BATON ROUGE - LSU used runs late in both halves and overcame the loss for the game of forward Johnny O'Bryant III just past the halfway point of the first half to win the opening game of Coach Johnny Jones' tenure as Tiger coach, 77-63, Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
O'Bryant played 11 of the first 13 minutes, hit 6-of-10 field goals including a three to score 13 points and had eight rebounds before going to the dressing room with seven minutes to go in the first half and did not return. He appeared to suffer a minor left leg injury, but Coach Jones said in his post-game press conference that he had not had a chance to discuss the matter with LSU trainer Shawn Eddy. The team will take Saturday off and not practice again until Sunday in preparation for Tuesday's home game against McNeese State.
Three other Tigers had double figures with Charles Carmouche also hitting 6-of-10 field goals in a 16 point night, while Malik Morgan and Shane Hammink, playing with his dad (former LSU All-SEC center Geert Hammink) in the stands, each scored 10.
Anthony Hickey came off the bench to play 28 minutes, hitting for six points, six assists and seven steals.
UCSB (0-1) was led by Kyle Boswell with 17 points, while Alan Williams had 14 and Michael Bryson 10.
LSU (1-0), shot 44.8 percent from the field (30-67) and 10-26 from the field (38.5%). While UC Santa Barbara out rebounded the Tigers, 41-40, the Gauchos turned the ball over 23 times. LSU was able to knock down its 21 turnovers in Monday's exhibition down to 13. The only negative stat was that some of LSU's best free throw shooters struggled, making just 7-of-20 from the stripe.
O'Bryant helped the Tigers overcome a sluggish start that saw the Gauchos, a post-season team the last three years, to a five-point, 14-9 advantage 6:30 into the contest. O'Bryant III appeared to be everywhere following a Hammink three with one of his own to give LSU a 27-22 advantage with 9:18 to go in the first half. The lead went to as much as nine, 33-24, at the 7:03 mark before O'Bryant III headed to the bench.
It was at that point that UCSB made a big run to cut the LSU lead to just two, 33-31, with 4:14 to go in the first half. But LSU would finish the half good and led 41-32 at intermission.
Without O'Bryant, the Tigers turned into a quicker unit and like the exhibition on Monday, became a quick hands unit forcing 14 second half miscues that led to 15 LSU points. LSU in the first seven minutes opened the lead to 18, 55-37, on an Andre Stringer three with 13:06 to play and to as much as 21 on three occasions in the final four minutes.
Tickets for Tuesday night's LSU-McNeese game, set for 7 p.m. at the Maravich Center, will be on sale all weekend at LSUtix.net and beginning Monday morning at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office. The game will be the first of five televised regionally by Cox Sports TV.
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LSU vs. UC Santa Barbara
November 9, 2012
LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
"Well first of all I want to say how excited we are, and I am, to have gotten this game behind us and under our belt. It's been since April 13th, I've really been looking forward to this day for a lot of reasons, and having the opportunity to coach a live game out there. It's from my drive in to work today, spending time with the guys in pre-practice prior to the game, and just sitting back there in the locker room after pre-practice, just really having the chance to take it all in, just really filled with emotions from playing days and just going full-circle to remember my mom and dad being at my games here as a freshman driving in from DeRidder and having the opportunity of seeing her sitting there in the stands tonight meant a whole lot to me. I'm so glad we were able to get it behind us. Great effort by our players tonight, the way that they played, got after it, gave a tremendous effort out there tonight. Before you guys ask, on Sunday when we get back to practice we will work on free throws, so I'll get that knocked out for us."
On status of Johnny O'Bryant III...
"He just said he felt a little strain there in his leg. I haven't had an opportunity to visit with our trainer extensively yet to find out exactly what happened, but we'll have an opportunity to rest him tomorrow, have him reevaluated, and just kind of see where we stand prior to us coming back to practice on Sunday."
On the play of Johnny O'Bryant before being injured...
"Well it was nothing I saw in April when we worked out with him. I didn't see it all summer and I haven't seen it since October since we started practice to be honest with you. The way that he played away from the basket and as explosive he was, I thought he was on a tear. Jumped up making plays, and he's very capable of knocking down shots. Through our practices and scrimmaging, we've utilized him mostly around the basket and made sure that he took advantage of those opportunities, but I thought he knocked down a couple of shots early, felt extremely confident, and was really playing a great basketball game. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see him finish it out because of that little setback there that he had. Johnny's very capable. He's worked extremely hard during the offseason, and its good to see him have a great first game like that, especially there in the first half like he was having."
On facing adversity after O'Bryant's injury...
"Generally, you have a great bench or a number of guys that are out there. We utilized Shavon Coleman a lot at the four and a few times he had to guard the five, their best post player inside. That was kind of a different matchup for Shavon because he usually doesn't draw that type of assignment. I thought the guys did an excellent job of keeping them off balance. I thought our guards were really good in terms of putting a lot of pressure on the ball and not allowing easy passes and getting deflections. That's what allowed us to get so many turnovers tonight. We never allowed them to get in their comfort zone, and they are a team that is very good in terms of running their offense and getting the shots that they want."
FORWARD EDDIE LUDWIG
On tonight's game...
"It felt great. You all saw us out there running up and down, knocking down shots and getting steals. That's Coach Jones' style of play. That's how we practice. That's what we've been doing since he's got here. I think it just translated out onto the floor. I really think it all started with our defense, especially in the second half. Just like our preseason game, we really stepped it up defensively in the second half. We were able to make stops, and push the ball. We got some open layups, and open shots which really helped us out."
GUARD ANTHONY HICKEY
On adjusting without Johnny O'Bryant III...
"We just have to step up as a team. If one person goes down everyone else has to step up. (Johnny O'Bryant III) is a big player that went down. He came in strong with 13 points. We struggled a little bit when he went down on the offensive and defensive rebounds. But we came together as a team, and just played as a whole."
On coming in off the bench...
"They did great at the exhibition game. I was able to cheer them on. I felt like I had to whatever I needed to do to be their leader as a point guard."
GUARD CHARLES CARMOUCHE
On tonight's defensive success...
"I think we caught on to how (UC Santa Barbara) was running their offense. We started jumping the passing lanes, and running the break. As you could see, we are pretty good when we are running the break."
On tonight's missed free throws...
"I've been knowing Eddie (Ludwig) since I was a little boy. He never missed free throws. So that was weird. I'm pretty sure he's definitely going to bounce back, and we're going to bounce back as a team.
UC-SANTA BARBARA HEAD COACH BOB WILLIAMS QUOTES
On the loss tonight...
"The turnovers were the biggest thing. I thought they got more rebounds, they were more physical than us, and the turnovers led to transition points. I don't know what the number is, but I would say they beat us three-to-one in transition, and you can't have that. And there's no stat bigger than that - 23 turnovers for us, 13 for them. And then their quickness when [Johnny O'Bryant III] went out and they went small, that really bothered us. We just got tentative on the perimeter and our young guys didn't take care of the ball at all. That's the nature of it."
On the performance of LSU tonight...
"There's no doubt they just decided to come out and get us. They were really aggressive. I thought in the first half when [Johnny O'Bryant III] went out that their mindset changed defensively and their quickness was a huge factor. They're more athletic than we are and they're quicker than we are. They're small but they're stocky and strong, and it didn't hurt them in the rebounding aspect. We couldn't take advantage of them inside because we couldn't get the ball inside. I thought their quickness was definitely more than what we've seen so far. They're quick Division I guys. They weren't very big, but they're jet-quick."