BATON ROUGE, La. — Anyone who’s ever said there’s no such thing as a bad win didn’t watch the LSU basketball team Tuesday night.
The Tigers continued their horrible habit of slow first half starts, trailing North Carolina Central 43-36 at halftime, before stringing just enough offense in the second half to secure a 70-66 win.
Sophomore forward Antonio Blakeney did most of the lifting for LSU, scoring 27 points, 18 of which came in the second half, behind an 11-for-17 shooting night. But beyond Blakeney, LSU didn’t receive contributions from many other players. Namely, LSU’s bench accounted for just two points on the night.
After the game, LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones had this to say about his team’s up-and-down performance.
What LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones said
- We knew coming in that one we were going to have a formidable opponent tonight. These guys have played in some tough venues against some tough teams and they’ve played extremely close. We knew coming off a 14-day layoff that we probably wouldn’t be sharp. But I thought if we could play with energy and effort out of the gate it would help. I thought NC Central did a great job, shooting over 60 percent in the first half, but I thought our guys did a great job in the second half of playing with effort and hold them to 29 percent shooting.
- I think energy is there. I think some of our opponents that we play against they come in well. They made some threes. They got a couple of backcourt cuts on us. But we were able to adjust to what they were doing in the second half. We played with a little bit more length and played tighter on the ball and made it tougher for them to make plays.
- I thought Brandon [Sampson] made an excellent job of making two huge plays in the stretch to end the game for us. We’ve got to put him in the position in the beginning of the game to get that sort of contribution from the start and be a tone setter.
- After a 14-day layoff, for [Blakeney] to be able to come back and play that way really says a lot about him. We needed that tonight. I think that’s the way he finished the year for us last year. When he gets it going, I think his teammates realize it.
- I thought Kieran Hayward played with a great deal of effort, extremely hard. I think [the bench] might’ve not been effective in terms of scoring, but were very effectively. Unfortunately, Jalyn Patterson was a little ill but we got some contributions. I thought those bench guys did a good job on defense and were effective.
- We’ve got a tough schedule. The teams were playing I look at them potentially being in the NCAA tournament. We have a tough, talented experienced basketball team coming here Saturday. And then Charleston we know they’re very tough. Having those three home games after a 14 day layoff is going to be good for us.
- [Jenkins] is getting closer. We don’t have an exact timetable but we look forward to getting him back. He’s a great defender. He plays with a great deal of energy. We need a team of those guys. And he certainly will add to this team when he’s available for us.