Men's Basketball Seeks 'Edge' vs. Alabama

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Men's Basketball Seeks 'Edge' vs. Alabama

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team looks to find the “edge” that Coach Johnny Jones mentioned a couple of times after a Thursday loss to Auburn when the Tigers host Alabama Saturday at 5 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The game is set to be televised on ESPN2 with Dave Lamont and Darrin Horn on the call with the game also on the Watch ESPN app and WatchESPN.com. The radio call will be available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net and the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network with Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and host Kevin Ford.

The game will be on these stations in the following areas: Baton Rouge (WDGL 98.1 FM); Alexandria (KSYL 970 AM); Bogalusa (WBOX 92.9 FM); Ferriday (KFNV 107.1 FM); Houma (KJIN 1490 AM); Jena (KJNA 102.7 FM); Lafayette/Opelousas (KLWB, 103.7 FM); Lake Charles (KXZZ 1580 AM); Leesville (KJAE 93.5 FM); Monroe (KMLB 540 AM); Morgan City (KFRA 1390 AM); Natchitoches (KWLV 1907.1 FM); New Orleans (WWL 870 AM; 105.3 FM); Ruston (KRUS 1490 AM); Shreveport (KWKH 1130 AM); Tallulah (KTJZ 97.5 FM); Tylertown, Mississippi (WFCG 107.3 FM); Ville Platte (KVPI 1050 AM).

Tickets are available during the day Saturday at www.LSUtix.net and at the upper concourse ticket windows beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Maravich Center. It is Fan Appreciation Day and all upper level tickets in the 300 level will be sold for $5. It is also the Gold Game and fans are encouraged to wear Gold to the game.

The Tigers had plenty of points on Thursday night (77), but gave up 81 to Auburn as the Tigers fell to 16-6 and 5-4 in the league. Alabama, a 62-49 winner over Missouri in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night, is now 14-8 and 4-5 in the conference.

The losses by LSU in the last two games dropped LSU into a four-way tie for fifth at 5-4 with Florida Georgia and Tennessee. Tennessee and Georgia play each other and Florida hosts Kentucky. The four teams are one game behind the three-way tie for second at 6-3 with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

Jordan Mickey had 23 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead LSU in the Auburn game and enters Saturday’s contest just three blocks shy of becoming the 39th LSU player to grab 500 rebounds in a career. Jarell Martin had 14 points and 16 rebounds with Tim Quarterman getting 17 and Keith Hornsby 11.

Alabama is led by Levi Randolph with a 14.8 points per game average while Ricky Tarrant averaged 13.1 points per game and Rodney Cooper comes in at 10.4 points per game. Tarrant’s 13.1 average scoring total leads the Crimson Tide in conference play.

Coach Jones met with the media on Friday afternoon prior to the team’s practice and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement …
“We have a quick turnaround in our games. It was a tough setback last night to an Auburn team who I thought played well and executed at a high level. They wound up scoring 81 points, which was close to 20 points over their norm. We have to do a much better job on Saturday. We have a good Alabama team that’s coming in here with some very high caliber scorers on the perimeter. We have to make sure that we play with a sense of urgency that’s needed against these guys from start to finish. That’s going to be Important for us on Saturday.”

On his coaching process after a loss…
“I think in the process, your coaching never stops. I think you have to continue working and teaching on a daily basis. It’s hopeful that things are sinking in. The problem is when you have to reteach a lot of times, and you have to repeat some things. Then, you may have to reevaluate how guys are taking things. Our biggest deal is making sure that our guys understand the importance of making sure that they grasp everything that we are trying to give them because the foundation has already been laid. We only tweak some things, and they should be fundamentally sound in a lot of areas.”

On the team’s perimeter defense against Auburn…
“They shot the ball up over us last night, a couple of high hands a few times. We were definitely on them. They just jumped up over the top of us and made shots. Scouting report wise, we wanted to handle the shooters and the screens a little differently than we wound up doing. To do what we were asking to do, it calls for some tough action and making tough plays. We just didn’t make enough of them last night.”

On personnel changes to the starting lineup…
“We will have an opportunity to look into that today at practice and find out exactly what we need to do to get off to a better start in our games.”

On Tim Quarterman‘s explosion off of the bench…
“We are probably going to have to put our energy and worries elsewhere. I’m not sure if anybody can give us that same pop off the bench that Tim (Quarterman) does. We are going to have to make sure that we try to figure out other roles that we are going to have to play or other adjustments we may have to make if in fact we wind up moving Tim to the starting lineup.”

On struggling with inbound plays…
“We have to execute them and make plays. Guys are just hesitant on the trigger. I think that’s more of a confidence factor. We have to do a better job of cutting and getting open and making us available.”

On the importance of finding a leader during the team’s two-game losing streak…
You do that all the time, and it’s not just now. You are always looking for that leadership and someone to step up and be vocal. When that happens, it gives you a greater opportunity. I think throughout this year, we’ve continued to be searching for that one individual who has the ability to do that night in and night out.”

On challenging the players after a loss…
“I just challenge them to look inside themselves and do some soul searching. What is it that you can do to make our team better? What adjustments can you make to be a better you? If you are the best that you can be, it’s going to allow our team to be better.”

On playing with more of an edge…
“One thing is our job is not necessarily to try to match other people’s intensity level, it’s really to try to exceed it. When you don’t, some bad things can happen for you. The team we play on Saturday, they will come out with a certain level that you have to either maximize or exceed. If you are not prepared or ready for that, it’ll be a long night for you.”