BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The LSU Tigers will be looking to continue its success at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when they host Texas Southern on Saturday in a game with an early start time of 5 p.m. CT.
Tickets are available at LSUtix.net but fans can bring a new unwrapped toy that will be given to the “Toys For Tots” campaign and receive a free admission for the contest. The upper concourse ticket windows will open on game day at 3:30 p.m. and toys can be dropped off at that location. As usual, LSU students with a valid ID will receive free admission.
The first 2,500 fans will receive a copy of the just completed Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl poster commemorating the LSU football team’s Dec. 31 game with Louisville.
The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network around the state with Chris Blair and Henry Hays on the broadcast while Kevin Fitzgerald and Pat Bradley will call the contest on the SEC Network as the third game of their four-game schedule of contests on the Network.
LSU is 6-2 and coming off a 70-66 win over North Carolina Central University in LSU’s first game in 14 days. Texas Southern is 4-6 and will enter coming off a loss at Cincinnati, 96-58. The Tigers are coached by Mike Davis, who took Indiana to the NCAA championship game in 2002. Davis is in his fifth season at TSU.
The Tigers win over NCCU on Tuesday marked the 11th time in Coach Johnny Jones tenure that the Tigers have won when down by five or more points at halftime. LSU was actually down 13 points to the Eagles in the first 10 minutes of the contest. Opponents are averaging 4.1 points more than LSU in the first half of play in the eight games this season, but LSU is averaging almost eight points a game more than opponents in the second half and shooting over 50 percent from the floor.
Antonio Blakeney had 18 of his season high 27 points in the second half against NC Central and he has now posted 20-plus point games in each of the last four contests at the Maravich Assembly Center. Brandon Sampson had his fifth double figure game of the season with 13 and Duop Reath got back in double figures, hitting 7-of-9 field goals for 14 points.
In the last game Blakeney (17.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Sampson (11.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg) started with freshman Skylar Mays (5.4 ppg, 4.4 apg) at the guard positions with Reath (13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Craig Victor II (7.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) at the forwards. Victor pulled down 11 rebounds in the NCCU game.
Both teams have quick turnarounds from this contest as Texas Southern travels to Fort Worth to face TCU Sunday night while LSU will host 8-3 Charleston on Monday night at 7 p.m. in the Maravich Center.
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Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Thursday afternoon before practice and here are some of his comments:
HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“We’re excited and looking forward to another great challenge on Saturday after a come from behind victory against a really good team in North Carolina Central. We feel that we’ll have another similar challenge with a Texas Southern team that we feel has the ability, talent and experience to finish at the top of their league. They’ll be battling for the championship at the top of their league at the end of their season. They’re a team that can be a NCAA Tournament team. We certainly know that we’ll have to be prepared. They’re big, strong, and quick. They have really good guard play and have one of the leading rebounders if not the leading rebounder in the nation. Our preparedness will have to be one of readiness for a really tough team.”
On team being ready to go against Texas Southern …
“Well the only thing we do is make sure that guys understand how explosive they are and what can happen if they get going and become a confident basketball team what can happen in games. They’re scorers and the challenges that they've had are not indicative of the type of team they have and the team they have the potential to be. They have new players that just became available to them that are playing now that have made them better. We know that we have to make sure we’re playing extremely well. We certainly can’t look at someone else’s scores as an indicator of how we have to play because we have to really play against ourselves and make sure we continue to improve.”
On slow starts this season …
“ … We understand some people we’ve played have shot the ball extremely well and we’ve had to make adjustments. We’re fortunate that we're able to do a good job at halftime and throughout the game making adjustments with our team defensively and even on the offensive end with trying to get better shots, but at the same time take away some our opponents strengths. I’d hate to get off to a great start and not finish well. But I’m glad we’ve had the ability to finish strong in games. Teams sometimes come out of the gate and play extremely well, not that we're playing bad, but we certainly have to give credit to our opponent and their ability to come out and execute and make plays at a high level.”
On Antonio Blakeney’s second half performance and ability to score when needed…
“He has an uncanny ability to really score and make plays. Sometimes guys can get in a rhythm and you can say some guys have a look and he possesses that and that's been throughout high school and throughout the summer. At the end of last year I thought he showed that in several of our games against Mississippi State and Florida and even in the conference tournament against Tennessee. I think he had a nice streak of games and unfortunately became ill during the tournament and that certainly hurt us, but I think he’s picked up where he left off last year.”
On depth and ability to interchange players…
“Well the good thing is I like our team and like the depth on our team and I think certain guys offer something different to or team. You got Sims who’s a little bigger and stronger and has been able to play inside because of the position he played in high school but he has the ability to guard on the perimeter as well. So we have the opportunity to give different looks and that's why these games have been good for us.”
On what he tells the team about slow starts…
“We have to continue to get better. We have to make sure that we come out and are poised and patient on the offensive end of the floor. On the defensive end you have to play at a certain level because teams come out and are going to play a certain way. We have to be cognoscente of the fact that it’s important that we come out with what we call a level five mentality on both ends of the floor. We consider it a championship type mentality and as we continue to practice we’ll continue to get better at it. After a layoff we didn't know what to expect coming out. We saw exactly what transpired and fortunately our guys were able to continue to fight and we weren’t discouraged but encouraged by the effort.”
On Texas Southern…
“I know their coach coached at Indiana (Mike Davis) and took them to Final Four. His team will come in extremely prepared and ready to play. I don't think they'll look at any indication of the last team. They'll come in with a mindset that they’re coming in here to compete at the highest level and we have to be prepared for that.”
LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS