressive. They won't be around there long because that's just his way. It's the way that he's coached and his mentality. It's worked, and it's been really successful for him."

On getting to the free throw stripe...
"We haven't gotten to the line as much as I would have liked over the last few games. You play a team like South Carolina that is extremely aggressive, doesn't give up easy baskets and play with a lot of toughness. I guess the way that they play creates some foul opportunities as well. They over play a lot. Sometimes, you try to get to the rim because of the rotation.  If they get down a little late, they may foul you because they don't give up easy baskets. You get into the foul count against them early, and you get some 1-and-1 opportunities. Those things can happen. At the same time, you have to get to the free throw line and execute there as well and knock them down. We're hopeful that we're strong and patient enough with the basketball that we can create some of those opportunities for ourselves as well."

On facing zone defenses ...
"It's tough. I think we have to do a better job of executing against a zone. We haven't done a great job in the last couple of games in terms of being patient enough to get into the gaps, be it with the dribble to try to tie up the defense to get a pass back out. We've done it on occasions, just not enough. We haven't gotten the ball in the side high post area, the high post area of the zone, to try to force them to collapse a little bit so we can make the next pass out of there. Those are some areas that we've got to work on over the next couple of days. We're pretty sure we'll see some more zone defenses in the coming weeks because of the way that we've played against it. I think those are some areas that we can really clean up, and I think that we've got a really good shooting team. It's just a matter of making sure that we're putting the balls in the right areas to get the shots that we need."

On maintaining balance on both sides of the floor...
"I think its balance. I think it's is a cause for concern. One, you've got to be really good on the defensive end of the floor if you're going to win. You've got to be able to pitch shutouts, and then get scoring opportunities on the other end. That's great balance for you. When you're giving up high percentage and not shooting the ball as well, that's a recipe for disaster. You definitely want to have it on the flip side that you're forcing teams with lower field goal percentage, and ours is up. When you have depth on your team that generally allows you to play your certain way, especially in the game and force people to shoot a little bit lower percentage. Unfortunately, for us on the offensive end, the same holds true. You have to be playing a certain way and have a certain boost about yourself to really execute at a high level. A lot of times games are going to come down to the last four or five minutes. That team that is able to execute at a high level has a chance to have success a lot of times."

On playing with a lack of depth in SEC play...
"We'll struggle with that a little bit because of conditioning. Obviously, we'd like to continue getting in better shape. You don't want to be in tip-top shape at the beginning of the year. Right now where we are, it hinders us somewhat because of some of the numbers. You're going against the caliber of competition in this conference that you have to play against night in and night out. You look at Florida on Saturday; the number of guys that they had that kept coming in. They had guys go down with injuries, but other guys came in and really produced extremely well for them. I thought that they were playing just as hard during the list five or six minutes of the game as they were the first five minutes. That's because they had enough guys that they could rest. Every dead ball you'd see somebody generally coming in for them. When you have those types of numbers, you can play a certain way and keep your pace up at a really high level."

On facing South Carolina...
"Well the thing is, one, we're going to have to defend extremely well to create some opportunities for us. Not taking the ball out of the net but getting rebounds. When we do that, we can push the ball. They shot a pretty fair percentage the other night against Auburn. Auburn wound up shooting 60 percent there in the first half, but South Carolina shot a pretty decent percent. What happens is, if a team is turning it over or if you're getting steals that presents a lot of fast break opportunities for us as well. (Bruce) Ellington is getting better. He has six games in right now and is making plays for them. (He's) scoring and getting assists. He's trying to work those guys back in, and they will. We've just got to try and make sure that we don't relax or take anything for granted. We need to play at the intensity level for long periods of time when we can and create those opportunities by forcing low percentage shots, getting rebounds and pushing the ball up the floor."

On continuing to progress as a team...
"I just think that it's on the job training. For the most part, there are some things you have to go through. You're teaching that daily. You're looking at the tape and showing them the better opportunities that you want to take advantage of and hope that there is a balance that the guys will grasp it. When the guys have a good basketball IQ and you're teaching and you're showing them enough then they're start making better decisions. You don't want them to feel handcuffed and start playing tight. You want them to still have the ability with that freedom to take those good shots when they get them without playing uptight. They have to get a good balance, and I think throughout the season we will get there. When we get it, I think is when you'll see the beauty of what we're doing offensively."

On the play of Jalen Courtney...
"I think Jalen  did an excellent job of giving us some great hustle the other night. Over the last few games, he's made an impact for us. He's going to need to continue to do that and not put a lot of pressure on himself in terms of scoring. If he can rebound the basketball and defend well in the post, screen and get guys open, and at the same time finish inside when the opportunity presents itself, I think that's all we really ask as of him. We don't need him to step outside of what he's capable of doing or trying to get out there and score 15 points or so. We need him to make an impact in the areas that he can, and I think he's tried to do that the last few games."

On adjusting to teams double teaming Johnny O'Bryant III ...
"I think the great thing is when guys are double teamed because it leaves other guys open for us. For Johnny (O'Bryant III), I'm hopeful that we can continue to where we are double teamed that we can make the right pass out of the double team that's going to lead to baskets or high percentage shots for us. So, we welcome the double team, but it's just we've got to clean up how we're playing out of it."

On South Carolina's Bruce Ellington...
"I think he brings a totally different look to their basketball team. He brings toughness. He plays with a sense of urgency, has a passion for the game and has the ability to score in the open floor. He can get to the rim. He can defend, a really tough on-ball defender, as well. He brings a lot of things to their basketball team that's needed at this level. To see a guy that is able to come off the football field and come out and transition as quickly as he has, it says a lot about his ability. He'll continue to get better. He's a guy that we'll definitely have to watch. I think he had 18 points the other night against Auburn. He's a guy that they look to."

On approaching each game with a sense of urgency...
"Unfortunately for us and our mentality, all of them are a sense of urgency. Auburn game, get off to a great start in conference, a sense of urgency. Florida coming in here, it's a home game for us and a top 10 team, you want to get them because you want to make sure that you protect your home floor. The same will hold true for South Carolina. They're coming in here, and we're hopeful that our fan base will be behind us like they were Saturday and create that environment for us. It will be with a sense of urgency for us because it's another home game. You've got nine (SEC home games). You want to make sure that you protect your home floor, and that's important for us."

On Johnny O'Bryant's III health...
"I think there's a difference between hurt and nagging injuries. I think he may have a nagging injury. Those are some things that sometimes you have to figure out how you're going to be able to play through them and get better. That's what we need from Johnny (O'Bryant III). We're hopeful that there's no further damage or anything that can possibly be done. Hopefully, he can figure out a way that he can play through it and give us those important minutes that we need from him. If we find out that he can, we'd love to go with him. If we find out that he can't, we have to figure out who will be available for us to get the maximum play out of those guys in that position because that's a very important position. It's kind of a war zone in this league in the paint area. That's where a lot of games are won between those lines. It's important that we get Johnny back or someone has to really step up and play a special role for us."

On guys stepping up in the absence of Johnny O'Bryant...
"I think we look back to early in the year, we've had some success. Unfortunately, Johnny (O'Bryant III) had some injuries that took him out of some games early. We had some success in other games where he may have gotten in foul trouble. Guys came in, stepped up and played an important role. The other night Andrew (Del Piero) played 33 minutes, the most on the team, and was very productive during that time on both ends of the floor. We have guys that are capable of stepping up, but with your lack of depth, you'd like to have a guy like that who can be an impact guy like Johnny. I was very pleased in the effort that we got from the guys that were in that position. Unfortunately Florida, with the big guys that they have in there with (Patric) Young and (Erik) Murphy, it just made it extremely tough inside. They just continued to bring in guys. You get those guys in there who can compete at a high level."

On recent free throw struggles...
"Well, I think you look some nights depending on who is shooting them and getting to the line. Unfortunately for Johnny (O'Bryant III), a lot of times your post guys are getting a lot of foul shot opportunities. I don't think Johnny's taken a foul shot in conference play. We've got to get the right guys to the line and just step up and make them. We've had some really good shooting nights, and I think our free throw percentage has improved from the beginning of the year. We've got guys who are very capable. We've just got to get to the line and make them. I don't think it has become a mental thing for us right now. I just think it's through the process, and we're not shooting a lot of free throws. We're not getting to the line a lot. I don't know if I've said this before, but at North Texas, over the last three years, we led the nation in two of the last three years in free throws made per game. The year that we didn't we were second. We shot over 70 percent in each of those years. That's a big plus because I think the games generally come down, like I said, in the last three or four minutes. Games usually are in between about four to six points, and a lot of games can be decided at the free throw line."

On the impact of home crowd...
"That's our mission. Night in, night out to have a crowd hopefully 10,000 or better in here. On game night, we want this (the PMAC) as the place to be. We, as a team, have to create that environment because we have to have that type of product out there on the floor. Our fans know that they're going to get it, and they have to be excited to come out to watch them. I'm hopeful that we provided some of that for them on Saturday, but fans play a huge part in what we're doing in winning. They can really help you and have in games. I thought they really encouraged our guys on Saturday, although we through our press out there. I thought the energy that they gave us when they were behind us in hollering. I thought that they helped and kind of fed the frenzy. Hopefully, they bothered Florida a little bit and gave our guys that much needed energy to fight through it. So, yes, that's exactly where we would like to be and continuing to get better."

 

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