BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team was handed its third straight loss to open SEC play and dropped an 82-73 overtime decision to South Carolina Wednesday at the Maravich Center.
Anthony Hickey poured in 15 of his team-leading 18 points during the second half and overtime to lead the Tigers (9-5, 0-3 SEC). He grabbed seven rebounds to match a career-high and handed out four assists. For Hickey, it marked the sixth straight game he reached double figures.
Charles Carmouche added 13 points and five assists, while Johnny O'Bryant III and Andre Stringer chipped in nine points apiece. Andrew Del Piero came away with seven points to go along with five rebounds. Off the bench, Malik Morgan tacked on a solid all-around performance with seven points, five rebounds and a career-best four assists.
With the score tied at 69-69, LSU had an opportunity to win the contest in regulation after a Hickey steal. He drove the lane and kicked the ball out to O'Bryant III who misfired on a 16-foot jumper at the right elbow.
South Carolina (11-5, 1-2 SEC) rode Michael Carrera during the extra session. He knocked down a pair of jumpers, the second one coming with the shot clock running down with 56 seconds left. After Carmouche missed a three-point attempt, Carrera buried all six of his foul shots over the final 39 seconds to vault the Gamecocks to the 82-73 win.
Carrera's 23 points were a career-best, and he secured 10 rebounds en route to his third double-double of the season. The Gamecocks also received double figures from Brenton Williams (16 points), Lakeem Jackson (11 points) and R.J. Slawson (11 points).
LSU jumped out to a 9-4 lead with 16:14 remaining in the first half. Carmouche and O'Bryant III connected for a triple and lay-up on consecutive possessions to break the early 4-4 tie.
With the Tigers ahead 17-15 at the 11:29 mark, South Carolina pieced together 19 of the next 26 points to snatch its largest lead at 34-24. Williams sparked the Gamecocks with nine points during the spurt.
LSU charged back behind an intense defensive effort to close out the opening half and held South Carolina without a field over the final 4:46. Conversely, the Tigers ripped off a 9-1 run to draw back within 35-33 at the intermission. Stringer notched a three-point play to ignite followed by a Del Piero free throw, a Hickey triple and a Morgan lay-up in transition.
The Tigers used eight straight points from Hickey fueled by back-to-back triples to regain a 49-44 lead with 14:44 left during the second half.
The advantage was short-lived as Carrera and Slawson accounted for 14 of the next 18 points for the Gamecocks over the next eight minutes to give South Carolina a 62-58 edge.
Down 64-60, LSU answered the bell as Stringer nailed a jumper and Carmouche nailed a triple on consecutive possessions to give LSU a one-point advantage at the 4:53 mark.
Two minutes later, the Tigers went up 69-65 after a Hickey lay-up and an O'Bryant III tip in. South Carolina fought back with a Carrera lay-up and two Williams free throws to deadlock the score at 69-69.
LSU heads back on the road Saturday at Georgia. Tip time is on-tap for 7 p.m. CT, and the game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television (CST)/Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). An online version of the telecast will be available via www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.
LSU's next home game will be next Wednesday as Texas A&M will make its inaugural trip to the Maravich Center as a member of the SEC. Tickets can be purchased online at LSUtix.net or by calling the LSU Athletics Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening Statement ...
"First of all, I thought this was a great opportunity for us tonight to get back on the winning side of the column. Unfortunately, I thought South Carolina came in and played a very confident basketball game tonight. They played really well in the first half. I thought we made a good run there to get back in it right before the half. We came back out in the second half, and I thought they played confident. I thought our guys played extremely well. I thought we got a lead there towards the end, but it was just a matter of being able to execute. We needed to make tough plays on both ends of the floor meaning we had to defend extremely hard, and we had to finish with tough rebounds. We did half of it. We played well defensively, made them take tough shots. We just didn't come down and finish after we had a four point lead and get big rebounds to finish off the game there at about two minutes left. Credit goes to South Carolina. They played extremely well, played hard. They turned us over 22 times, only had 15 turnovers as a team, and knocked down necessary free throws at the free throw line to put them in a situation to get a victory. I think they shot 38 free throws tonight, meaning they were aggressively attacking the basket. We didn't do a great enough job of defending and making them play over the top of us."
On the difference in the game ...
"I thought they played exactly how they possibly needed to play. We knew it was going to be a tough, hard fought battle going in. I thought we did a good job of holding them in terms of lower field goal percentage there in the first half. We shot it better in the first half. I thought in the second half, again, the scrappy team that they are, turned us over 22 times. That's a big number for us, and we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Not only that, but we've got to make sure that we finish plays around the basket or get to the foul line. We're definitely not getting to the foul line enough, only 17 attempts tonight. That's just a matter of getting the ball aggressively to the rim."
On the plays down the stretch ...
"I just thought that, unfortunately for us, they made the tough plays down the stretch, which was needed for them. Especially when you get in overtime, you want to strike first. We didn't, and they wound up getting up four. We had to fight back. After fighting back and putting ourselves in a position in the end, even in the regulation, I was hoping we didn't get into the overtime. We needed to just make a tough play to get it toward the basket or get some of our perimeter guys spotting up shooting. We didn't execute what we needed to in regulation, and we've definitely got to make sure we clean that up."
On not being able to contain the basketball and getting beat off the dribble ...
"I thought some of the people who were getting beat off the dribble, I was a little surprised because we've done a better job of containing the basketball and making them play over the top of us. Some of our better defenders got beat off the dribble tonight, and they were getting the ball to the rim. We were fouling. They were patient in their half court settings, and we weren't aggressive enough to push them off their spots or push them out of their comfort zones. I thought that they were comfortable running their offense late and getting the looks that they wanted."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
GUARD CHARLES CARMOUCHE
On tonight's struggles offensively...
"We have to get better against the zone. We haven't been good against every team that's shown the zone. We just have to find a way to be aggressive and stop settling. Zones are designed to take quick jump shots. We just weren't able to get the ball inside."
On Michael Carrera's performance...
"(Carrera) was basically knocking down his free throws. He played tough inside. I don't think they were running any plays for him. He was just playing hard. He was getting rebounds and going back up."
On his play while Hickey and O'Bryant III were in foul trouble...
"I don't think it was anything different. Malik (Morgan) came in, and he stepped up. Shavon (Coleman) came in. He stepped up and played hard. We just tried to keep that pace going while Anthony (Hickey) and Johnny (O'Bryant) were gone. As we all know, they are key parts of our team. It was tough having them on the bench because we need those guys to play big roles on our team."
GUARD ANTHONY HICKEY
On the final possession at the end of regulation...
"Johnny (O'Bryant III) was going to set a pick for me. I was going to come off of it, just create and try to get to the basket. I knew they were going to double me so I kicked the ball back to Johnny."
GUARD MALIK MORGAN
On his play while Hickey and O'Bryant III were in foul trouble...
"I just tried to play as hard as I could and give the team some more energy off the bench. It hurts having (Anthony) Hickey and Johnny (O'Bryant III) on the sideline, but we've done it in games before, and we were able to pull out wins. We just have to keep working through all of these problems we have right now."
South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
On what South Carolina did to win on the stretch and overtime...
"Our zone defense neutralized them a little bit. I thought our guys played pretty strong and got them standing around a little bit. We thought that was something that we utilized. Offensively, we played well in spurts. We had some good moments, and we had other moments that were hard to watch. At the end of the day, I am proud of our guys. Once again, we were in a one-possession game coming down the stretch. This time we managed things a lot better."
On how the front court played tonight...
"We started off doing some really good things, but then our guards starting running long or something. A lot of credit goes to those kids. We've been challenging and needing more from them. Not just in scoring, but their activity, protecting the ball and inbounding the ball. All three of those guys came out and lit a big time spark."
On how Brenton Williams and the team improved tonight from the past games...
"I just don't know. When kids embrace success, they handle things differently. For whatever reason, we will lose focus on some of the things that keep us going and help our basketball team. We have been real hard on them for the past seven or eight days. We are real proud of the fact that they played better today. I think they gave us some good moments tonight."
On how South Carolina would be successful tonight...
"We were actually playing real well in the first half. The last two and half minutes of the first half, we just went brain dead offensively. We took some bad shots and made some turnovers. The one thing we wanted do was keep our spread in the open court. We did a pretty good job on that tonight. We gave them a good game on the road. They played the second half with a lot of courage. Hickey and Stringer played well defensively. We have been in the same situation. This time we figured out a way to stand strong, make some shots and rebound the ball."
South Carolina Guard Lakeem Jackson
On the team's first SEC win...
"I think we definitely closed the game out. In our first two SEC games, we lost because of some turnovers in the last couple possessions. Tonight, we pushed it in overtime and came out with a win."
On South Carolina's effort as a team...
"The effort came across the board. We really stressed on moving the ball, getting extra passes, getting everyone involved and getting the ball inside. We didn't necessarily have to score from inside but kicking it back out, moving the ball and making sure everybody was ready to make shots.
South Carolina Forward Michael Carrera
On the team's first SEC win...
"We executed more in overtime. We need to just keep getting better and execute the plays.
On his momentum in the second half...
"I don't know, it just happened. Believing in God, I think He gave me the power to step out, help my teammates, help my coach and do the job that I love."
On playing in a hostile environment...
"For me, I like pressure. I like pressure a lot. I've been dealing with pressure all my life so I think I did pretty well. We got the win.