BATON ROUGE - The trio of Anthony Hickey, Johnny O'Bryant III and Andre Stringer combined to rack up 52 points to vault the LSU men's basketball team to a thrilling 73-70 upset victory over No. 17 Missouri Wednesday at the Maravich Center.
LSU (11-7, 2-5 SEC) led wire-to-wire and notched its first win over a Top 25 opponent during the Johnny Jones era. The Tigers executed for a season-high 55.6 shooting clip and made 25-of-45 from the floor.
Missouri (15-5, 4-3 SEC) countered with 23-for-61 shooting effort and has dropped all five of its true road games this season.
Hickey erupted for a team-leading 20 points, one shy of a career-high, on 9-of-17 shooting. It marked the 10th straight outing that Hickey has collected double figures. He also tacked on four assists and two steals.
Stringer ripped off 18 points, his second highest output of the season. The junior guard also converted on all six of his free throws and secured a season's high five rebounds.
O'Bryant III garnered his fourth consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also handed out a career-high three assists.
The trio missed only a combined five minutes of action between them, and the 39 minutes logged by Stringer was a career-best.
Mizzou was sparked by Phil Pressey's 25 points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds. Jabari Brown and Laurence Bowers chipped 19 and 10 points, respectively. Brown played a key role to Missouri's attempted comeback and drained four of his five three-pointers in the second half.
During the opening moments of the second half, LSU built on its 13-point halftime advantage and matched its largest lead after Hickey converted a steal into a lay-up to make it 46-30 at the 17:26 mark.
Missouri fired back with 12 quick points over the next 3:02 to draw back to 46-42. Pressey ripped off eight straight points aided by a trio of lay-ups to highlight the run.
Out of timeout, LSU turned to Hickey. He buried two mid-range jumpers sandwiched between a deep triple to lift the Tigers back ahead by a 53-42 margin with 12:18 remaining.
Missouri made another flurry and limited LSU to only three field goals over a nine-minute stretch. A Pressey runner with 3:38 to go made it a one-possession game at 61-58.
Missouri had an opportunity to inch closer on its next possession, but Carmouche stripped Pressey. He found Hickey on an outlet to start the fastbreak, and Hickey dished it to Stringer in stride. Stringer canned a three-pointer on the left wing and was fouled by Pressey. He converted the four-point play to a standing ovation and extended LSU's lead to 65-58 with 3:02 on the clock.
Missouri charged back to within two points on four occasions over the final 66 seconds. LSU made the key plays down the stretch which included two Stringer free throws and an O'Bryant dunk off a press breaker eight seconds apart.
Missouri hung tough and was unable to covert on its two opportunities to tie inside the final 15 seconds which enabled LSU to wrap up the 73-70 triumph.
LSU came out firing on all cylinders and made six of its first 10 attempts to build a 17-6 advantage at the 13:26 mark of the first half. Stringer broke a 6-6 tie and knocked down a trio of free throws to spark 11 straight LSU points followed by thunderous dunks from Carmouche and O'Bryant III.
An O'Bryant jumper with 4:15 remaining lengthened the LSU advantage to 35-19 with 4:15 remaining. Missouri responded with seven of the next 10 points, but LSU was able to take a 39-26 edge into the locker room.
LSU heads back on the road Saturday for the first of two meetings with Mississippi State over a 14-day span. Tip time is slated for 4:30 p.m. CT from Humphrey Coliseum, and the game will carried live by the Fox Sports Network. An online version of the telecast will be available via www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
LSU's next home game will be next Wednesday, February 6 as Vanderbilt visits the Maravich Center. Tickets can be purchased online at LSUtix.net or by calling the LSU Athletics Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184.
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.
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 COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening Statement ...
"I'm really excited for not only our basketball team, but for our fans. I thought it was a great opportunity for us tonight against a Top 20 team. I thought our guys did an excellent job from the tip to really trying to finish off the game tonight. I thought we got off to a great start, which we needed. I thought our guys played extremely confidently. They did a great job in terms of sharing the basketball and making shots early on. They did an excellent job of defending in the second half knowing that Missouri, a great basketball team, talented, would make their runs. I'm just glad that our team was able to sustain that effort, make some plays down the stretch and come out with a victory tonight."
On playing with a big lead ...
"I was just hoping that we could continue to execute at the pace we were, knowing that they were going to make a run and make a move. Those guys understand how to play. They've been there before. They've been together for a long time, and they have a very experienced basketball team. I was just happy there at the end. I was hoping we could execute at the free throw line like we needed to. Unfortunately, we gave up some offensive rebounds on the other end and missed a couple of free throws. But at the same time, I thought it was a gutsy effort for our guys to at least finish the game that way."
"It was great, and I think it gave us an opportunity to try to manage the game. I thought it was really good for our guys to understand that we got a lot of that because of our ball movement. I thought they played extremely confidently. It's a much better felling of playing on that side of it than on the other side where you're fighting to get back and expending a lot of energy to get back into the game. They were on the other side of it tonight."
On calling the timeout after Missouri's 12-0 run ...
"I thought we were just able to settle down a little bit, talk about why we got that lead and understand how we need to get back out there and execute. We had to be patient and remind our guys that they're going to make their run. It happened, and now it's our time. I told them we need to win these next four minutes. I thought our guys came out. Hickey did an excellent job of making some plays. We opened up the floor and he really executed well. I think we got either a steal or some rebounds and got some easy scoring opportunities. We shot our lead back up. I think they cut it to four at one time, but we built a lead back up. Those things happen. I thought our guys did an excellent job of responding after the timeout."
On what he told the team at halftime ...
Well, it was really good. One, I just came in and told them that I thought they played really well in the first half. Really good defensively holding them to just 26 percent from the field. I thought offensively we had played well at the time. It was encouraging hearing our guys talk about how we need to play like we're 13 down instead of 13 up. That was encouraging. So, they had a real good understanding of where we were so I didn't have to tell them how to play. Then, it was about coming out and trying to win that first five minutes after the half."
On playing in front of the strong showing of students tonight ...
"It was really good to see that type of student section out there for us tonight. They gave our guys a great deal of energy. It was exciting to get over there after the game and high five that group afterwards. It was kind of an emotional thing, not only for myself but for our players to see our students buying in and being engaging in that way. We want them to have ownership in our team and feel special about it. Hopefully, we did what we needed to do tonight to bring them back out there on a consistent basis."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
Guard Anthony Hickey
On what factors contributed to getting the win...
"For one, we're back at home. The crowd got us into it toward the beginning. Before the game, we huddled up and said we haven't had our best game yet. We were able to just work as a team and get the lead up in the first half."
On his stretch in the second half scoring seven straight points...
"I just talked to my team and said that we were going to take whatever they were going to give us. We were able to get great open shots. We weren't able to hit them toward the beginning of the season, but we knocked them down this game. We're going to keep moving forward."
Guard Andre Stringer
On winning this close game...
"It was a tight game. They have a great team. We've been in a lot of tight games this year. We were finally able to put things together and pull this one out."
On his four-point play in the final minutes...
"I think it was a great confidence-builder for our team. [Anthony] Hickey drove down, and their player was taking the lane away. I just stepped behind the three-point line, and I saw [Phil] Pressey come behind me, so I just followed through and hit my follow-through. Luckily, he fouled me. It went in, and that got the crowd into it."
Forward Johnny O'Bryant III
On his dunk late in the game to break the Missouri press...
"I communicated with Coach [Johnny] Jones - he told me to go long. I saw that the [defender] wasn't ready for it so I just took off. Charles [Carmouche] made a good pass, and I just finished the play."
Missouri Coach Frank Haith Quotes
On the game plan in the last three minutes of the game...
"We were driving the ball, and we needed to keep driving the ball. There was so much time in the game with timeouts, and we settled for some bad shots. We had some bad turnovers. We are trying to win a game. You can't make those kind of plays when you are trying to win a game."
On Keion Bell's injury...
"Keion nicked his shoulder up in practice. He went and got it checked out. There was no sprain, strain or structure disorder. He was hurting bad to play. He said it just hurt to bad to play."
On what is happening during the first halves...
"I don't know, but we have to figure it out. I think that we have no toughness in the first half. It's disappointing. It's extremely disappointing. Alex (Oriakhi) can't stay on the floor when we are on the road, and that hurts us. He gets fouls on the road and then comes out of the game. That's not good for us. He has to learn to play without fouling on the road."
On offensive rebounding during the second half...
"It is all about effort. Rebounding is effort. Offensive rebounding is all about effort. You have to go and play with some effort. We had better effort in the second half than the first half."
On the players having more trust in each other...
"It is all about trust. We take quick shots instead of executing offensively. We don't need guys trying to do more than just run the offense. That is all I want from them. Run the offense."
On how tough Hickey played during the second half...
"He is a good player. That position has really killed us on the road. You can go back and look at it. We haven't been able to defend the point guard position, and we have to get better at it. You go back and look at Ole Miss and Florida. That position has really hurt us."
MISSOURI PLAYER QUOTES
FORWARD LAURENCE BOWERS
On tonight's game...
"Obviously, we didn't start out the way we wanted to. We have to get better in that aspect of the game. As far as my health, I was fine. I was just happy to be back out there with my guys. I just have to continue to get better."
On the team's success in the second half...
"We rallied together. We made big defensive plays. (LSU) went back on a run, and we never could respond. We have to get a lot better at responding to adversity.
On mistakes toward the end of the game...
"(LSU) didn't press, and we didn't press, so that is no excuse. We just didn't execute. It bit us, and we lost. We just didn't do what we needed to do."
GUARD JABARI BROWN
On tonight's game...
"It's frustrating. We just have to put this one behind us and keep moving. The season is not over. We can't focus on these losses too long. We have another game to play."
On reasons for the struggles tonight...
"I don't make any excuses. I don't feel like there should be any excuses. We just didn't execute the way we needed to. We made some mistakes at the end that cost us the game."