Spencer, Men?s Hoops Fends off Rice

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Box Score +0
Spencer, Men?s Hoops Fends off Rice

BATON ROUGE — Bo Spencer erupted for a game-high 22 points and was one of four Tigers to post double-figures as the LSU men’s basketball team emerged with a 65-61 victory over Rice Saturday to stay unbeaten at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Spencer totaled 14 of his 22 points in the second half aided by four three-pointers. Storm Warren posted 11 points and nine rebounds, while Tasmin Mitchell chipped in a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. LSU (8-2) improved to 6-0 when the trio of Mitchell, Spencer and Warren all reach double-figures this season.

Aaron Dotson and Eddie Ludwig also added career-highs with 10 and nine points, respectively for the Tigers. LSU shot 44.2 percent from the floor as the Tigers have won 17 of 18 non-conference games at home under Trent Johnson

It was Dotson who kept LSU from losing contact early with the Owls as he hit a three with 11:28 to go in the half to cut the Rice lead to four, 19-15, and then a layup that got LSU within two, 15-13, about a minute later.  Dotson didn’t start the game as LSU went with a three-forward offense in the matchup with Rice but came off the bench to add three assists, five rebounds and no turnovers in addition to his 10 points in 32 minutes.

Trailing 19-13 at the 9:31 mark in the first half, Mitchell, Spencer and Warren sparked LSU to a 17-2 run en route to a 30-21 lead with 3:12 left. Rice reeled off three straight baskets in the final 1:45 to draw back to 30-27 at halftime. 

The Tigers led wire-to-wire in the second half and surged out to a 54-46 advantage on a Dotson jumper with 5:04 remaining. Rice got back to three points on two occasions, the latest at 57-54, before Spencer connected on a 14-foot runner as the shot clock ran down with 1:55 to go.

LSU made 6-of-8 at the free throw line over the final 57 seconds to secure the 65-61 win. Tamir Jackson poured in 19 points, while Lawrence Ghoram notched 17 points to pace Rice (5-5).

LSU cut down its turnovers from the Nicholls State game on Thursday, from 17-11, with 13 assists and seven blocked shots.

Mitchell’s double double was his third of the season, the 19th of his career. It marked the first home game in which Storm Warren has not doubled as he was one rebound shy of his eighth of the year.

LSU returns to action Tuesday against Washington State at Seattle’s Key Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. CT and the game will be televised by CBS College Sports. The Tigers return home for a January 2nd tilt against Utah.

The game also can be heard live on the LSU Sports Radio Network, New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge, and online at LSUsports.net in the Geaux Zone.

 

LSU HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON

Opening statement…
“It’s interesting. Before the game, I talked to the guys about my experiences going up against coach (Ben) Braun’s teams. I think it was like 7-1 (record) or 6-2. I told them every time whether I had been an assistant while I was at Stanford or as a head coach, it seems like we’ve always been on the winning end, but it’s been just like a fist fight. You walk out of a game thinking that you lost. It was no surprise this afternoon. It was the same type of game ? back and forth. I thought they did a good job taking away our two best players in the post. They did an excellent job of blocking Storm (Warren) off and keeping him off the offensive glass. They got Tasmin (Mitchell) out of rhythm. We ran him in the post and pushed him back out by the three to try to get him going a little bit. Bo (Spencer) was really as good as he’s been this year in terms of executing and taking good shots with a lot of pressure. He kept his poise, and then, the two freshmen played well. I’m not saying that because Aaron (Dotson) made some shots. My goodness, sooner or later he’s going to make shots, but I thought he did a good job defensively. Eddie (Ludwig) was Eddie. He just finds a way to get things done, and for the untrained eye, he’s a good basketball player. He’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest, but he’s got a nose for the ball.

“It’s a good win for us. We’ve held serve at home now. What we will do is we’ll leave tomorrow at 11 a.m. and head to New Orleans. I think the flight gets us into Seattle around 7:30 p.m. We’ll have an extensive film and video session. We won’t do anything on the floor. When we come out Monday afternoon, we’ll have a practice.”

On what Rice did to take Warren and Mitchell out of their games…
“It wasn’t so much the physicality. It’s just that Rice kids are bright kids. They understand that if you give Storm an angle to the basket, he’s going to hurt you. If you don’t put a body on him and block him out, he’s going to hurt you. What I thought they did was force Storm off the post. I just mentioned the other day that he was turning and hitting that. Well, he was in an uncomfortable spot. They forced him out a little farther, a foot to the left or a foot to the right, so they put him in a situation where he should have been shooting it off the glass, and he didn’t. With Tasmin, I don’t really worry about it. The bottom line is he made a lot of good decisions early to get Aaron going, and he threw the ball out to Chris (Bass). When you double the guy as much as we run him through the post and we run him on the perimeter, he’s going to have a time or two when he’s not going to hit an open jump shot. He’s going to miss the ball in the post. Without looking at the tape, I’ve got to believe everything he shot was pretty good, but without looking at the tape, I think for the first time all year Tasmin got a little winded too. I think he got winded, and I attribute that to defensively down the stretch a little bit he’s trying to strip a guy as opposed to getting in position. Rice is a good team. I think they will challenge for the upper half of Conference USA.”

LSU PLAYER QUOTES

F Tasmin Mitchell

On LSU’s depth…
“That’s one of the things teams have to be made of. When key guys go out of the game, others on the bench have to step up. I think Aaron (Dotson) and Eddie (Ludwig) really stepped up. Our bench is really supportive, and our bench was really good today. 

On Rice’s athleticism…
“When we saw Rice today, we realized we needed to be really physical.  We knew they were our most physical opponent so far. We had to be physical with them. We had to stay with them.”

G Aaron Dotson

On today’s performance…
“I came out today with a lot of energy because I feel like I’ve been playing flat lately. I played with a lot of confidence. I watched film with the coaches. The coaches have been giving me energy. Today’s game helped my confidence a lot.”

G Bo Spencer

On today’s performance…
“I came out and made my shots. I tried to stay confident and just made my shots.”

 

 

RICE POSTGAME QUOTES

Head Coach Ben Braun

Opening statement…
“I felt that our team played hard. That’s important. It’s important especially against a Trent Johnson-coached team, because his teams play hard. Our guys played hard tonight, and I can appreciate that. I don’t think we helped ourselves out at the free throw line. Certainly, we’re a better free throw-shooting team than that. We worked hard and tried to get there [to the free throw line], and we just didn’t knock them down. It ended up being a big key to the game. I thought we did a good job on [Tasmin] Mitchell, and we did a fairly good job on [Storm] Warren as well.”

On Bo Spencer‘s game-high 22 points…
“We let Spencer get away on some jump shots. Bo Spencer hit some huge shots for that team. If he doesn’t knock those shots down, it’s a different story. He was probably the difference in the game for their team.”

On Bo Spencer‘s shooting ability…
“They were pro-type shots. They were off-balance, they were step backs, hands in the face, and you know, that’s what he does. Good players make big plays, and he did that. He made big plays for his team. That was the difference in the game. Just as Mitchell hit the three-pointer against Nicholls and they needed that shot, they needed every one of Bo Spencer‘s shots today.”

On the play of Tamir Jackson and Arsalan Kazemi…
“Tamir is a competitor. He got some shots in the lane and made some difficult shots, but he also made some hard shots look easy. That’s what he does. He got to the rim, and I was pleased to see that because that was important. I also felt Arsalan Kazemi gave us the same type of consistency. You’re talking about two guys who are freshmen. It was great to have them get that kind of experience and be so active and productive for our team.”