Men's Basketball
LSU Men's Basketball
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Men's Basketball Travels for Rematch with Arkansas
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Published: February 14, 2014, 05:30 AM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The LSU men’s basketball team looks to find the missing ingredient of road play again as the Tigers travel here to Bud Walton Arena Saturday for the second meeting of the year between the two teams.

The game, a rematch of LSU’s 88-74 win over Arkansas two Saturday’s ago, will be televised on ESPNU with Tom Hart and Jon Sundvold on the call.  Jim Hawthorne and Ricky Blanton, along with studio host Kevin Ford, will have the game on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM, Baton Rouge; KSYL 970 AM, Alexandria; WBOX 92.9 FM, Bogalusa; KFNV 107.1 FM, Ferriday; KJIN 1490 AM/KCIL 96.7 FM, Houma; KJNA 102.7 FM, Jena; KLWB 103.7 FM, Lafayette; KXZZ 1580 AM, Lake Charles;  KJAE 93.5 FM, Leesville; KMLB 540 AM, Monroe; KFRA 1390AM, Morgan City; KWLV 107.1 FM Natchitoches; WWL 870 AM/105.3 FM, New Orleans; KRUS 1490 AM, Ruston; KWKH 1130 AM, Shreveport; KTJZ 97.5 FM, Tallulah; WFCG 107.3 FM, Tylertown, MS; KVPI 1050 AM, Ville Platte).

The contest will also be available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.

LSU is 15-8 and 6-5 in the SEC, presently in a tie for fifth with Tennessee, while Arkansas, a one-point loser Thursday night at Missouri, is now 15-9 and 4-7 in the league. While LSU has lost four straight road games in the SEC and is 1-4 in league road games, Arkansas is 3-2 at Bud Walton in home games in the SEC and will be pulling out all the stops Saturday honoring the Razorback Final Four teams as well as presenting a special jersey to former President of the United States and Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton.

LSU is coming off an 83-73 loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday night in which the Aggies made 10 treys and held off any second half rallies from the Tigers after LSU fell behind by six at the half. Senior Shavon Coleman had his best game of the season with 21 points. LSU junior Johnny O'Bryant III had 15 points and enters the Arkansas game just 10 points away from being the 40th LSU player to score 1,000 career points and the 21st to have 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.

Arkansas trailed Thursday, 38-32, at the half and overcame two 11-point deficits to get the lead back against Missouri, but the host Tigers were able to sneak ahead in the final seconds to get the win, 86-85. Rashad Madden had 17 points to lead Arkansas while Alandise Harris had 16 and Bobby Portis 15.The game featured 50 fouls and 75 combined free throws with Missouri going 34-of-38 at the line, compared to 29-of-37 for Arkansas.

LSU Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Thursday and here are some of his comments about his team’s upcoming game:

Opening Statement…
“A tough setback for us (Wednesday) night there in College Station. We played a team that came out and shot the ball probably as well as they have all year long, knocking down 10 threes and hitting a high percentage from the field. They made some big plays down the stretch each time we made a run. We have a tough game coming up on Saturday so we quickly have to get that one behind us. Hopefully, we will be able to get better in the areas where we have concern. Defensively, we need to be prepared for a very good, solid Arkansas basketball team that’s got two wins under their belt in a row with one on the road and one there at home (entering Thursday’s game at Missouri). They have a lot of great festivities lined up this weekend which will create a great atmosphere for a college basketball game there in Fayetteville.”

On the defensive play…
“I think it’s just one of those areas where we have to continue to improve. That’s something that goes on all year long – containing and keeping your guys in front of you. When that doesn’t happen, your teammates are rotating and getting to the right places on the floor. Teams are going to get shots. You just have to make sure it’s out of the paint, and we’re not doing that. We’re certainly not rotating to the point to where we are comfortable night in and night out against certain schemes that people are running offensively.”

On the matchups defensively…
“I think it’s just a combination of all of the above. At the same time when we switch, you still get caught in situations where you have to contain. That’s the biggest area of concern is just making sure that we keep people in front of us and making sure that we’re helping at the same time because it’s hard. It’s not a 1-on-1 game out there; it’s 5-on-5. You just have to make sure that you are comfortable and that your teammates are going to be where they need to on the floor if you happen to be driven on. When that happens and we do get in the proper places, sometimes we’re giving up offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities at the same time. We were hit with that last night. I think they got 12 offensive rebounds. At the same time, when we did help, they made some pitch passes and their guys knocked down 3-pointers – something that we weren’t counting on them to be able to do at the rate they did last night.”

On finishing out the rest of the season strong…
“Well, each game that passes – that’s another game behind us and another opportunity for us. To be a good road team and get wins, you have to be a really good basketball team. That’s what we are striving for. We think that we’ve made some positive strides, but we haven’t gotten to the area yet away from home playing at that level that you have to be able to raise your level. Teams are going to play well at home. Texas A&M hadn’t shot the ball well. They were shooting about 39 percent, averaging I think 59 points a game. They got 83 against us last night at home because they are in their comfort (zone). You have to be a very good basketball team when you leave home to be able to do that on a consistent basis, and that’s what we are striving for.”

On believing his team can get comfortable away from home…
“Absolutely – two or three minutes left in the game last night, we were down eight or nine points, and I was still thinking we would win the basketball game. At some point, we’ll get stops; they’ll miss some shots that we need; we score 70 or 80 points and win the basketball game. That didn’t materialize last night for us.”

On Johnny O’Bryant III foul trouble…
“I didn’t think we fell apart last night, I thought we played well when Johnny was out. We didn’t have a problem scoring, and that’s generally where we would have some concerns. We went up eight points when he was out. They made a little run when he went out, but we recovered and got it up to an 8-point lead. Defensively, that shouldn’t be much of a concern inside for us because of how we need to play, but it just didn’t happen. Offensively we have been pretty good, we still scored 73 points last night with Johnny (O’Bryant III) only playing 26 minutes, but I think he went to the bench with 12 or so minutes on the clock (in the first half) last night.  I thought he was efficient and played well. Our guys were able to keep it up. Johnny is not the problem, but he unfortunately had gotten fouls, some questionable. He was in a rhythm. With the lead we had, we may have been able to extend it because of the presence he had on the floor offensively.  We don’t know because we didn’t have him the whole first half after he picked up that second foul.”

On the difference in three-point shooting by the opponents this year…
“We didn’t play a zone last year, mostly a man team. You take that team last night, they hadn’t been shooting the ball well outside and people play zone against them. Last night, they hit 10 threes. (Jamal) Jones hit five threes and (Davonte) Fitzgerald hit three before he went out in the first half. We have to do a better job of guarding the line, but teams that normally don’t shoot well from out there have shot well against us. Alabama knocked down shots against us, and they haven’t been a good three-point shooting team until we played them.  That’s something that unfortunately happens, and it happened to us at the wrong time.”

On trying something different in the future...
“We are who we are. We are a man team on the defensive end at times. We have implemented some zone that we have started playing because it helps with our matchups and allows us to put certain people out on the floor that we can have defend a certain way and have those guys on the offensive end of the floor as well. There is not a whole lot that we can change outside of attitude, mentality and understanding of the sense of urgency that you have to play with every second of every play. We have to be locked in that way. That’s the area we really have to work on. We have been there at times. We have done a good job but you have to be that way throughout – not just as an individual but as a team. When we get that way as a team night in and night out we will be better. That’s a process, unfortunately for us, we haven’t been there on a consistent basis.”

On playing at Arkansas…
“It is going to be an unbelievable atmosphere; it is one of the best in college basketball.  They do a tremendous job with their fans and creating the type of atmosphere you need for a great home crowd. On top of that, they are inviting the Final Four and National Championship teams back along with former President Clinton as well. If we aren’t enough for them to create the atmosphere, they have some other incentives. That’s what you come to college for and that’s why you come to LSU – to play in those types of environments and compete at the highest level.”

 

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