BATON ROUGE – Letdown? Forget about it.
The LSU men's basketball team showed no signs of a letdown from an emotional win over No. 11 Kentucky on Tuesday, taking it to Arkansas from the very beginning in an 88-74 win over the Razorbacks Saturday before another loud and ever expanding crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The win was the fourth straight time the Tigers have won at home and the fourth win in the last five games as LSU ran its record to 14-6 and 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference, while Arkansas, which had to go with two players who were suspended and did not make the trip to Baton Rouge, fell to 13-8 and 2-6 in the league.
LSU for the second straight game shot over 50 percent from the floor, hitting 35-of-64 shots for 54.7 percent while the Razorbacks were limited to just 32.8 percent (21-of-64). While both teams made seven treys, LSU hit 14 more shots to overcome a 25-of-27 night at the line for the Razorbacks.
LSU again went in the paint to help pound the Razorbacks into submission with a 48-24 advantage, but Arkansas was able to take advantage of LSU's 14 turnovers with a 23-10 margin on points off turnovers.
That was what allowed Arkansas to cut a second half 20-point lead down to six in the second half before LSU regained control of the game.
Junior Johnny O'Bryant III made it back-to-back 20-point games and he teamed with Jordan Mickey for a combined 45 points, 20 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 blocks. Both recorded their fifth consecutive double figure scoring game for the Tigers. O'Bryant III had 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and 1 block in 34 minutes, while Mickey had 22 points, 11 rebounds (his sixth double double) on 9-of-17 shooting with two assists and six blocks (nine games this season).
Arkansas was led by Rashad Madden with 17 points (8-8 FT line), Bobby Portis and Kikko Haydar with 15 each (three treys) and Coty Clarke with 10.
LSU out rebounded Arkansas, 45-33. The Tigers had a season-high equaling 22 assists to go with nine blocks.
For the second straight game, the Tigers never trailed, the second straight game in which LSU did not give up the lead. The only tie in either game was at the start of the Kentucky game when it was tied at 2-2.
The Tigers came out strong jumping on the Razorbacks early as Martin hit a three that again gave LSU the advantage from the beginning. Hickey hit a three to make it 10-4 and LSU got its first double digit lead when O'Bryant III hit a jumper for a 16-6 advantage.
O'Bryant III continued his hot play of late in the first half with 12 points in the first 15 minutes as LSU built as much as a 20-point lead, 31-11, with 6:19 on an O'Bryant III field goal.
LSU was able to sustain the lead in the half, shooting some 48 percent in the opening 16 minutes while the Razorbacks were just over 23 percent. .
The Tigers led by a score of 40-25 at the half.
The second half continued in the same vein for LSU with Mickey and Martin joining O'Bryant III in the double figure scoring parade in the first four minutes as LSU continued to hold the lead at 15 with 16:39 to go.
But Arkansas got a run going and off a three-pointer and a steal and lay in cut the game to 10 at 48-38. The Razorbacks again took advantage of LSU mistakes to take the lead to eight, 51-43, on the Razorbacks fourth three of the game, this time by Haydar. But Malik Morgan off the bench got a three of his own on his first attempt and then Stringer hit another three to make it 57-43 with 12:26 to go in the game. Hickey got a steal and gave it to Stringer who laid it in and Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson was forced to call a timeout with 11:57 left and the Tigers back up 59-43 as LSU scored eight straight points in 57 seconds.
The Tigers would continue to advance the lead back to 20, 70-50, with 9:09 to play on a Morgan bucket.
But the short-handed Razorbacks would not go quietly getting the lead under double digits with an 11-0 run, 70-61, with 6:32 to play. The teams traded baskets on a Mickey dunk and Portis layup and then Arkansas stole the ball as the Razorbacks cut the lead to seven, 72-65, with 5:20 to play as the run spread to 15-2 over a 3:11 time span.
JOB III scored on a turnaround in the paint to make it 74-65 as the clock turned under three minutes but Wade hit a three to cut it down to six, 74-68. Martin came back and hit LSU's seventh trey to make it 77-68. LSU then got buckets from O'Bryant III and a spectacular dunk by Mickey off a Stringer alley oop to make it 81-68 with under three minutes to play.
LSU now plays a road and home week as they travel to Georgia for an ESPN2 contest on Thursday night at 6 p.m. CST from Stegeman Coliseum. LSU returns home next Saturday for a 3 p.m. SECTV contest against Auburn. Tickets for that game are available at LSUtix.net.
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LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“One of the questions would probably be, ‘How would these guys come out and bounce back after an emotional game on Tuesday?' To their credit, I thought they came out very focused tonight and got off to a great start against a very feisty and tough basketball team. Arkansas has been in overtime games with Florida at home and has beaten Kentucky. They went to Georgia and had another overtime setback there but played very tough on the road. I thought our guys established themselves early in the first half and came back out in the second half in the first four or five minutes and did more of the same in terms of making plays. I thought they did a great job of sharing the basketball with each other, getting 22 assists tonight. We shot a high percentage. I thought defensively we played well and rebounded well. I thought if we won the war on the boards, then we would have a chance and I thought that was a big deal for us tonight.”
On playing a zone defense…
“They have guys on the perimeter. They can really shoot it. (Rashad) Madden is an excellent shooter out there, over 40 percent. They have the type of range to move the ball around. (Bobby) Portis inside is extremely tough. I thought we were able to take away driving lanes and at the same time get a hand up to force them to shoot over the top of our length. They only shot around 27 percent in the first half, so I thought the zone helped us tonight. ”
On Arkansas not being able to get into their press early …
“It's tough when they're not making shots and we're not getting the ball out of the net. It's tougher for them to set up and set their press. At the same time, it gives us some opportunities to get the ball up and push it up the floor. We didn't change up anything we were doing. We were still trying to get fast-break opportunities as well.”
On being balanced and patient on offense …
“If you look at the stat line, the great thing is that they've done a tremendous job of sharing the basketball. I think they're moving the ball around, getting it to the open guy and are able to make plays. They're not shooting the ball quick. I think they're doing a great job in terms of scoring at a high-efficiency rate. When we make plays like that and have balance scoring, we're a really good basketball team.”
On the crowd and the way the team feeds off of it …
“I thought the crowd we had on Tuesday night was phenomenal, when talking about the conditions. I thought it was a tremendous crowd. We talk to our kids about playing the right way, winning and putting the right product out there on the floor. They've been able to do that. They're playing the right way. They've won games and competed at a certain level, which has created a type of environment that will allow people to come. If they're not here in the building, I think they're missing something special, because these guys are doing a tremendous job of playing together, creating a tremendous bond in atmosphere that is fun to watch.”
On getting off to a great start once again …
“It was important for us to come out of the gate quickly. They're a very tough basketball team. They're great shooters. The one thing we didn't want them to do was become a confident basketball team coming out of the locker room. I thought our zone helped us. They took shots out of the lane. They didn't get to the paint area. That made it tough for them and that allowed us to get off to a great start. I thought our guys were able to feed off of that as well.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
On the role freshman players…
“There are a lot of freshman that come in and lead, but that's how college basketball is these days. Freshman have to step right in and make a big commitment to the team and our freshman are doing a good job of that.”
On the chemistry with Jordan Mickey…
“I love playing with Jordan. I have never in my life played with a guy that can do the things he does. Just give it to him and he can dunk it or if you are defending and someone slips past you he comes up and blocks it.”
On stopping runs and closing games out…
“We are a confident team. We know we can score on the offensive end. When teams make runs on us we feel like we can execute on the offensive end to stop the run.”
On keeping press teams out of the press defense….
Well we have (Anthony) Hickey who is one of the fastest guys in the country. When they make a shot we hurry to get it in and he busts the press for us, and (Jordan) Mickey does a great job bringing the ball up the court at the four position.”
On playing zone defense….
“We feel pretty good in the zone. We're getting comfortable with it. Its something we can utilize going further into the season.”
On closing out games….
“When we are playing a team that can make a run, we know we have to slow them down, use some clock, get the ball inside and most of all make our free throws towards the end of the game.”
On Arkansas struggling on the road…
“We don't look at any team as bad on the road. Any team can get you at any moment anywhere. We knew coming in they were a good team, tonight they just didn't hit as many shots as they normally do. I also contribute that to our defense some though. We played great team defense.”
On getting fired up and bringing excitement….
“I just wanted to give the fans something to get excited about. They come out and support us every game so I wanted to pay them back with something to get excited about. I am excited about being on the court everyday. Its something I don't want to take for granted and want to enjoy every day I can.”
Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson
“Obviously our guys are disappointed. Of course we had some adversity before the game, not having two of our guys that we count on, but that's part of it. When adversity takes place, you are going to find out a little bit more about your basketball team. What I found out tonight is that our guys won't quit. They had a chance to really get buried, and they came out in the second half and really fought against a good LSU team. LSU is a very good basketball team. As a team, their strength is (they are) a team of size. They have an experienced guy in Johnny O'Bryant. Jordan Mickey, someone we are very familiar with, he's really playing well for them. They are really playing at a good level right now. But hats off to our guys. We have some guys who haven't been playing much but came out and gave some good minutes for us. Kikko (Haydar) came out and really fought. Bobby (Portis) for playing on the road, I thought gave us some tremendous minutes. He's getting better each and every minute. I can see that. We saw hopefully some of the future stuff we talked about, but bottom line we didn't get the job done and LSU did.”
On today's game …
“I thought our guys came out and LSU threw the first punch. They were making shots and rebounding the basketball. To our guy's credit, we cut the lead down and with a great shot cut it down even further right before halftime. Once we settled down and started really attacking them and attacking the zone, I thought things started going in our favor. They had some runs in the second half. We had some runs and cut it to six, I think, with four or five minutes to go. Obviously in basketball that's a lifeline. For us, we had some guys you don't normally see out there. That shows me that we have some guys who are leaving everything on the floor.”
On digging themselves out of a hole…
“I think that's the thing about it, it took so much out of our guys. To me the beauty of it is, I got a chance to see it. There have been some games where that didn't take place. We made runs and LSU did what they had to do to hold us off. So again, our guys fought and clawed and scratched. The key now is not getting in those big holes like that. And how do you do that? Come out with that energy. They came out and they punched us and I think we didn't punch as hard as we should have. I think in the second half we saw a different mindset with our basketball team.”
On LSU's play tonight…
“They played well. They played zone and I thought we executed against them. We started to work inside out. In the first half I thought we turned down some shots and settled for some shots. You can't do that against a team in a zone. You have to be aggressive. You have to be able to attack, attack the baseline, inside out.”
ARKANSAS PLAYER QUOTES
G KIKKO HAYDAR
On how tough was is when you are struggling to make shots…
“It is very frustrating and we did come back in the second half, but it was very frustrating in the first half to come back. I don't think we were worn out, I just think that being down so much made it more difficult to come back, not being at home. We started coming back and then they came right back and hit a three pointer. Then, we were down and had to come back again. ”
On getting 15 points in the second half…
“One of my jobs is to make open shots so my teammates found me and had faith in me that I would make the open shots. Sometimes in basketball you don't make shots, but you never know in the next game we might make all of those shots.”
F BOBBY PORTIS
On how tough it was getting down 26-to-9 in the first half…
“Oh it was 26 to 9? It was tough to fall behind because you are on the road and when you play on the road you are against everyone, so it is difficult to come back. “