LSU beats Bethune-Cookman 79-63
Balanced Tigers start, finish hot in final preconference contest
By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Like much of the preconference schedule, LSU’s final game before SEC play was consistently inconsistent.
The Tigers (9-2) wrapped up nonconference play with a 79-63 win over Bethune-Cookman (5-10) on Saturday night, in a performance that was equal parts dominant and sloppy. Charles Carmouche’s 17 points and Shavon Coleman’s fifth double-double of the season (14 points, 12 rebounds) paced a balanced LSU attack in a chippy conclusion ahead of Wednesday’s SEC opener at Auburn.
“We needed that before going into conference play,” said Carmouche, who added seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals. “A game like that prepares us and makes us tougher. This was a good game before conference game.”
LSU used a 9-0 start to pull ahead by as many as 21 points in the first half thanks to lights-out shooting, hitting 13of their first 17 shots against the BC zone on the way to 30-9 lead with seven minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats, meanwhile, were as cold as LSU was hot, starting just 2-of-16 from the field.
“We got off to the great start that I would have liked to see us get off to,” LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. “I thought offensively we were really good and efficient. We made plays on the defensive end. We were getting stops, pitching shutouts, and that’s something we were looking forward to doing.”
But Bethune-Cookman wouldn’t go quietly, switching from the zone to a full-court press to force some turnovers on a suddenly unfocused LSU squad. While the shots from the field wouldn’t fall, the Wildcats worked to get to the foul line, hitting 17-of-19 from the charity stripe in the first half – including 10-of-10 during in the last 4:48 of the first half to close the opening period on a 17-4 run for a 38-30 LSU lead at the half.
“We lost our focus, and there wasn’t that attention to detail,” Jones said. “Bethune-Cookman became a more confident basketball team. They made plays and cut into our lead at the half.”
“We have to keep our foot on the pedal like we normally do,” added Andre Stringer, who continued his hot shooting on 2-of-3 shooting from 3, but also struggled with five turnovers. “We got a little careless, and they got their hands on the ball a few times. They started pressing, and we got loose with the ball.”
The confidence gained from the late first-half run carried over for Bethune-Cookman in the second half, as they maintained the pressure and kept the contest close. A deep Carmouche three late in the shot clock pushed the LSU lead back to ten, but Carmouche soon made his way to the bench with four fouls after an altercation led to double technical for him and BC’s Brandon Stewart.
The Tigers responded well without Carmouche, stretching the lead to 53-38 on an Anthony Hickey three at the 12:25 mark. But Wildcat forwards Alex Smith (10 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 blocks) and Adrien Coleman (24 points, 7 rebounds) asserted themselves on both ends and cut the lead single-digits, 67-58, on a Coleman tip-in with 2:31 to play.
“I didn’t expect them to play as tough and physical as they did,” said Carmouche. “They came out and wanted this game. They played hard from the jump.”
Bethune-Cookman turned up the pressure in the final two minutes even more, but LSU, rather than stall, went straight at the press, using an 8-0 run over 47 seconds in the final two minutes for the final margin.
“We finished the game off the way that we needed to by getting steals, making big plays down the stretch and knocking down our free throws, which were all very important to us,” Jones said.
Hickey added 14 points in the win, and Andrew Del Piero added a career-high 10 points in 21 minutes.
“Ten points feels good, but at the same time these guys score ten points every game,” he said, pointing to his teammates. “It is not that big of a deal. I try not thinking about it too much.”
Johnny O’Bryant III returned from injury to play five minutes near the end of the first half, scoring two points on 1-of-3 shooting. O’Bryant has been out of action since just before the New Year with an ankle injury.
“We wanted to try to see what he was capable of doing today and get some reps under his belt,” Jones said. “He didn’t get the clean looks and wasn’t finishing strong because he didn’t have the lift that he normally would have to power the basket.”
Jones added that O’Bryant practiced Friday but wasn’t 100 percent. O’Bryant should be cleared to play Wednesday against Auburn, but his minutes could be limited, Jones said.
LSU vs. Bethune-Cookman – January 5, 2013
LSU Player Quotes
G ANDRE STRINGER
On controlling the game during the first half versus the second half …
“We have to keep our foot on the pedal like we normally do. We got a little careless, and they got their hands on the ball a few times. They started pressing, and we got loose with the ball.”
On playing aggressively without fouling …
“We definitely try to be aggressive on the defensive end. We were caught a few times with our hand on them when they would go up for shots. That is something that we normally don’t do, and that is something that is not going to help us in the future. As far as pressuring the ball, we have to do that every game. We just have to cut down on the fouls.”
G CHARLES CARMOUCHE
On excitement for conference play …
“Yes. I am very excited. I have been the old guy during this preseason. I’ve played a lot, and I’ve been a leader. Our young guys have gotten a lot of playing time. I think it is about to be a whole new game. I hope we are ready. I’m proud that we are 9-2. I’m excited, it’s a new year. We are going to keep proving people wrong and keep playing hard. We are going to start this Johnny Jones era off the right way.“
On the change of LSU’s tempo because of Bethune-Cookman’s press
“I didn’t expect them to play as tough and physical as they did. They came out and wanted this game. They play hard from the jump. They started slow, but they just continued to be play tough. We needed that before going into conference play. A game like that prepares us and makes us tougher. This was a good game before conference game.”
F SHAVON COLEMAN
On being a starter and getting more playing time …
“It is just the same for me as coming off the bench. It’s more minutes, but I am getting use to it. Hopefully, we will get Johnny (O’Bryant III) back when conference games start.”
C ANDREW DEL PIERO
On his career-high 10 points …
“Ten points feels good, but at the same time these guys score ten points every game. It is not that big of a deal. I try not thinking about it too much.”
LSU BASKETBALL HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“I thought after a long layoff we got off to the great start that I would have liked to see us get off to. I thought offensively we were really good and efficient. We made plays on the defensive end. We were getting stops, pitching shutouts and that’s something we were looking forward to doing. What we talked about prior to the game was making sure that we were able to give a great 40-minute effort, stay focused and keep attention to detail, because it would be important to play the game that way leading into conference play next week. After a long layoff, we did those things early in the game. I thought after we got up by 18 or 20 points we lost our focus, and there wasn’t that attention to detail. Bethune-Cookman became a more confident basketball team. They made plays and cut into our lead at the half. I thought the same throughout the second half. They became a more confident basketball team. We weren’t as sharp as we would have liked to have been, but we finished the game off the way that we needed to by getting steals, making big plays down the stretch and knocking down our free throws, which were all very important to us. Overall, if you would have told me we would be 9-2 at the end of our pre-conference schedule, I’m not sure what I would have thought, or where I thought we would be right now. I knew we had played enough challenging games and teams and wasn’t sure if we would have our chemistry right. I really applaud our team, and the effort that they’ve given throughout the early part of the season to have us sitting here 9-2 prior to conference play.”
On Johnny O’Bryant III’s play…
“We thought he (O’Bryant III) was able to catch the ball well. We thought he had one-on-one opportunities there in the post. He just didn’t get the clean looks. It’s not any fault of Johnny’s. He hasn’t really practiced. Yesterday, he may have practiced but wasn’t able to go 100 percent. We wanted to try to see what he was capable of doing today and get some reps under his belt. It was tough, it’s Division- I basketball. Those guys are competing on the other end. He didn’t get the clean looks and wasn’t finishing strong because he didn’t have the lift that he normally would have to power the basket. They (Bethune-Cookman) did a good job of defending the rim.”
On the depth of the front court…
“We have been really pleased. We recruited Shavon (Coleman) to come in and probably play more of a wing spot. He’s going in and playing more of a power forward. He’s done a tremendous job for us. He had another double-double today. With Andrew (Del Piero), you can’t say enough good things about him. I thought he got off to a great start. He was 3-for-3 from the field at halftime and had three rebounds. He defended around the basket, forced them into some tough shot situations and rebounded the ball well. We’re really pleased with those two guys, and the emergence of them. When Johnny’s (O’Bryant III) healthy, we are a lot better there than we thought we would be at this time of the year.”