Men's Basketball Returns Home to Face Bulldogs
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team, with little time to celebrate Thursday night's 64-46 win at South Carolina, turned their attention quickly to Mississippi State and Saturday afternoon's game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Tip time is 4:05 at the Maravich Center and the game will be televised on ESPNU with Tom Hart and Matt Doherty on the call. The affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game (Eagle 98.1 FM and in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net) with Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford on the call.
Tickets are available online at LSUtix.net and will be available at the upper concourse ticket windows at the Maravich Center beginning one hour prior to tip off. Fans with ticket stubs form the 1 p.m. LSU baseball game can bring their baseball ticket to the Maravich Center and buy a ticket to the basketball game for just $5.
LSU students are admitted free of charge with valid student ID.
Basketball trading cards will be handed out to fans at the game and at halftime the 1953 team that went to what is now the NCAA Final Four will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of that accomplishment will be honored. The team includes Ned Clark, Benny McArdle and Naismith Hall of Fame legend Bob Pettit.
The Tigers played what may have been one of their best halves of the season Thursday night as forward Johnny O'Bryant III exploded for 30 points and his 10th double double of the season with 10 rebounds. O'Bryant III is tied for the league lead in double doubles.
It marked the first time an LSU player had a 30-point game since 2010 and the 18-point win was the biggest for LSU on the road in the SEC since an 80-62 win at Georgia in 2009.
The Tigers come into Saturday's game tied for eighth in the league at 5-6 and 14-8 overall and a win on Saturday would get LSU back to .500 in the league after starting 0-4. Mississippi State is now 7-16 and 2-9 in the SEC after losing nine straight games.
The teams met for the first time two weeks ago in Starkville with LSU rallying from a 17-point deficit to win 69-68 on a floater in the lane by Anthony Hickey with 1.5 seconds remaining. The game proved to be eerily similar to the team's meeting in 2012 in Baton Rouge when Hickey made the floater in the lane with 1.4 seconds to play after LSU was down 17 points.
LSU is expected to go with Andre Stringer (10.7 ppg), Malik Morgan (5.4 ppg) and Hickey (11.8 ppg) at guards, with O'Bryant III at forward (13.2 ppg) and Andrew Del Piero at center (4.0 ppg). Del Piero returned to the starting lineup on Thursday and had a career high 7 rebounds to go with a perfect 3-3 shooting night from the field.
Fred Thomas leads the projected Mississippi State starting five, averaging 10.2 points per game.
LSU Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Friday and here are some of his comments:
Opening statement ...
"I'm extremely excited about the victory last night. I thought it was one of our more complete games defensively that we've played all year. We knew that they would come out with a great deal of energy, playing with a sense of energy. They did that, got the first couple of offensive rebounds and a couple of 50/50 balls from us. I thought we settled in afterwards and played throughout the game on the defensive end. On the offensive end we executed, were patient and got the ball to Johnny (O'Bryant). I thought Johnny did an excellent job of being patient, in terms of making his moves early on and putting pressure on their defenders. We didn't shoot a great percentage there in the first half, but I thought we did the things necessary to at least keep ourselves in the game. I thought in the second half we executed offensively really well. On the defensive end, probably one of our best outputs this season."
On last night's victory ...
"I'd love to see us be able to put forth that type of effort, be patient on the offensive end of the floor, less the turnovers and get the shot attempts. I thought we did a good job of that. We played against a really physical basketball team last night. So, I'm hopeful that we can build off of last night's game going forward. I think our guys see what we're capable of doing when we play that way."
On Johnny O'Bryant's big night ...
"One of the things we talk about is playing inside outside. Most teams have kind of doubled us, or sent two people at Johnny (O'Bryant). He's always been the focal point for the scouting report in the opposing team's defense. Last night they kind of mixed up their defense toward him. I thought he was patient, read it well, made the right reads and the right plays last night. Most of his action was at the basket, which allowed him to get fouled, and it allowed us to get into the foul count earlier so we could get into the one and one count, which is important for us."
On playing teams for the second time this season ...
"I thought here at home we had some good moments against South Carolina and played well in spots. I thought they were better in the last two minutes of regulation and certainly in the overtime. Our mission was to make sure that we went out there and tried to take the positive moments of that game and have more of them. I thought we were able to do that. We didn't allow them to make a late run like they were able to here. We were able to hold them at bay, and I think that was the difference in the game. The Mississippi State game won't be any different. It was a hard fought battle there. I think they've played three really tough basketball games since we played them. I think they've played Ole Miss, Florida and Missouri, three teams in the top tier of our conference right now. So, we can't take anybody lightly. We know we're going to have to go out there and play well, because they're obviously trying to make sure that they get on the other side of the column."
On the benefits for the rest of the team when Johnny O'Bryant is playing well ...
"I think the good thing is, when Johnny (O'Bryant) is playing that well it probably makes it easier for our guys to score. I think even more attention will be geared towards Johnny, and it will allow our other guys to get better looks from the outside, because depending on where their rotation will come from in terms of their double downs or trying to send two people at Johnny. It's up to our offense to really read that. I think it could benefit us even more for our perimeter guys in the future."
On scoring being shared throughout the team ...
"I don't really like to go in with any preconceived idea of where all of our points come from. I like when we really have a good, balanced scoring attack because it allows for everybody to really be involved. At the same time, if the game presents itself that way for (Anthony) Hickey to score that would be great for us. The same thing for (Andre) Stringer if that's what the game should play out or presents itself. So, I don't want guys being hesitant one way or the other, in terms of being able to play. I think if we are balanced it's so much better for us."
On other post players having success due to Johnny O'Bryant attracting the attention of defenders ...
"I think Drew (Del Piero), especially the plays that he made, one of them was off of a rebound put back, another may have just been a regular offensive rebound, then the other he scored out of one of our offensive sets. They threw it to him down on the block, and because there was no double team that came he was able to play out of it over the top and made some big plays. He actually made two or three big plays in traffic that were not really so much related to people showing more attention to Johnny last night, which was a big plus for us. That's what he had done early in the year. It's not something we report or we don't feel the need to come in here and give you guys excuses or anything, but Drew has had viruses. Some days he's had to miss practice, and this was just in the last few weeks. So, we weren't able to play him and put him out there on the floor. He couldn't play extended minutes, so when those kind of things happen our rotation was shortened even more."
On playing hard from beginning to end ...
"Well, the good thing for these guys is I think they understand what playing hard is and the difference in the effort that you're giving. So, when you put forth that effort in the Florida game, or say for instance when we played Missouri or a combination of any of those games, the sense of urgency that you play with on the front end. If you're playing someone with a record mimicking or looking somewhat like ours, that sense of urgency may not have been there on the onset and going into halftime. I think realizing the position we were in, we played with a little bit more of a sense of urgency in the second half. So, I thought they gave some effort, but probably not the type of effort that they were capable of giving. I though last night we came out and played with a sense of urgency from tip to finish. I thought that was the difference in the game for us."
On whether it was a sigh of relief to have such a big lead going into the last couple minutes of the game ...
"Unfortunately for me, in the last two minutes I was still looking up at the clock because I know in this game anything can happen. Somebody can knock down a couple of threes and it changes the complexion of the game, or you get a couple of bad turnovers. Some other folks may have been able to relax, but until under a minute I thought we were in good shape because they had backed off and weren't pressuring us defensively at that time. So, I knew, clock management wise, we should be okay."
On the team's approach to post season at this point ...
"I try to address more for us right now is about seeding in the conference tournament. That's what you're really playing for now. I think that's got to be your focus, and once you get in the tournament then you try and set your sights on something else. You give yourselves different little goals out there like that. I think with some teams you can put the goals out there and they're too big and you're shooting for the wrong thing, or your approach is a little bit different. I think right now where we're sitting, seeding is important for the conference tournament. When we get to the conference tournament then playing and winning there. Teams that we're playing can give us the opportunity for some postseason play. I think in due time we'll talk about that, but right now it's all about our seeding in the conference tournament. I think numbers wise we may be eliminated from winning the conference outright with the way that Florida is playing. So, we'll just have to channel our energies in the right direction."