Men's Basketball Returns to face Central Michigan

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
+0
Men's Basketball Returns to face Central Michigan

BATON ROUGE – While it may be the start of a stretch of five games in 12 days beginning Saturday night at 7 against Central Michigan, the LSU Tigers and Coach Trent Johnson understand just one thing.

The next game against Central Michigan is the most important game and when they take the floor at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, it is right now the only one that matters.

“It is a stiff challenge,” said Coach Johnson. “It is one game for us and Central Michigan has our complete focus. It is a very stiff challenge because during the month of December we play some very quality basketball teams. But make no mistake about it – we are preparing ourselves for the game on Saturday, and as soon as that game is completed we will get ready for the next game.”

LSU (5-2) and Central Michigan (2-5) meet at the PMAC in LSU’s first game after final exams concluded earlier on Saturday. The game will be regionally televised by CST and the radio broadcast will be available on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WTGE New Country 100.7 Fm The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and at LSUsports.net/live.

Tickets are on sale beginning at $14 and $5 for youth (ages 3-12) through the day on Saturday at LSUtix.net and beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the upper concourse windows of the Maravich Center.

Fans are invited to arrive early on Saturday to have their holiday pictures make with Santa Mike The Tiger on the main concourse of the Maravich Center. Mike The Tiger will be available from 6 p.m. to 6:45 in the Pete Maravich Pass area next to Portal A. The photos will appear on LSUsports.net following the game as well as on the LSU Basketball Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball.

The Tigers won three straight games before the Final Exam break, defeating Centenary (78-36), at South Alabama (80-65) and Houston (73-57). Point guard Andre Stringer, who has started the last five games, leads the team in scoring average at 16.1 points per game and 3.0 assists per game. He is part of LSU’s strong starting guard trio that features another freshman, Ralston Turner (12.6 ppg) and sophomore Aaron Dotson (11.1 ppg).

Storm Warren, coming off his second double double of the season, and Malcolm White are expected to again start at the forward spots. Warren is averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, while White is averaging 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.

LSU has shot 50 percent or better from the field the last two ball games against South Alabama and Houston and the Tigers are 3-0 this year, 10-0 in the Trent Johnson era, when shooting 50 percent or more from the field.

Central Michigan is coming off a 71-62 loss at DePaul on Dec. 5 and one of their top scorers is Trey Zeigler, son of head coach Ernie Zeigler. He is averaging 15.6 points per game, while senior Jalin Thomas leads the team averaging, 16.4 points per game.

“We have a basketball game against a much-improved Central Michigan team that has a quality player – one of the top players coming out of high school – in Trey Zeigler, who is playing for his dad,” said Johnson. “They also have a nucleus of a couple of seniors who are back. Their last game is an indication of how much they have improved. On the road, they had DePaul down 11 points at halftime, and DePaul’s pressure hurt them. Obviously we are not a basketball team that full-court presses and traps, so I fully expect this to be a tough game for us, like all the games remaining on our schedule.”

Following this contest, LSU comes right back on Monday night at 7 p.m. and hosts Coastal Carolina (7-2) on the year and coached by former Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis.

Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball or on Twitter @LSUBasketball or @LSUCoachJohnson.

LSU head basketball coach Trent Johnson
December 9, 2010

Opening statement …
“We have one more day of finals, and I don’t think it could end any sooner. Then we have a basketball game against a much-improved Central Michigan team that has a quality player – one of the top players coming out of high school – in Trey Zeigler, who is playing for his dad. They also have a nucleus of a couple of seniors who are back. Their last game is an indication of how much they have improved. On the road, they had DePaul down 11 points at halftime, and DePaul’s pressure hurt them. Obviously we are not a basketball team that full-court presses and traps, so I fully expect this to be a tough game for us, like all the games remaining on our schedule. In terms of practice, I think we have gotten something done from a conditioning standpoint. But let’s make no mistake about it – I have always been one to make sure that guys know that the most important thing during finals week is what goes on in the classroom. So, I think they are looking forward to Saturday as much as anything and I know I am too.”

On playing five games in 12 days …
“It is a stiff challenge. It is one game for us and Central Michigan has our complete focus. It is a very stiff challenge because during the month of December we play some very quality basketball teams. But make no mistake about it – we are preparing ourselves for the game on Saturday, and as soon as that game is completed we will get ready for the next game. The good thing is that in December with school out of the way, it is all basketball. There is time for good practice time and for guys to get better individually and collectively. Also, if you are not playing well, it can really snowball and work against you. If you are playing well, you can have mock confidence and momentum and those kinds of things. With teams that I have been affiliated with, I tend to dwell on the next game and the next practice being the most important game and the most important practice and then seeing where you are after that.”

On the impact of the time off between games …
“I felt like we were getting better. When you have a week or two off, you can get caught up in making excuses. Obviously basketball is a game of momentum, and we had built up some pretty good momentum offensively going into the break, but defensively and in terms of taking care of the ball we still had lots of room for improvement. So, that is the side of basketball that I tend to dwell on the most. What is going on in practice has been positive in terms of their effort and their willingness to understand that we need to get better in certain areas. It is just a matter of us going up against somebody and continuing to improve. I don’t put a lot of stock into having a week or two off. If anything, with kids in general, it puts them in a situation where they want to get back to playing when you are coming off winning three consecutive games.”