Men's Basketball
LSU's Anthony Hickey
Photo by:Chris Kelty, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Men's Basketball Travels to Rematch Kentucky
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Published: February 21, 2014, 09:30 AM (CT)
Updated: February 21, 2014, 09:27 AM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The LSU men’s basketball has packed its bags again and takes its act on the road to Rupp Arena here Saturday for a Southeastern Conference rematch with the University of Kentucky.

The game is set for 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST) on ESPN with Mark Jones and Jimmy Dykes on the call. The radio broadcast with Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and studio host Kevin Ford will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (listed below) along with the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

The Tigers are 16-9 and 7-6 in the SEC, while Kentucky comes in ranked 18th in the Associated Press poll (16th in the coach’s poll) at 20-6 and 10-3 and in second place in the SEC.

This will be the second meeting between the two schools as one of the five teams that the Tigers will play home and away games with this season. LSU, on an icy night in Baton Rouge on Jan. 28, jumped on the Wildcats early and ended up with an 87-82 victory. It was LSU’s first victory over Kentucky since 2009. The teams played last year once at Rupp Arena with Kentucky leading most of the way before LSU got within one point in the final minute before falling, 75-70.

In the first meeting with the Wildcats, Johnny O'Bryant III for LSU had the second best game of his career with 29 points to go with nine rebounds. Senior Shavon Coleman had 14 points and five assists while Jordan Mickey had 14 points, nine boards and five blocks. LSU shot 50.8 percent (32-63) with 15 assists, 11 blocks and 11 steals.

Kentucky is led by Julius Randle with a scoring average at 16.0 points, followed by James Young (14.3), Aaron Harrison (13.5) and Andre Harrison (11.3) all in double figures.

LSU is expected to go with the four-forward lineup that made its debut during the first meeting with the Wildcats – O’Bryant III, Mickey, Coleman and Jarell Martin, who has been in double figures five of the last six games since the Kentucky game – and point guard Anthony Hickey.

LSU head coach Johnny Jones met with the media prior to the team’s departure for Lexington and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“I thought our guys did a great job last night in the basketball game. We had an opportunity to get some contributions from a lot of guys on the basketball team. That’s one of the areas we’ve been excited about all year long, and that’s the same thing we will have to have from our guys Saturday in the environment we will be in at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. We are going to have to make sure we get great contributions from different guys because of the way the game will be played. They are a very good basketball team, one of the top teams in the country. They are very talented. We are certainly going to have to make sure we have balanced activity from everyone, not only scoring, but defending, rebounding and making sure that we are helping each other. It’s going to have to be a great team effort Saturday.”

On playing zone last time versus Kentucky and mixing it up…
“I think it will be different for them. Certainly, they will be much more prepared for the zone this time around because of their scouting report. Last time we played them, the adjustments we were able to make, they will be sensitive to that. That will be something that they will certainly be prepared for, and we have got to make sure that we are adjusting and doing what we need to do to prevent easy scoring opportunities for them.”

On how Kentucky has improved this season…
“They are a young basketball team that’s continuing to grow and have won a lot of basketball games. When you’re that talented, each game, you just have a tendency of getting better. They are learning each other and learning how to play with each other. I think you can look at their game against Florida where they played a great basketball game. I don’t think the score is an indicator of how close that basketball game was. Then, they played at Ole Miss after coming off of that setback. When you look at that team, it’s improvement because Ole Miss played them in a very close game at Rupp Arena.”

On Anthony Hickey playing in his home state of Kentucky…
“Last year, we only had them once. This year, he played well in that game. I think it’s only normal and natural being from the state of Kentucky for him probably growing up watching Kentucky and Louisville basketball. That environment when he gets home, I’m sure his family will have an opportunity to watch him play. I’m sure there’s an emotional charge for him in this game.”

On Johnny O'Bryant III staying out of foul trouble…
“I wish I knew the secret formula to that. I think Johnny just has to go out and really play. We don’t want him to be hesitant. We want him to be the aggressor that he’s been all year long on both ends of the floor. Hopefully that happens. He’s had several games this year where he hadn’t been in foul trouble, but if Johnny is playing hesitant and not at his best and worrying, then I think that takes away from his floor game and his activity. That won’t allow him to be the best that he can be.”

On his team’s confidence going back on the road…
“I think that they’re very confident. We’ve been in some very close and hard-fought battles on the road. You’re just looking for that next opportunity to go out and play. Hopefully perform well and make plays down the stretch or throughout the game that’s going to give you an opportunity to be successful. I think our guys are always excited for the next opportunity when we have games.”

On how often he mentions the first game against Kentucky to his team…
“I think you have to use what you can from it. Our guys have to be excited that they’ve had success, so you understand the possibilities that are there if you play well. You do a lot of things that you did last time that worked for you, execute well and do things on the defensive end that were helpful for us. You can point to those things, but you have to understand that there are going to be times where you just have to be that much better the second time around playing a team of that caliber on their floor to have success.”

On the youth in college basketball booming…
“When you look at Kentucky, I think their win-loss record is great. (Willie) Cauley-Stein and those guys that were there last year have helped be the nucleus of their team with the new guys that they have, (Julius) Randle, the twins (Aaron and Andrew Harrison) and (James) Young. When you have quality guys like that, it’s no microwave deal here. I think you have to understand how important it is that things have to be done the right way over a period of time for you to be playing at the rate that you want to, to play against the type of competition that you have to late in the season to win. I don’t think Kentucky is any different. I think they’ve had some battles this year and some setbacks, but I think they’ve been able to grow from those setbacks and become a better team. ”

On how the team is progressing and developing…
“It is hard to say because if we are sitting here with two or three more wins we would say we are ahead of schedule. Where we are right now, we feel like we are in great shape and have had some tough battles. We certainly could have won a game or two more. When you look at the schedule we have, we have some wins that could have been setbacks as well. I think when you look at it we are probably on par.  At this point of the season, we certainly have some other challenges ahead.”

On guys liking the big environment games…
“We have had the fortune of playing well in big games. We lost to Kentucky by five last year and played well in Arkansas. Our guys have performed well in the big environments that we play in year in and year out. In terms of growth, unfortunately we haven’t won, but we did play really well in those environments. You have to continue to do that and good things will happen for you. You have to compete and then we won’t get overshadowed by the environment.”

On building a program seeing the big picture…
“I think you put the big picture out there, but we concentrate the most on what is in front of us. The most important game on our schedule is the next one and that proponent that’s right there in front of us. You certainly have to put the big picture out there in front us because there has to be forms of motivation for us at the end of the day. You talk about controlling your own destiny and we still have an opportunity to do that. We have two seniors out there that have been on the floor a lot for us in the past couple of years. You have to explain to them that this is no test run. This is the real thing.  We have to make the best of it now. You have to take advantages of your opportunity. They understand the magnitude of that.”

Saturday's LSU Sports Radio Network Affiliates

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

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