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November 18, 2013

Better defense is LSU goal against UNO

The defensive numbers are not pretty after LSU's first two basketball games of the season.

The opposition averaged 83 points and shot 44 percent on field goals, including 34 percent on 3-pointers. When UNO visits the PMAC on Tuesday night, defensive improvement is one of the Tigers' goals.

"We have got to lock down on defense way more," said point guard Anthony Hickey, who has a team-high six steals after two games. "We have to get stops as a team and as a man. We have to get back on defense."

LSU was a little more effective on defense in its 88-74 victory against Northwestern State than it had been in the two-point loss at Massachusetts. The Demons made 40 percent of their field goal attempts, including 27 percent on 3-pointers. Still, coach Johnny Jones wasn't satisfied with the defense.

"We have got to get better on defense," said Jones at his pre-practice press conference Monday afternoon. "It was tough to defend some of the shots Northwestern State was going to take. But, I was concerned with some of their penetration.

"They got to the rim not only in halfcourt sets, but also off the break. We didn't do a good job getting back in transition. Northwestern State zipped the ball up the floor and attacked us. That shouldn't happen."

While Hickey was making his usual number of steals away from the basket, freshman Jordan Mickey did an outstanding job protecting the rim. In his first two college games, Mickey blocked 11 shots. In the first two games of his LSU career, Shaquille O'Neal had no blocks.

"Jordan was a rangy shot-blocker in high school," Jones said. "He has been compared to Tyrus Thomas. That's the impact Jordan can have in games."

It is not expected that freshman Jarell Martin will play against UNO. There is a better chance that Martin, who has a high ankle sprain, will see some action against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday night.

"Jarell worked a little bit Sunday," Jones said. "He is questionable, at best, (Tuesday). We'll see where he is (Tuesday) morning. We miss Jarell's rebounding when he is not in there. He can create opportunities for other guys because he is difficult for teams to match up with at the 'three.'"

Tim Quarterman, another freshman who started the first two games, had a rough time. Quarterman made just two of seven field goal attempts with only one assist.

"Tim is a typical freshman," Jones said. "He has a learning curve to go through. These games are great for him. We need both Tim and Hickey to give us minutes at the point."

Hickey, a two-year starter at point guard, came off the bench the first two games. Reportedly, Hickey was late for a tutoring session which may have figured into Jones' use of him.

"Anthony's accepting of the responsibility of his role and his handling of it says a lot about him," Jones said. "He has not pouted and he has had a positive effect on his teammates. I am concerned with his input in the game whether he starts or not. He certainly will start if he continues like he is doing."

Hickey scored 27 points and handed out 13 assists in the first two games. He did not shoot the ball particularly well - 40 percent from the field, including 35 percent on 3-pointers. He missed two of his three foul shots.

"I don't think I shot the ball well the last game," Hickey said. "I took a couple of tough shots late in the shot clock. I think too much sometimes. I know that's what it is at the free throw line."

Hickey has not been bothered by being a bench player. Hickey played 29 minutes in each of the first two games. He averaged 32 minutes per game last season when he was a starter.

"I am being focused while I am sitting on the bench," Hickey said. "I am waiting for coach (Jones) to call my number. I stay engaged trying to get a look at what's happening on the court. I bring extra energy off the bench. I am more of a speed guy when I get in there.

"I'm faster than Tim, more up-tempo. Tim sees the floor better than me. I told Tim that (playing point guard) is not as easy as everybody thinks. He'll get in rhythm and he's going to get better."


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