LSU hoops dominate early, hang on late for SEC opening win
HEAR MORE FROM THE COACHES:
LSU Head Coach Will Wade
“Great win. I thought the students were awesome. I thought that made a huge difference in the crowd, having the student section packed and into it. We appreciate them. We know some of them have class early in the morning, but we appreciate those guys coming out. It makes a big difference for us, especially on those weeknight SEC games where sometimes it’s harder for our fans across the state to get here. It makes a big difference when the students turn out like that, so hopefully they’ll continue to turn out for us. We appreciate them and it gives us some energy and our players feed off that.
Overall I thought the first half we played extremely, extremely well. I thought the defensive effort in the first half was about as good as we’ve had all year against a high-level opponent. The second half was a little more helter skelter. Their zone changed the game. We got stagnant against the zone. We didn’t move the ball the way we needed to against the zone. That’s my fault. I didn’t have us as prepared as we needed to for the zone. I thought Kavell (Bigby-Williams) was a huge difference maker in the game. Five blocks, a double-double. As a difference from last year to this year, having him. I said in the offseason if we would have had him last year we would have won more games. He was a huge difference maker tonight. We don’t win tonight without him. I thought our guard play was tremendous. I though Ja’Vonte (Smart) did a great job. (Darius) Days came in and gave us some extra sparks off the bench. It was a total team effort which is what it takes in SEC play. It was good to get our first conference win.”
On Ja’Vonte coming off the bench for the first time and scoring or assisting on the final 19 points of the first half…
“I thought he was great. I thought having that big lineup out there in the end of the first half, I thought we guarded them really well with Ja’Vonte and Emmitt (Williams) and Skylar (Mays). I thought we were able to guard them really well and turn our defense into offense. He played really well. It’s probably the first time he’s come off the bench in six or seven years. Probably longer than that. I told him to sit with Coach (Bill) Armstrong and to get a flow of the game. He saw things better and had a little more pop to him. I was very pleased. I thought he played just a tremendous game, maybe his best game of the season. He’s worked really hard”
Alabama Head Coach Avery Johnson
“I want to congratulate Coach (Will) Wade. They were outstanding tonight. They were full of energy and did a nice job of protecting their homecourt. They came out in the first half and shot the ball extremely well. A couple of bank threes, you know that is how you get rewarded when you play hard. They were energized, we did a nice job on (Naz) Reid in the first half but they had other guys especially (Ja’vonte) Smart as well as (Darius) Days who came off the bench. A magnificent job by LSU as they were the better team tonight. I give our team credit, we did fight back a little bit and in the second half we found a line-up that had some continuity and chemistry as well as competitive spirit and fortunately we were able to cut the lead down. Then (Tremont) Waters threw a baseball pass, he should be on the baseball team at LSU. He threw a left-handed curveball that split the trap and the catcher caught it, it was a strike. Give them credit, we’ll just have to bounce back and get back to work.”
On LSU’s improved personnel from last season….
“I just think even though Reid did not score as much, he is a handful inside. Obviously, I know Ja’vonte Smart as he played for one of my college teammates so I have been watching him for a long time. And they have guys like Days and (Emmitt) Williams coming off the bench and giving them energy. I think we are a much better team than we showed tonight and we need all of our guys to show up and play and it is my job to get them ready. Also, as far as Tremont Waters, his body has changed. It looks he is a little stronger this year. He is not getting knocked off his spot as much this year and his balance is better. He split a couple of our traps so they are a much better-looking team.