BATON ROUGE – Four LSU players combined for 67 points as the Tigers ran their record to 3-0 heading to next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas with a 78-70 win over North Florida Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The game resembled little of what last year’s 119-108 win over the Ospreys looked like as both teams had to grind the game for scores as whistles were frequent and neither team could really find a rhythm for long periods of time.
There were 46 fouls in the game and 34 turnovers, many of those traveling calls.
Antonio Blakeney made it back-to-back 20 point games with 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting, while Duop Reath hit 7-of-12 field goals including two treys for 17 points. Brandon Sampson had 14 second half points to finish with 16 points while Aaron Epps hit for 14 for the Tigers.
Four players also dominated the Ospreys scoring with Chris Davenport getting 16 points, while Romelo Banks, Aaron Bodager and Dallas Moore (who had 31 points last year) had 13 points and five rebounds.
Both teams shot in the mid 40 percent range from the field with both teams making seven treys. The Ospreys made just 13-of-28 free throws and LSU was 13-of-23.
LSU led by as much as 10 in the first half, but UNF closed the game by scoring the final seven points in the last 2:35 and trailed by just 34-33 at intermission.
The Ospreys would get the lead in the second half in the first six minutes before LSU took the lead for good on a 7-0 run after the game was tied for the fifth time at 49-49 at the 14:35 to play. Sampson hit a three-ball at the 14:17 mark to go up 52-49 and then Epps hit a layup to take the game to 54-49.
On both of those plays, junior Jalyn Patterson made the assist pass on a night in which he had just one point but eight assists and just two turnovers in 27 minutes off the bench, primarily at the point position.
LSU pushed the lead to seven on two Epps free throws and LSU would get as much as a 12-point lead off a Blakeney three-pointer and an Epps bucket that put LSU up, 66-54, with 6:28 to play.
The Ospreys cut the Tigers lead to as little as four, 67-63, with 4:11 to go, but LSU had the ability to grind out the rest of the game and get the eight-point victory.
LSU leaves for Paradise Island in the Bahamas on Monday morning and will play on Wednesday in the opening game of the tournament at 11 a.m. CT against Wichita State in a game televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network. The Tigers will play on Thursday either in mid-afternoon or late in the evening in the second round against either Louisville or Old Dominion, before a final day game on Friday.
The Tigers will return to Baton Rouge on Nov. 26 and prepare for its final home game prior to the final exam break, Nov. 29, against Houston.
Updates on LSU Basketball can be found @LSUBasketball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball.
LSU Basketball vs. North Florida Quotes
November 18, 2016
LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening statement …
“Obviously, we are excited to have another opportunity to have a victory under our belt. I felt like we did what this team needed to do with the first three games that we had. We played here at home and needed to make sure that we played well enough to try to improve each night out and get better. I thought we were able to do that. Tonight, we played a team that was good defensively and gave a bunch of different looks. I think (North Florida) can challenge you because of what they are capable of doing offensively. They are a confident team. We allowed them to become a confident team there in the first half. They made plays and allowed us to go in with only a one-point lead at the first half. Overall, coming back in the second half, it was a grind game for us. Our guys grinded it out defensively. I thought they executed offensively and made some plays here at the basket. They made a couple of big threes. I thought our guys closed the game out well with plays made by Antonio Blakeney and several other guys. I was really pleased with Elbert Robinson III tonight with the 10 minutes he was able to provide for us.”
On Brandon Sampson’s second half surge …
“I think that’s the beauty of this team. We have guys especially on the wing with Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson. Both of those guys are prolific scorers. At any time, they can go off. I was disappointed because we did not share the ball enough to make enough passes there in the first half. When we did make more than three passes, we had easy scoring opportunities, and we quick shot it. It didn’t allow us to get the rhythm there. I thought those guys, when they got their hands on the ball, they executed well to make plays. Our guards were able to trust them at that time.”
GUARD ANTONIO BLAKENEY
On grinding out the game and getting the win…
“One of those games where you keep trying to play better as the game goes along. Try to correct those mistakes that you make. I am just happy we got the win.”
On getting a lift from Brandon Sampson’s play…
“Definitely he was really aggressive taking his shot getting to the rim. He got to the free-throw line and made most of his free throws. It definitely helped us.”
FORWARD DUOP REATH
On North Florida Center Romelo Banks…
“It was a little bit tough. He had the hooks, he had size. It was not as easy as the 6’ 7” guys we have played against these last two games.”
GUARD BRANDON SAMPSON
On scoring ten points in two minutes…
“Just trying to let the game come to me. Just trying to be patient and getting open looks. My teammates got me the ball and I took the shots.”
On developing a defensive identity…
“Going into halftime we knew we were not executing on defense. We just came out and wanted to get momentum on defense first. We knew we would get shots. We knew we would get the ball inside and draw fouls so it was just about making free throws.”
UNF HEAD COACH MATTHEW DRISCOLL
Opening statement …
“We’re growing up. The guys fought tonight and we didn’t let the lead that they (LSU) built in the second half demoralize us. We were in a place where we were able to continue to fight and to our guys’ credit, they cut it (the lead) to under four points at the four-minute media timeout. They just kept on fighting. We, obviously, left so much on the table. We had 20 turnovers. We were 13-for-28 from the free-throw line. It’s hard to beat anybody, let alone an SEC team, when you’re doing that to yourself. It’s hard to defend when you’re doing that to yourself. The amazing thing is, our guys kept believing, they kept on fighting, and I think rebounding is probably why we were able to stay in the game and fight to get back in the game. I thought Romelo Banks was as good of a player on the floor tonight. I’m so happy for him and excited for him that he’s back to what he does … It is what it is. I’m proud of our fight, but I don’t like learning from losing. We have a big week next week. We have four more games. We just played four games in eight days back-to-back after one day in between. Then we have a four-game deal so that will be eight games in 17 days. I was proud of the way, we didn’t perform Wednesday night, we came and handled our business Thursday night, and it showed on the court tonight. We’ll be fine if our guys continue to believe. Before the game we told them this ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re a planter or the water because the seed can’t grow without either, but if you’re in for the purpose and you understand the purpose then the seed will grow.’ I thought they did that tonight.”