Basketball Tigers Back On The Road Saturday

LSU In Oxford At The Pavilion To Face Ole Miss, 6 p.m.

by Kent Lowe | Sr. Assoc. Communications Director
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Basketball Tigers Back On The Road Saturday

BATON ROUGE – Return from one road trip. Get ready for another. 

Such is the life of the LSU men’s basketball team as it faces another difficult challenge Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi as the Tigers travel to The Pavilion to take on Ole Miss.

Game time is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2 with Chris Blair and John Brady on the call for the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media Flagship Eagle 98.1 FM) and Roy Philpott and Jimmy Dykes on the telecast call for ESPN2.

LSU is 12-4 and 4-0 in the SEC, while Ole Miss is 9-7 and 0-3 in the SEC. The Tigers are coming off an 89-85 overtime win at Texas A&M on Tuesday in which they made two three-pointers in the final 1:51 to come from six down to force overtime. 

Ole Miss is back home after a 71-57 loss at Florida on Tuesday night.

LSU will be without the services of Charles Manning Jr., who broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in the first half of the game. He had surgery on Thursday and is expected to be out for at least a month. But LSU is expected to have Marlon Taylor back for the game after missing the A&M game to have his left foot examined which has been bothering him after his return to play from surgery.

Breein Tyree, who leads Ole Miss with 17.8 points per game, missed the Florida game with a back contusion, is expected back for Saturday’s game. Blake Hinson also averaged 11.4 points and KJ Buffin 10.4 for the Rebels. 

All five starters were in double figures for the Tigers against A&M with Skylar Mays and Trendon Watford leading the way with 19 points. Mays added eight assists and Watford had 11 rebounds and six assists. Javonte Smart had 18 points, Darius Days 16 and Emmitt Williams 10. 

Both teams made 14 treys in the contest, but LSU overall shot 48.3 percent from the floor and out rebounded Texas A&M, 48-32.

LSU will put several streaks on the line in the game including 11 straight SEC road victories and nine straight SEC regular season wins. LSU is also on a five-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 29.

The two teams will play twice in two weeks with the return game set for Feb. 1 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. That will be the day LSU honors the 50th anniversary of the night on Jan. 31, 1970 when Maravich broke the NCAA career scoring mark. 

LSU will return home from a Tuesday night game with Florida that is set for 6 p.m. in the Maravich Center. Tickets are available at LSUTix.net.

Coach Will Wade met with the media prior to the team’s departure and here are some of his comments:

On the team’s nine second half turnovers Tuesday against Texas A&M…
“All turnovers aren’t created equal. Of those nine, we had two travels and three charges. You can actually get back and guard those. Of the 19 turnovers (in the game) we only had five or six that were unguardable and they only converted them into a few points. They weren’t detrimental even though it was a large number. We did allow them to shoot more shots than us which is not good, but I thought the turnovers were – the turnovers that we had were manageable – which is what you want. You don’t want them at all, but if you have them, you want them to be manageable where at least you can get back and set your defense. Most of them at A&M were that variety so that helped us out.”

Replacing the injured Charles Manning Jr. and if Marlon Taylor will play…
“Marlon should be good to go. I don’t know how much he will be able to play … He’s been given clearance from the doctors so he’ll be good to go with us. We need Marlon to step up. We need Marlon to play a lot better than he’s been playing – more like he played last year. We need him to get back going. Aundre Hyatt has given us really, really good minutes. He’s played really, really well. He had a huge offensive rebound, he hit a big three, he made some big plays for us. We need him to just continue to progress, continue to be steady. We know what we’re going to get with Marshall (Graves) – very, very solid. He’s somebody that can help us. And (James) Bishop. Bishop is somebody that can come in and help. He’s done that at certain times this year. He helped us in the Rhode Island game. He’s somebody we believe in. Sometimes as a freshman it’s tough. We shorten the rotation. We felt like the seven or eight guys we were playing gave us the best chance. Now with Charles out, we’re going to have to recalibrate that and Bishop will certainly be in those playing. Then we’re going to continue to play Coop (Courtese Cooper) some. Coop played five minutes. He gave us good minutes. He’s getting better, and better and better. He works hard every day. He’s doing what we ask him to do and he’s somebody we can put in there. He gives a little of a change from Emmitt (Williams). Emmitt’s more of a power guy. Coop’s long and lanky. He does some different things well. He can tip the ball around, affect some shots and he’s somebody that we can play. We’re going to use everybody we got. Marshall and everyone who is on scholarship because we think they’re good players. It’s next man up. I know it sound cliché and all that, but we’ve got other guys that when given opportunities are going to step up and do a nice job. That’s what we expect.”

On the fouls Darius Days picks up and his overall improved ability to not foul this season…
“His first and fifth fouls weren’t his fault. Those were other guys’ faults that he was over there helping. He has to come over and help. When you come over to help, there’s all sorts of rules in the charge circle. If you’re the secondary defender you’ve got to jump and all this stuff. If he would have just jumped on his first foul it wouldn’t have been a foul at all – it was the right call. If he would have just jumped in the air it wouldn’t have been a foul. Really, his fourth foul is the only one he got his money’s worth, where he tackled the kid trying to get the ball. But he’s been good. That’s only the second game he’s fouled out of all year. He’s been doing a really nice job of playing without falling. It’s one of those things where if you talk about it too much or think about it too much, it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re going to try to get our defense a little bit more solid, get our ball-screen defense a little more solid where he’s not put in rotation and he’s not put in some tough predicaments. Hopefully we’ll be more solid and able to keep him on the court.”

On what the team has done on the road…
“We’ve been good away from home. Sometimes going on the road, you’ve got heighten your sense of focus, heighten your sense of awareness of everything that going on. For whatever reason we’re on a good streak on the road, but every game is different. Every game’s a separate matter. This will be a different challenge than we face on Tuesday night at A&M. We’ve got to prepare well the next couple days and go up there ready to play. It will be a hostile environment. They’re having a red out. They’re backs are against the wall. They’re 0-3 and league play. They’re not an 0-3 team in the sense that they’re a very, very good team and disciplined team and coach (Kermit) Davis is a good coach. They’ll be ready. We’ll get their best shot. We’ve just got to make sure we give them our best shot.”

On what Aundre Hyatt has done in recent games to catch the eye…
“He does everything well. He does everything like you want him to do. He’s a tremendous help-side defender. He very rarely gets beat. He crashes the glass every time, offensive rebounding wise – he goes every time. If you go you’re going to get something. There’s not a lot of technique involved in it. If you just go and have a motor, you know, the ball’s going to fall in your hand a few times. He does a good job there. He’s a great passer and ball mover on offense. That thing moves. He doesn’t hold the ball. He’s shot faking and punching the next gap and hitting the next guy or he’s shooting it. The ball never sticks with him. He’s a good ball mover. He’s tremendous in zones. We’re going to see some zone against Ole Miss. I feel great about him – he’s made some huge plays out of the middle of the zone this year. I feel very good about putting him in against the zone and having him work against the zone. He does everything very, very well. He’s a cerebral player. He’s smart. He thinks the game. He’s somebody that we really trust and value and he’s playing well for us. He’s playing very, very well for us and he’s going to get some extended minutes. I think he’s going to play even better.”

On Ole Miss Guard Breein Tyree and his scoring ability …
“He’s been playing tremendously. He was out during the Florida game but I’m assuming he will be back. He’s one of the best guards and one of the most prolific scorers in our league. He does a lot of work in the mid-range, off of the bounce, and is very good at getting downhill, especially with his right hand.  He’s a tremendous player and it will be a very difficult guard for us.  We are going to have to team guard him and do a good job of trying to hold him down as much as we can.”

On shooting better from three in the game against Texas A&M … 
“We shot better, but I wish we didn’t shoot 38 threes. We have to do a better job of getting inside and not settling for so many threes. For whatever reason, we have shot it a lot better on the road than at home this year.  It wasn’t perfect but we will certainly take it.”  

On how Charles Manning Jr.’s injury effects the rotation …
“We will play (James) Bishop a little bit and like I said, I hope Marlon (Taylor) will be able to give us some minutes.  We are going to keep trying Coop (Courtese Cooper) and all ten guys we’ve got that can play will have a chance of going in.  A lot of it depends on how the game goes, how they are playing, and what the matchups are. We have a pretty good idea of who is going to play but sometimes the way the game goes can dictate your subs.”

On what Skylar Mays has improved upon the most this season …
“I think one spot he has gotten better at is that he is shooting a lot better from three.  That’s one area, but I think the area he’s improved most in is his patience. Last year everyone’s defense was built to stop Tremont (Waters) by trying to bottle him off of ball screens, but this year teams are focusing on Skylar.  It’s tough for him to score and get going on early in the game. Teams are building a wall, not letting him drive.  I thought over the last two games against Mississippi State and Texas A&M he’s been patient.  He’s understood that he has to take what the defense has given him, and they are keying in on him, especially early in the game.  It’s our job as coaches to move him around a little bit so they can’t build everything into him.  He’s done a good job of being patient, picking his spots, knowing where to strike, being a great teammate, and understanding that they have ten eyes on him when he drives the ball.  That means we have four guys that are open or will be put in rotation when he kicks it out.”

On getting to the free throw line at such a high rate …
“We’ve got to drive it in there to get the attempts.  You have to be aggressive and get the ball in the paint. If you don’t get it in the paint, you won’t have a chance.  They aren’t calling a lot of fouls on jump-shots, so you have to be able to drive it in there.  Our guys do a great job of hitting first, taking the contact to the defense, and finishing through contact.  It’s something that we work on in every individual workout that we have, every day in practice.  We are constantly working on driving it in there and finishing.”

On Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart’s shot selection …
“Their shot selection has been pretty good. We did score 89 points at Texas A&M.  They had one of the top three defenses in our league.  It’s natural that when you have the ball in your hands at the end of the shot clock like when Javonte (Smart) Skylar (Mays) and sometimes (Trendon) Watford does, there’s going to be a more degree of difficulty on their shots because the defense is built into them.  There’s maybe a few of those but those two are great players and are our bell cows, our guards, and we have to live with them. My whole thing is that they have to just put the thing on the rim and give us a chance on the offensive glass.” 

On Trendon Watford’s role … 
“He’s a stat stuffer. I think at Texas A&M he had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.  That’s what he can do for us, and it helps – when you have a team like A&M who runs a 1-2-2 triangle press – to have a big kid who can go over the top or in the middle.  He’s just a cerebral player that’s been around basketball all of his life with his brother (Christian Watford) being such a great player.  He comes from a basketball background where everywhere he has been, he has a good feel of what to do.  It’s just getting used to the pace, but the one biggest change is practicing harder.  Practice can help you with the pace of the game, if you slug your way through practice that’s how you are going to play in the game.  He is understanding that every possession matters more in practice and that is carrying over in the games.”     

On the football team winning a national championship …
“It’s huge for our national brand, it’s a big deal.  Everybody knows LSU so it’s pretty cool.  They’ve done a phenomenal job and hopefully we can continue to ride their coattails and use the success of the football team to help our program and all programs here.  Everything rises when something like this happens and I think that’s what we’re going to see.”