Men's Basketball Preps for Key Road Swing

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Men's Basketball Preps for Key Road Swing

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team began preparations for a two-game road swing which begins Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

LSU and the University of Tennessee meet at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) in a game televised on the SEC Network and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.

The Tigers are 16-7 overall with Tennessee 14-9 and both teams are 6-5 in the Southeastern Conference.  After Saturday’s game it will be another Saturday-Tuesday turnaround as LSU travels to College Station to take on Texas A&M at 8 p.m.

Here are some of Coach Johnny Jones‘ comments from today’s media session:

Opening Statement…
“After another hard fought battle again the other night, against Kentucky, we look forward to another great challenge on the road at Tennessee. (Tennessee) got off to a great start in league play and has really been competitive throughout conference play. At six and five, it will certainly be a challenge on Saturday afternoon. A challenge that we look forward to and hopeful that we can get back to our winning ways and certainly start a winning streak of our own …”

When asked about what can you take from the Kentucky game…
“I think when you look back at the way that our guys played throughout the 40-minute basketball game after getting down 13 and then making a run and getting back into the game in the second half … Battling right there at the end of the basketball game and still having a chance and by having a shot to win the game there at the end will tell our guys what they are capable of after looking at Kentucky and how they have had wins over teams like Kansa, UCLA, and North Carolina.  We’ve got to think that if we can challenge a team of that caliber throughout the rest of the season, then we’ve got a chance to do something special in this league. “

When asked about the dynamic play of Josh Richardson and Tennessee…
“Richardson has really been a very key part of their team this year. He’s been really just taking over and is really the leader. I thought last night in the Vanderbilt game defensively and offensively he was as good as anyone I’ve seen all year and taking over and impacting the game on both ends of the floor, willing his team to victory.”

When asked about bringing some energy from the UK game to Tennessee…
“The Kentucky game is obviously behind us now. We’ve got to really look at the things that are important now. What are we trying to do and what are we doing to try to accomplish our goals. How do we get there and how we have to play to get there and certainly it’s easy to get up for the number one team in the county. But we have to make sure we channel our energy at the things that are important to us now and that’s winning basketball games to get into post season play; more specifically  the NCAA Tournament.”

On Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey
“I thought both of those guys did a dynamic job against great post guys that Kentucky is able to play by starting and bring off of the bench. For those guys to have to battle throughout the night against that caliber of competition, I thought offensively and defensively, they showed great strength. It showed the ability that both of those guys have and the impact that they make in this league.”

On practicing for the game against Tennessee…
“We have to make sure that our practices have the focus and the attention to detail, mentally as well as physically out there in preparation and getting ready for games.  Generally, when you practice a certain way and you take attention to detail in the games and really lock yourself in, you have a great chance of having success, and they were able to take in that. Prior to the Kentucky game, I thought they were really locked in and played extremely well leading into that game. There’s been some growth. Unfortunately, we’ve had setbacks; learning experiences are what we’ve been able to get from those. Even with as well as our team played the other night, I still think there is a lot to learn from the Kentucky game that we have to make sure we take with us and build on it as well.”

On the urgency to win games…
“There’s not so much desperation, but the focus has to be at a certain point. I think you’re exactly right. I think you can take a look at the schedule and find out what we need to do throughout this schedule in the games that we have left on it and the success that we possibly need to have prior to getting into the conference tournament. I think you can start pointing to some of those things with the same philosophy of taking one game at a time, but this is our approach. This is what really needs to happen. The window is closing to where we are going to have to minimize the mistakes we are making and the setbacks that you have. We are 11 games in, and we still have control of our own destiny at the end of the day. But, the window is closing.”

On keeping Martin and Mickey out of foul trouble throughout the game vs. UK …
“The way the game was played, I thought a lot of things were at the rim. Guys were driving the basketball and playing in the paint area. It was a war in there. A lot of rebounds needed to be had. With that, I thought it was really good. I thought in the first half we probably allowed them to make some easy plays at the rim. I thought we were much more aggressive in the second half because of the lack of fouls that we had. I thought we gave up easy baskets around the rim. Sometimes you have to do that to stay out of foul trouble.”