Tiger Hoops Hosts North Florida Friday

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Tiger Hoops Hosts North Florida Friday

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers look to complete a three-game opening homestand with a third consecutive victory, hosting the North Florida Ospreys at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tickets for the game are available at LSUtix.net and beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the upper concourse ticket windows. Holders of football tickets for Saturday’s LSU-Florida game can show their tickets at the window on Friday night and buy an upper level ticket for the basketball game for just $2.

The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) with Chris Blair and Henry Hays on the call. The two will also voice the streaming video broadcast of the game on the SEC Network + and the Watch ESPN app.

LSU is 2-0 after wins over Wofford (91-69) and Southern Miss (78-61), while North Florida is 1-2 on the year. But it is the game from early December 2015 that is still one of those home games from recent times that gets talked about.

North Florida a year ago hit 19 treys, had two players hit for 31 points apiece and took a 56-48 lead into the dressing room at the half before LSU scored 72 points in the second half and came away with a 119-108 victory as Ben Simmons poured in 43 points in the game. Of players returning from that game, Aaron Epps scored 14 points and Jalyn Patterson 11, while Dallas Moore had 31 points in the game a year ago.

LSU is expected to go with the same starting lineup as the first two games with junior and SEC POW Duop Reath (16.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) along with junior Aaron Epps (13.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) with freshman Skylar Mays (5.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) and sophomores Antonio Blakeney (18.0 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Brandon Sampson (8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg) at the guards.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Thursday regarding the North Florida contest and here are some of his comments:

LSU Men’s Basketball
November 17, 2016

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening statement…
“We’ve had a few days of trying to fine tune and get ready for a North Florida team who last year came in on our floor and I thought put on one of the better team offensive performances that I’ve had an opportunity to witness. We look forward to another great challenge. They have several of those players from last year back from last year’s team including a point guard who has been getting a lot of looks from NBA scouts. We know that Dallas Moore is a very good and crafty point guard and Davenport along with other guys will give us a great challenge. Last year we went in with a deficit at half time and it took a great effort in the second half offensively for us to play extremely well. I thought Ben (Simmons) had a career high and scored 40-plus points in that outing. I’m hopeful that we’re so much better on the defensive end of the floor that it doesn’t take that type of effort from one of our offensive players to put that type of game together for us to have success tomorrow night.”

On defensive performances…
“We just have to continue to improve and continue to get better. I thought Wofford hit some huge shots against us and I thought we improved in our next game, which was a challenge for us because they’re a very capable team. We have to continue to get better and we’re excited that we’ve been able to hold both opponents in the sixties. That’s a good number for us and if we can continue to have the offensive output that we’ve gotten from our team the last couple of games and if we can hold our opponents to a low shooting percentage, and also keep them in the sixties it gives us a great opportunity to have success in games.”

On communicating on the floor…
“We’re getting better. We’re going to be a work in progress really throughout the year and we’re going to have to continue to build each game. I think they’re doing a better job of trying to have more attention to detail and be more aware of how important it is to communicate on the floor. Knowing that that’s something that we’re trying to focus and concentrate on helps. It’s something that we’re going to have to keep building on and get better at.”

On coaches putting more emphasis on defense…
“You always evaluate and during last year we knew we were a little bit deficient on the defensive end of the floor. That’s something that we put more of an emphasis and concentration on is our focus on the defensive end of the floor. Obviously over the years our teams offensively are very high scoring up-tempo type teams and I think this team has the makeup to be a really good defensive team as well. I think that if we can have the best of both worlds and defend well and put up significant points I think it would lend well for our team.”

On Aaron Epps play…
“… I thought Aaron (Epps) gave us some good spots last year. I thought in several games he was able to step out and make some plays. We knew he had great ability, and his freshman year we had to force him to play on the perimeter from the center spot to get him playing time due to the combination of guys we had. Last year we tried to move him back inside, so trying to get him to learn two spots may have slowed some of his productivity down. We’re excited that we’ve locked him into one spot, which is the four position, and we think he’s really excelled in that spot for us this year. He’s shown some really good signs, so with the addition of his play and getting Craig back it certainly gives us some depth in that spot

On Epps development over the summer…

“The good thing about the summer is (Aaron) and Antonio spent a lot of time in the gym together and I thought he put a lot of individual time in trying to get better and I think it’s shown on the floor. He’s really comfortable with that shot he’s taking out there and with running the floor. He can play with his back to the basket and he’s continued to improve as a defender and I think he’s one of the most improved guys inside from last year that we have on the team right now. He’s been very active and we’ve been very pleased with the progress he’s made.”