Basketball to Honor Seniors in Regular Season Finale

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Basketball to Honor Seniors in Regular Season Finale

BATON ROUGE – LSU honors seniors Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer in pre-game ceremonies prior to the final home game of the 2013-14 regular season Saturday as the Tigers host Georgia at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The ceremony will take place at 3:45 p.m. prior to the 4:05 p.m. tip for the contest. LSU is 19-11 and 9-8 in the Southeastern Conference entering the finale while Georgia is 17-12 and 11-6 in the league. LSU has won seven straight home SEC games going into the contest.

The game will be televised regionally on FSN with Dave Neal and Larry Conley on the call. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will have the game on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (listed below).

Tickets for the game are available online at On site ticket sales will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the upper concourse ticket windows of the Maravich Center.

Those with tickets for the 6:30 p.m. baseball game at Alex Box Stadium Saturday night can show their baseball ticket at the Maravich Center and purchase basketball tickets for just $5. The first 5,000 fans will receive a poster depicting the Maravich Center on game day.

Coleman is concluding his second year at LSU after coming here from junior college. The Thibodaux native, who was a valuable sixth man a year ago, has become a fixture in the starting lineup and has been one of the league leaders in steals in conference games this year. He is averaging 8.8 points per game and has started 18 games this season.

Stringer came to LSU in 2011 as a point guard for the Tigers and has put his name in several spots in the LSU record book. He is third all-time in three-pointers with 227 and he is one of 40 players to have 1,000 career points (one shy of 1,300). He also is 16th in career steals (128) and 10th in assists (311). He has averaged double figures each of his four seasons, led by this year’s average of 11.6 points per game. He is 39.1 percent from the arc and 83.7 percent at the line this season.

Stringer and Coleman were big factors in Thursday’s come from behind win over Vanderbilt Thursday in Nashville, 57-51. The pair combined to make 15-of-15 free throws as Coleman was 7-of-7 and Stringer 8-of-8 to help LSU rally from a 28-12 halftime advantage as the Tiger defense held Vanderbilt to just 23 points the rest of the game, including 19 in the second half.

Johnny O’Bryant III led LSU with his eighth double double of the year with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

This will be the second meeting between LSU and Georgia with Georgia a 91-78 winner in Athens back in early February. In that game, Georgia shot 60 percent from the field (27-of-45) and 5-of-9 from the arc. The Bulldogs also shot 46 free throws as LSU was called for 33 fouls as O’Bryant III and Coleman only played a combined 31 minutes before fouling out.

Jordan Mickey and Stringer led LSU with 19 points each, while Nemanja Djurisic led UGA with 17 points while Charles Mann had 16.

The Tigers and Bulldogs will play what amounts to the final game of the SEC regular season schedule as it will be the last tipoff of seven on Saturday. Seedings for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Wednesday night in Atlanta, should become clearer as the day goes on. LSU knows that a win could give LSU as high as a tie for fourth, but with tiebreakers the highest LSU would be seeded is sixth. The Tigers mathematically could be a seven, eight or nine seed depending on various combinations if the Bulldogs win the game. Georgia could possibly tie Kentucky for second with a win and could falter lower than its present third position with Tennessee and Arkansas just a game behind.

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Coach Johnny Jones met with the media earlier in the day and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“Really excited about a very gutsy, tough win last night in an environment where it’s always been extremely tough to play against a team that has always executed, played well at home and shot the ball well. I thought after getting down 16 points our guys showed a lot of grit coming back, fighting back, even up until I think about three or four minutes to play when we finally took a lead last night. But (we) got a lot of positive play from a lot of guys and especially (Andre) Stringer last night, going 8-of-8 from the free-throw line and making some big plays for us down the stretch. I thought defensively, we were able to clamp down, and I thought Johnny O’Bryant (III) made some tough shots for us not only at the basket but stepping away and knocking down some jumpers for us last night. We know it’s going to take that type of effort for us Saturday against a very good Georgia basketball team, a team that’s playing really well right now, sitting in third place in our league. We are going to have a great effort from all of our guys tomorrow for us to have some success in that game.”

On the expectations of the fan base for the final home game…
“We’re hopeful that our fan base will certainly show their appreciation of the two seniors that we have in this program and the effort that those guys have put in to try to put this basketball team and this program in a great light. I think Andre Stringer – a four-year guy and a senior – has had a really good, strong, steady career here for four years, has really been an impactful player and will leave here with his name certainly immersed in the record books. Shavon Coleman – a two-year player for us – a guy that came in and I think has done a tremendous job for us in a lot of areas. (Coleman) came in and had to play him out of position last year, but the team player that he is, it has shown, playing there last year then moving out to the perimeter. He’s still been very productive for us, even in a starting role. Coming off the bench – it didn’t matter, but his leadership that he’s really shown to this team and the impact that he’s made from that position and defensively, I don’t think you can really measure what he’s really meant to this team. Because night in and night out, just his ability to do that and his selflessness has allowed us to have the success that we’ve had around him.”

On Andre Stringer sticking through coaching changes and persevering…
“I think it’s really good, and it shows his “stick-to-it-iveness” and the type of mentality that he has. He doesn’t have any quit in him. I think he has had the opportunity to rise to the occasion. I think they may have recruited him to play the point (guard) if I’m not mistaken, and we’ve had to move him over to the shooting guard. He’s really excelled at that spot really for us. He made a great impact for us last year, and I think his numbers and everything are even better this year. I think he’s just continued to improve.”

On how he saw Andre Stringer when he first arrived on campus…
“I thought he was excited just because our style of play was going to probably allow him the ability to spread the floor, the way that we play sprint-to-screen action, that he would get different looks and possibly some better looks. We would be able to utilize him in another way that was going to be beneficial for him. I thought he was good. I did have the liberty of playing against LSU I guess when he was a freshman as well and had the opportunity to see him. It may have been his freshman year when I had an opportunity to watch him as well. I just think his growth has really been good over the years. Again, I think he’s just made an impact, and he’s just been solid. I think when I came in; he was open and excited about the opportunities that were there.”

On Andre Stringer and the rest of the team he didn’t recruit being one of his guys…
“I think I may have mentioned at the press conference when I came in and had an opportunity to talk about the job. When I talked about the players, they were sitting in the back of the room. It wasn’t whether or not I recruited them or not. If they had an LSU uniform and we were together. We were a team. They were on scholarship here, so they welcomed me, and I welcomed them certainly with open arms. We were going to be able to work together to try to get to a certain point and make sure that we’re all on the same page and have the same goals. I was about winning, and those guys have done that. They’ve shown that, and they’ve been winners. I think we’ve had an opportunity to grow together and things have gone well.”

On transferring strategy from the first game versus Georgia to this one…
“We’ve got to do a good job. I think the main thing playing against those guys – they shot 46 free throws in that basketball game. That’s not an area that we frequent – putting somebody on the line 30-something or 40-something odd times or fouling as much. We’ve just got to do a good job of maybe keeping them off the line and to do that try to keep them out of the lane and make them have to finish a certain way. ”

On speaking to the post guys about changing defensive strategy from the last Georgia meeting…
“I think we just need to tweak what we do defensively maybe to keep them from getting to those guys as frequent and try to keep them out of the paint as deep. I think we will probably be better served to do that because if the guys are getting in that deep, I think your front line – those guys that are out there initiating contact with those guys initially – must not be doing the job that we need to. So we’ve got to do a better job on ball.”

On worrying about the postseason…
“[…] I think you don’t have any control over that. I think you have to really put yourself in the best situation. We’ve got one more regular season game left, and we have to really I think make it to the SEC tournament and make a great showing. I think you have to get in there and play well. You have to leave it up to a committee to decide that. I’m a firm believer. I think that there are several teams – probably about five teams – in our conference that would be very deserving to get there (to the NCAA Tournament) because of the way that they’ve played. We’re hopeful that we could possibly be one of those teams if we happen to fall short of winning the (SEC) tournament. Our goal and mission is just like everyone else – to go there and win. We won’t change that. I do talk to our team about winning the tournament. Not just to get to the NCAA Tournament, but I think it’s a great honor to have an opportunity to win the conference championship. So we will talk about that.”

On the importance of seeding in the SEC Tournament…
“I think it’s important. I think you want to win as many games as you can and see where you’re positioned. I think if you’re doing that, that’s a good sign. Because if you’re winning games, that means you’re playing well, and you put yourself in position on a neutral floor (where) anything can happen. So we feel if we go in (to the SEC Tournament) on a two-game win streak, that would be really good for us, and we’d be excited about that. We feel like wherever we’re positioned at that time would be good for us.”

On the importance of the win versus Vanderbilt…
“I thought our guys did a great job of fighting from 16 points down in that type of environment – senior night for them and the way that they came out shooting the basketball. For our guys to fight back and get back in the game prior to halftime and then get off to a good start in the first four or five minutes in the second half – I think if my memory serves me – I think Kent may have eluded to this – 2006 was the last time we won there. It’s not a real easy place to play. They only lost to Florida by three points last week in that building; you’re talking about the No. 1 team in the country. So you know they are very capable at home. So it was a good win for us.”

On Andre Stringer starting because of Senior Day…
“[…] I think he will certainly be in the starting lineup tomorrow if that’s okay with Kent that I tell you that. He’s very deserving. He’s one of those guys – he’s played a special role for us this year. I think it’s good to have a guy like that. He’s a very capable starter and has played a special role for us this year. We will certainly tweak our lineup to honor our seniors tomorrow.”

On the toughness of the SEC…
“I think the SEC is a very strong conference. I think if you look at the top of our conference with Florida, what they’ve been able to do, Kentucky early on and Tennessee and Arkansas with the way they are playing right now. Georgia was obviously one of the games that they’ve been faced with and Missouri has been right there. So it’s a lot of good teams any night. I think – who was battling the other night – Texas A&M was in a battle with Missouri on the road. Any given night, it’s a very tough conference. I look around the county, and I think our conference is as good as or better than a lot of the stronger conferences that are out there.”

LSU Sports Radio Network Affiliates

WDGL 98.1 FM, Baton Rouge; KSYL 970 AM, Alexandria; WBOX 92.9 FM, Bogalusa; KFNV 107.1 FM, Ferriday; KJIN 1490 AM/KCIL 96.7 FM, Houma; KJNA 102.7 FM, Jena; KLWB 103.7 FM, Lafayette; KXZZ 1580 AM, Lake Charles; KJAE 93.5 FM, Leesville; KMLB 540 AM, Monroe; KFRA 1390AM, Morgan City; KWLV 107.1 FM Natchitoches; WWL 870 AM/105.3 FM, New Orleans; KRUS 1490 AM, Ruston; KWKH 1130 AM, Shreveport; KTJZ 97.5 FM, Tallulah; WFCG 107.3 FM, Tylertown, MS; KVPI 1050 AM, Ville Platte