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November 30, 2012

Tigers rally past Seton Hall

Literally and figuratively, LSU stole a basketball game from Seton Hall on Thursday night.

Trailing by double figures early in the second half, Tigers coach Johnny Jones elected to go with a fullcourt press. The Pirates were not ready for that defense and lost all of their momentum.

With Shavon Coleman delivering the key baskets down the stretch, LSU rallied for a 72-67 victory against Seton Hall in a SEC-Big East Challenge game at the PMAC.

"The full-court press is a part of our game plan," Jones daid. "We were trying to get more into it. One of the reasons we hadn't been in it much was because of our lack of depth. We like to extend our defense up the floor. It creates havoc for people. We can turn folks over and we were able to do that tonight.

"We didn't really have a choice. It was the first time that we've been in that position all year that we needed to go to it. We stayed with it. The press is something we'll have to make sure we have in our arsenal and are able to pull out."

The Pirates, who led by eight points at halftime, doubled their advantage to 48-32 with 16:40 left in the game. Seton Hall still had a 52-39 lead with less than 13 minutes to go. That's when LSU's pressure really began to have an influence.

The Tigers scored 13 consecutive points - five by Anthony Hickey and four by Coleman. A basket by Shane Hammink tied the score at 52-52 with 8:57 remaining in the game. Over the next three minutes, both teams enjoyed a five-point advantage.

A three-point play by Coleman and a 3-pointer by Malik Morgan put LSU on top 63-58 with 5:29 remaining. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Aaron Cosby and Fuquan Edwin gave the Pirates a 64-63 lead. A short jumper by Coleman with 2:15 to play put the Tigers in front for good.

Seton Hall, which committed 17 of its 26 turnovers after LSU went to the press, didn't get off a shot on any of its next three possessions. Meanwhile, the Tigers built a six-point lead as Coleman hit one foul shot and both Andre Stringer and Charles Carmouche sank a pair of free throws.

"We didn't practice the fullcourt press much, but we did great in it," said Anthony Hickey, who had six of LSU's 16 steals. "We knew at halftime that we were going to press. We had aggressive hands and were able to get our hands on a lot of balls.

"We turned them over and we were then already in the frontcourt, so we were able to get the ball inside. We fought all the way to the end. This game should give us confidence."

The Pirates had a slower tempo which was to their benefit in the first half. Seton Hall shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, including 40 percent (4-of-10) on 3-pointers. Meanwhile, LSU was bothered by the Pirates' zone defense as it missed 10 of its 11 3-point attempts in the first half.

"Seton Hall executed well in their halfcourt sets," Jones said. "They were getting the looks they wanted. It was tough to turn them over. That's another reason we went to the press. When they didn't turn the ball over in the second half, they rushed shots. We rebounded the ball and were able to fast break."

Jones used a small lineup for most of the second half with Coleman and Johnny O'Bryant in the post, Stringer and Carmouche on the wings and Hickey at the point. After shooting 32 percent (11-of-34) in the first half, the Tigers made 48 percent of their field goal attempts (14-of-29) in the last 20 minutes.

"We didn't think they were going to come out and play that much zone," said Coleman, who scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half. "We just had to run our own zone offense. We executed well in the second half."

O'Bryant came to life after halftime. He finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. O'Bryant had seven points and eight rebounds in the last 20 minutes. He sat out just two minutes in the second half.

"They came out in a zone and the first half was slow for me," O'Bryant said. "In the second half, Shavon was working at the top (of the lane) and I was working the block. We fought hard tonight. Coach Jones coached us great and all the guys responded."

Jones put Andrew Del Piero in the starting lineup instead of Eddie Ludwig. Jones wanted to keep O'Bryant out of early foul trouble, so he had Del Piero guard Seton Hall center Eugene Teague. Del Piero played eight first-half minutes and contributed two points, two rebounds and one blocked shot.

Ludwig never got into the game. According to Jones, the matchup with a physical frontline was not favorable for Ludwig. Then, when the Tigers switched to the fullcourt press, it was necessary to use a small lineup with Coleman in the post.

Hammink and Carmouche started at the two wing spots. Hammink played just six minutes and made the one second-half basket which tied the score and one of three foul shots. Carmouche only scored eight points, but he had seven assists and four steals.

Stringer and Morgan made solid contributions off the bench. Morgan, who played 16 minutes, made two key 3-pointers in the second half. Stringer missed eight of his ten field goal attempts, but made four straight foul shots in the last 40 seconds. He ended with ten points.

Hickey played all but two minutes at the point and finished with ten points. He struggled with his shooting as he was 3-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-6 on 3-pointers. As a team, the Tigers were just 4-of-20 from behind the 3-point line.

"We were really looking forward to this game because it was going to be an indicator of how much our guys have improved," Jones said. "We obviously know that we've got a lot of work to do. I always ask our guys prior to the game if they are able to play for 40 minutes. They were able to do that.

"They weren't dropping their heads. They were never frustrated. They stayed in the game and stayed focused. Then, some good things happened for us at the end."

LSU will take 12 days off form fall semester exams. The Tigers will wrap up their season-opening six-game homestand on Dec. 11 when Chattanooga comes to the PMAC.


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