BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU basketball team keeps winning close. Or, as Johnny Jones probably sees it, the LSU basketball team keeps winning.
Behind a 14-for-17 day from the free-throw line, LSU (7-2) took down Texas Southern 88-80 Saturday night. Forward Duop Reath paced the Tigers offensively, notching 21 points, and fellow forward Craig Victor II contributed a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the standout performances and a 10-point halftime lead, LSU trailed for 4:14 in the second half thanks in large part to 14 second-half fouls. Between Reath, Victor and sophomore guard Brandon Sampson, LSU played three players for 30 minutes or more, compensating for getting only 14 minutes from starting point guard Skylar Mays.
Here’s what Jones thought about his team’s performance.
What Johnny Jones said about LSU basketball’s win:
- We knew coming back off the game the other night and the turnaround for us, we knew that we would have to play a certain way against [Texas Southern] to get a victory. Instead of us really staying to form on the defensive end of the floor, we allowed them to dictate the flow in the second half. I didn’t think we were on point enough offensively and we started to settle.
- The good thing is we made plays there late. We made stops and free throws. I’m not sure if we took big steps today, but I’d be rather making corrections after a victory than a setback.
- One of the things, I think urgency has got to be a term that all five of our guys have to play with. That’s an area where we’ve got to develop the habits of being connected. We have the length, we have the strength. But it’s more about the commitment. I thought we did do it in stretches at the end, but it was because of the score at the time. If we play that way for 40 minutes, that’s a different game.
- We challenged [Reath] at halftime. We know he had more to offer us. I thought the second half, we gave him touches down on the block. We’ve got to make sure any time he’s isolated in the post area, we have to allow him to get touches. I didn’t think we established ourselves to in the post early.
- We think Kieran [Hayward] has done an excellent job of continuing. I thought one of their most effective offensive players, I think Kieran did a good job of coming in and playing over top of him. And then on offense when he had good looks he was able to take advantage of them.
- If you’re playing tight games like this, it helps. You’re used to winning them. But we have to raise our level. Certainly, we don’t play to perfection. We’ve got a long ways to go. But we feel like we have the type of guys to get there. They understand how important it is to play as a unit at both ends of the floor.
- I think we’ve got a good shooting team. I thought tonight those guys went up to the line where they needed to be poised. I thought it was the difference in the ballgame for us.
- I was hoping at some point today that we would’ve had the possibility to put [Branden Jenkins] in. We’re hopeful maybe Monday we may be able to get him out on the floor. He’s extremely close. So close that we did dress him. I was hoping to get the opportunity to put him in.
- We’re getting close. Craig, I don’t really look at his stat line as much as I look at his leadership. I think he has the ability and all those other things to be that guy. Craig possesses and offers this team a lot. His rebounding, his scoring was at that level tonight. But once he reaches that level with leadership, I think the team will take another step as well.