Battle of Tigers at PMAC Saturday as LSU Hosts Mizzou

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Battle of Tigers at PMAC Saturday as LSU Hosts Mizzou

BATON ROUGE – It will be Fan Appreciation Day at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as the LSU Tigers host the Missouri Tigers in a 1 p.m. start on Saturday.

LSU will be trying to win a fourth-straight home game, while Missouri will put an overall five-game win streak on the line.

The game will be televised by ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Jimmy Dykes on the call, while the radio broadcast will be on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Chris Blair and John Brady) with Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge, the flagship station.

As part of Fan Appreciate Day, there will be a Fan Fest starting at 11:30 a.m. outside the Maravich Center with a face painter, inflatables, music and more. Tickets for the 300 level are available for the game for just $5. Tickets are available online at and beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the upper concourse ticket windows of the building. LSU students, as per the norm, are admitted free of charge with a valid student ID.

Fans will have a chance to register to win such prizes as a 43-inch TV and Coolers from RTIC among other prizes.

The LSU Tigers are 14-11 and 5-8 on the season, while Mizzou is 18-8 and 8-5 in the league. For LSU it is a chance to improve seeding for the SEC Tournament and for Missouri a chance to potentially get a double bye into the Friday quarterfinals for a tournament that begins March 7 in a location as close to the campus as it is going to get, St. Louis.

The LSU Tigers enter the final five games with home games against Mizzou, Vanderbilt (Feb. 20) and Mississippi State (March 3), with road contests at Georgia (Feb. 24) and at South Carolina (Feb. 28).

LSU is coming in off an 80-65 loss at Alabama as junior college transfer Daryl Edwards scored an LSU high 21 points. Skylar Mays was the only other Tiger in double figures with 13 points. Mizzou is coming in off a Tuesday night home win over No. 21 Texas A&M, 62-58. A&M is a team the LSU Tigers defeated twice this season.

Kassius Robertson, a 6-3 guard, is the SEC Player of the Week for the past week after averaging 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds 2.5 assists in wins at Ole Miss and over Mississippi State.

Follow updates during the game on Saturday on LSU Basketball on Twitter @LSUBasketball and on Facebook at

Coach Will Wade met with the media on Thursday and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement …
“Obviously, Alabama dominated us in the second half, especially in the paint. They dunked it 12 times, five and-ones. Not going to beat many people giving up that many points at the rim. Missouri, unfortunately is a lot like Alabama except that they shoot really well from three. The guard (Kassius) Robertson is a very good player. Averaging 17 a game. They are big and physical inside with the freshman (Jeremiah) Tilmon. I love their four man, (Kevin) Puryear. Jontay Porter is a good player. (Jordan) Barnett can make threes. They are problematic. They are a big, physical defensive teams and they can knock down threes.”

On Cuonzo Martin …
“They are big, physical, hard-nosed team. You can tell by watching him coach that he lives and dies by every possession. Every pass, every defensive possession, he is down there on the baseline so he can see the defense from behind. He is an excellent basketball coach and an excellent defensive coach. He has done a fantastic job with this team. I know they were predicted pretty high, but that was them counting on Michael Porter. He has done a fantastic job with this team.”

On why (LSU doesn’t) play well in the second half …
“We get worn down. We stray a little bit away from what was working. When we do that it tends to snowball on us.”

On Alabama’s defense
“They cause you to miss. We got 6’3” guys trying to shoot over 6’7” guys. There is reason you miss. They caused a lot of that. They have very good rim protection, they have very good hands. Missouri is going to have some of those same qualities. They caused us to miss.”

On Daryl Edwards
“His team always wins. He is really smart. We put him on the scout team and let him run the other teams plays. He knows how to guard them and he can run the plays. When we did the road games in the summer, there is a precursor to everything and I was not smart enough figure it out until later on in the year. His team won every time in the road games and any sort of toughness drill we do. He is the lead dog too. He is not back in the pack, seeing what other people do. He is going to go first. He is a competitive kid, tough kid. There is something to be said for him. He started out in a big-time AAU program and they kind of took him out as a throw in. He worked his way up to starting. In junior college it was the same thing. He was on a national championship caliber junior college program. He started off as the 11th or 12th man and worked his way into being a really good player. He just has a little way about him where he is able to make plays that are competitive and make plays that will help you win. He turned into a pretty good defender for us. Glad we have him. He is playing well for us.”

On playing Randy Onwuasor a little bit more for a period of time …
“Just wanted somebody a little bit bigger. We are pretty small when you start Tre (Tremont Waters), Sky (Skylar Mays) and Daryl. It is a pretty small group, but it is our best. We put Daryl on their best offensive guy and you can maybe hide some guys a little bit better. A little bit of a disadvantage, height wise. I think he makes up for it in other ways.”

On mentally handling conference play
“You just kind of get better at it. We kind have come to terms that this is who we are. We are not going to be exactly what I want so we have to compensate for it in other ways and put our guys in the best position to make plays. You look at the Alabama game, yeah we got blasted at the rim. (Aaron) Epps missed three threes that went in and out. All three of them were three-quarters of the way down and out. That is what Epps is and he is very good at it. Sometimes they just don’t go in. When that happens, it is obviously going to be a rough night for us because we just don’t have a plan B to that.”

On if he has learned anything from this season …
“It is a different season. In the other conferences there was always a breather. There has been somebody that you could always get back on track against, or a little bit of a breather. Certainly it has been different managing some of the losing and the losing streaks. We just haven’t been through that. We haven’t lost a lot in conference at other places. It has been a little bit different navigating through that and trying to make sure our guys stay fresh. Our staff has been really good helping with that. They have been at some other experiences. They have been good managing that and making sure that we stay in a good frame of mind. It is just about surviving a couple of weeks. We haven’t been as good on the road, but the reality is that we played Auburn, who is number one in the league on the road. We played Tennessee, who is number two in the league on the road. We played Florida, who is top five in the league on the road, and we played Alabama who is top four in the league on the road. Reality is that we are not at the point where we can beat them on the road yet. It stinks. I don’t like saying that, but that is where we are. We can be competitive with some of those mid-tier teams. Guys who are little bit more in our weight class, we can be a little bit more competitive with those guys on the road. You just have to keep perspective and make sure that we keep our guys fresh. As bad as they want to win and as bad as we want to win, we have to make sure that we put our attention into the ones that we can get. Not that we are conceding anything.”

On if Daryl Edwards has swagger …
“Daryl has it. He is the only one, but he has it. I like his spirit, the way he is. Like I said, he has that winning quality to him. He always finds a way to win any team that he is on. If we are doing one-on-one full-court zig zag, he will want to turn his guy more than anyone else on the team. He is very competitive. He is very, very winning oriented. There is a winner and there is a loser. He doesn’t tolerate losing.”

On the difference he has seen in Missouri over the last couple of games …
“They have won a lot of close games. They made some big shots late in games. They have gotten some big defensive stops late in games. They are playing well. They have a lot of confidence in the last four to six minutes in games that they are going to find a way to pull it out. One thing that they always do is keep things in a working margin. When you get up four, they are always able to get it back to even really quick. Within three possessions. They are really good at building six to eight to 10 point leads. You will make a little run to go up four and then they will get the thing back up to six or eight. If you get up, it is very hard to pull away. They get back very quickly. Teams have gone on long droughts against them, like we did against Alabama. There have been some teams that have gone on really long droughts against them. You have to be able to run good offense and execute. You have to do multiple things on offense. If you are going to do one action, they are going to bottle you up. You need an action to another action, two or three different things going on or there is going to be nowhere to go. They are going to swallow you alive.”