NEW ORLEANS - The LSU men's basketball team had five players register double figures sparked by Johnny O'Bryant III's game-leading 18 points and 11 rebounds to claim an impressive 70-54 SEC Tournament Opening Round victory over Arkansas Thursday at the New Orleans Arena.
The Tigers (18-13) outscored the Razorbacks by a 42-26 margin during the second half.
LSU advances to face No. 1 Kentucky (30-1) Friday in the quarterfinals. Tip-off is slated for 12 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by affiliates of the SEC Network along with ESPN3.com.
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will carry the game on 100.7 FM (The Tiger) in the Baton Rouge area and its network affiliates which include the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Kevin Ford and Ricky Blanton will call the action with the pregame show set to begin 30 minutes prior to tipoff.
In the process, LSU ended a three-game season losing streak and a three-game losing skid in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers also have won 23 of their 29 games in the Crescent City since January 1988.
LSU buried 50 percent of its shots, 25-of-50, to match its second-highest field goal percentage output of the season. As a team, the Tigers recorded 15 assists on 25 field goals. LSU also dominated the glass en route to a 41-28 rebounding edge and has won 15 of 18 games on the season when winning the battle of the boards.
LSU's defense also locked up Arkansas to a 19-of-53 clip, including a 4-of-16 ratio from three-point territory. The 54 points for the Razorbacks (18-14) were a season-low, 18 below their season average. The Tigers improved to 15-1 during the season when holding the opponent under the 60-point plateau.
Tied 28-28 at halftime, LSU took control of the contest by scoring 10 of the first 12 points of the second half. The run was ignited by an Andre Stringer three-ball followed by three points from Storm Warren and a Justin Hamilton lay-up. An Anthony Hickey steal and transition lay-up capped the spurt to make it 38-30 at the 15:57 mark.
Arkansas got as close as five points, 44-39, on a B.J. Young jumper with 11:50 remaining. The Tigers answered with nine consecutive points over the next 4:04 on the clock. LSU forced the Razorbacks into five straight misses. A pair of Stringer free throws vaulted the Tigers to a 53-39 advantage with 7:46 left.
LSU led by double figures the rest of way by doubles figures to close out the 70-54 triumph.
O'Bryant III racked up 11 of his game-high 18 points at the free throw line. It marked his second-highest point total of his career falling three points shy of a 21-point performance against Northwestern back on November 17. His 11 boards also allowed him to compile his third double-double of the season.
On the interior, O'Bryant III was joined by strong efforts from Warren and Hamilton. The duo chipped in 14 and 10, respectively, and secured seven rebounds apiece.
Hickey, All-SEC Freshman Team performer, dished out seven assists to equal his career-high. He also notched seven points, three rebounds and two steals.
Stringer and Ralston Turner knocked down 7-of-13 from the field fueled by a quintet of triples. Stringer handed out three assists to go along with his 11 points, while Turner collected a career-high eight rebounds in addition to seven of his 10 points during the opening half.
Young totaled 13 points to pace Arkansas. After nine points in the opening 20 minutes, Mardracus Wade was held scoreless on one shot during the second stanza.
by Kent Lowe
Noting from the New Orleans Arena after LSU's strong 70-54 win over Arkansas that hopefully strengthened LSU's case for a post-season tournament bid...
From the Arc, From the Line
The Tigers shot 50 percent from the three-point range for the second straight game, making six of-12. Three players made threes (Hickey 1, Stringer 3 and Turner 2). Turner has made 45 for the season, Hickey 44 and Stringer 41 ... The trio has made 130 of LSU's 163 treys this season ... LSU was 9-of-17 in the regular season finale at Auburn and 20-of-42 over the last three games.
LSU, however, for the second straight game was under 60 percent at the line. After making 9-of-17 at the stripe at Auburn, LSU was 14-of-25 against the Razorbacks for 56 percent. LSU has been under 60 percent at the stripe in three of the previous four games and is now at 68.8 percent for the season.
Success Continues in New Orleans
The Tigers, did, however, continue its success in the city some 70 miles down the road from New Orleans. LSU is now 23-6 in games played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and New Orleans Arena and 85-61 all-time in New Orleans games. LSU is 3-2 in SEC Tournaments in New Orleans and evened its tournament record with Arkansas at 2-2 after beating them also in their last first round meeting in New Orleans in the 2003 tournament.
Commissioner Mike Slive and Dean Day of Allstate presented former star LSU point guard Kenny Higgs of Owensboro, Ky., with his Allstate SEC Basketball Legend Award at halftime of the LSU-Arkansas game.
Each SEC basketball legend will be recognized at halftime of his institution's first game at the tournament. Highlighting the schedule of events at the Sunkist Soda SEC FanFare will be appearances by selected legends.
A three-time All-SEC selection that played from 1975-78, Higgs was known early in his career at LSU as a great scorer, but he finished it known as one of the best playmakers around. He is LSU's all-time assist leader with 645 (6.1 per game) and he ranks 10th in school history with a scoring average of 17.9 points per game. His 1,896 career points ranks seventh in school history and his 522 free throws made are second on the LSU charts.
Hickey Wants To Follow Higgs
They both are from Kentucky and freshman Anthony Hickey is putting up assist numbers that will put him high on LSU's assist chart if he keeps this going for four years.
Hickey had his third game against an SEC foe with seven assists Thursday (the others against Ole Miss in January and at South Carolina in February) as he had seven assists and three turnovers to go with seven points in 36 minutes. Hickey has 117 assists for the season and 59 turnovers, an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 which is third in the SEC. He also has 62 steals and is ranked third in the league in that category.
13-0; 15-1; 4-1
LSU is now 13-0 in the four years under Trent Johnson when LSU shoots 50 percent from the floor or better ... LSU was 25-of-50 from the field on the afternoon against the Razorbacks ... LSU is 3-0 this season when shooting 50 percent from the field.
The game marks the 16th time this season that LSU held an opponent under 60 points and the Tigers now are 15-1 in those games, the only loss coming in a 57-52 loss to No. 21 Virginia on Jan. 2 ... LSU has held six SEC teams under 60 points with a 6-0 record.
Finally, the Tigers brought out the Gold uniforms in New Orleans and the Tigers are now 4-1 this year in those uniforms.
Well, it didn't take long for the fact that the Tiger coaches were in coat and tie rather than the sweater vests the Tiger coaching staff has been wearing all year to come up in the post-game. Coach Trent Johnson remarked: "Yeah, well, we're not very superstitious in the coaching profession, so those sweater vests weren't working the past two weeks, so we thought we would just wear a suit. That had a lot to do with it. So the Tigers are now 1-0 in games in which they don't wear a sweater vest."
LSU is now 23-32 since the renewal of the SEC Tournament and the Tigers have won their first game they played no matter the round in 16 of 34 tournaments ... The Tigers will play Kentucky Friday for the chance to go to the semifinals for the 26th time in tournament history, 15th since the renewal ... Johnny O'Bryant III's double double of 18 points and 11 rebounds was his second of the season ... O'Bryant had 11 rebounds in his only previous meeting with the Razorbacks ... It is the ninth time an LSU player has had 11 rebounds or more in a game this season ... O'Bryant also becomes the first LSU player to make 10 free throws in a game this year ...