BATON ROUGE - Johnny O'Bryant III and Andre Stringer each fired in season-highs with 18 points as the LSU men's basketball team capped its season-opening six-game homestand unblemished with an 80-67 victory over Chattanooga Tuesday at the Maravich Center.
It was LSU's (6-0) first action after a 12-day break for final exams. The Tigers have won their first six games for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign and are one of 14 undefeated teams in the nation.
The O'Bryant III and Stringer duo each garnered a 7-for-14 shooting clip. O'Bryant also hauled in 10 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double. The last LSU player to collect three consecutive double-doubles was Storm Warren to start the 2009-10 season. Stringer buried a quartet of triples and dished out four assists.
Corban Collins chipped in career-best with 11 points and distributed three assists to give the Tigers three player in double figures.
LSU eclipsed the 70-point barrier for the sixth consecutive game and registered 19 assists on 30 baskets. The Tigers checked in with a 47.6 shooting clip (30 of 63) compared to a 37.3 percent effort (25 of 67) for Chattanooga. LSU also held a 46-39 rebounding edge and notched a 38-20 advantage in the paint.
Stringer, making his first start of the season, sparked a key 19-4 run late in the second half. LSU had built an early 15-point second half advantage which was trimmed down to 55-53 on a Z. Mason three-pointer with 11:30 remaining.
On LSU's next possession, Stringer nailed a deep triple of his own. He also added a mid-range jumper to spark 11 straight Tiger points to make it 66-53 at the 7:41 mark.
O'Bryant III continued the flurry with a traditional three-point play on a dunk off a Shane Hammink feed. A Collins lay-up ended the spurt and gave LSU its largest lead, 74-57, with 3:49 remaining.
Andrew Del Piero made all three of his field goal attempts to total seven points to go along with four rebounds and three blocks.
Down 23-20 with 9:35 left the first half, LSU ripped off 22 of the stanza's final 29 points to take a 42-30 advantage into the locker room. The Tigers turned up their defensive intensity and limited Chattanooga to a pair of field goals during the stretch.
The Mocs (2-7) were paced by Mason's 22 points and Ronrico White's 17 points, both career-highs. Gee McGhee added 10 points for Chattanooga, which lost its third straight game.
LSU embarks on a three-game road swing Friday at Boise State. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. CT from Taco Bell Arena. The LSU Sports Radio Network 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. There is no telecast for the Boise State game.
LSU returns to the Maravich Center versus Houston Baptist on Friday, December 28. 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.
LSU HEAD BASKETBALL COACH JOHNNY JONES
"I was really pleased with the guys' effort after a 12-day layoff, and an emotional game against Seton Hall, and then taking a break and preparing for finals. It is really difficult to have practices because we never really had our full compliment of players in practice. Generally one or two guys were missing everyday, having to leave early for testing. Other days we've just had to completely take off of practice as well. I thought yesterday may have been the first day we were able to have everyone in practice, but I was very pleased. Our guys knew that we wouldn't be as sharp as we needed to be in this game because of the layoff. But I thought our effort was there especially early in the game and down the stretch in the second half. I thought we put it together, and guys played extremely well. I'm just really pleased with their focus, especially with what they've gone through the last through days."
On facing Chattanooga...
"(Chattanooga) is a good team. I remind you they led Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, a top-25 basketball team, by eight at halftime. One of their guys went 7-for-9 from the three-point line in that game. As late as seven or eight minutes left in the game they were still leading against Kansas, so I knew that record wasn't a great indicator of the type of team they are capable of being. I thought when they made their run against us in the first half, and even late there in the second half, they are a very capable team. We weren't good enough defensively and as aggressive as we needed to be. I thought we were able to turn the heat up and play a lot better after getting attention to detail. I thought Shavon Coleman really set the tone out on the floor. He really got into his guy defensively and I thought the other guys behind him were able to feed off of that. I thought they went through a nice stretch there without scoring. As a team we did hold them to a low field goal percentage. We didn't do a great job of keeping them off the offensive glass like we would have liked to, but anytime you shoot 37 percent you're going to have a lot of opportunities."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
Forward Johnny O'Bryant III
On coming back to playing after being off for a while for final exams...
"It was definitely tough. I think we were off for 12 days. Guys were hitting the books hard. We didn't have everybody at practice everyday - it was hard. But we got back out there, and we tried to hit shots - it was rough for us. We were a little rusty, but we kept pushing it and things fell through for us."
On the different defensive looks that Chattanooga gave them...
"It was very difficult because they come from different sides every time - they don't give you the same look from double teams. Sometimes they came from the top, sometimes they didn't. I just tried to kick the ball out, repost, split the posts and just tried to keep working hard."
On what allowed Chattanooga back into the game during the early second half...
"They just played hard, and they kept going at us. We made a lot of mistakes, a lot of turnovers. We were missing easy shots. Like I said, they played hard. They kind of got us, but we just stayed focused and got the lead back up."
Guard Corban Collins
On getting into a rhythm during the game...
"In the first half, Coach [Johnny Jones] told me to come in, be calm and just play my game. He wanted to make sure I got everybody involved. And then I got myself into a rhythm, got going a little bit. Especially that shot right before halftime - it helped my confidence a little bit. Coming into the second half, I was in a rhythm, so I was able to get going."
Guard Andre Stringer
On his three-pointer to change momentum midway through the second half ...
"We lost our guys a couple of times. They hit a couple of threes on us, got a couple of and-ones and built their confidence. We looked up, and the score was close. I got open and hit a three, which helped us build the momentum up. Obviously, when we went to the timeout, Coach (Jones) was stressing 'we got to defend, we got to defend'. We turned the heat up a little bit. We got in some passing lanes, got some rebounds and got our confidence back."
On filling the void of Anthony Hickey ...
"I wouldn't say it was filling a void, we just knew we had to defend the ball. Obviously, Hickey gets in the passing lane with his speed and he steals a lot of balls. Our ability to rotate on guys from backside and help guys on our help defenses is what was great tonight. At the end of the game, that's why we ended up with so many steals."
On being 6-0 heading into upcoming road trip ...
"It's very important. It gives us confidence builder going into somebody else's territory. Obviously, all away games are tough. They have their fans, we're not used to the scenery and things like that. It's going to be very important that we stay focused this day or two that we have before we go down there and compete like we always do. Practice hard, hold each other accountable like we always do, and we'll be there at the end if we do those things."
UT-CHATTANOOGA COACH JOHN SHULMAN QUOTES
On how his team is improving...
"The first thing I told them in the locker room is very simple. You know you've gotten better when you go to an SEC venue and play an undefeated SEC team and you felt like you gave it away, and that's how I feel. I mean we made enough silly mental mistakes and blunders to win the basketball game. I tried to explain to them that this is a good thing; it's a good thing that we just felt like we gave one away. You know we're down two with eleven to play, and we can't pick up in transition. At times we look like we're getting there, and at times we play like a bunch of inexperienced freshmen like we are. There's no doubt that there are some areas that we did get better in and there's no doubt there are some areas that we're really hurting ourselves."
On the team's shooting performance...
"You know I've got the utmost confidence in Farad Cobb shooting that ball, and he got unbelievable looks at the basket, Gee got really good looks inside the three point line that didn't go, we all got good looks inside the three point line. I liked our offensive concept tonight. I thought we had better flow. It's really our second game that we've doing this, so I think we'll get better at it and better at it and better at it, but we've got to have more production from certain guys for us to be successful, and that's not a secret."
On the LSU athletes and their ability to rebound...
"We knew it was going to be difficult on the glass, that's what they do, that's who they are. They were a positive ten on the glass and they're very, very athletic, you know they've got SEC athletes. I thought the big fella made a difference in the game. He's 7'3" and he changes shots out there. He's not an SEC athlete, but to be in the band two years ago, and to be playing on this level is pretty good to tell you the truth."