Tigers press past Aggies.
LSU (10-6,1-4) won their first SEC game in the Johnny Jones regime against Texas A&M (12-6,2-3), 58 to 54 in the PMAC Wednesday night. The Aggies went up 9-0 before Coach Jones called a timeout with 17:39 left in the 1st half, and then LSU did what they do best, press. From that point on, LSU put full court pressure on the Aggies till the end of the game giving them 37 minutes of hell. It must have felt that way to Texas A&M who had a season high 24 turnovers (previous high was 19). LSU's defense was led by Anthony Hickey, who grew his NCAA leading steals per game number with a career high 8 on the night.
The press absolutely changed the game for LSU on a night where the shots were not falling. LSU shot 21.7% from beyond the arc, 38.1% field goals, and only 41.7% from the free throw line. Still, LSU was able to win the game by forcing 24 turnovers to their 11 turnovers. The Tigers took 19 more shots than Texas A&M and were able to do so even after losing the rebounding battle 38 to 32.
The Tigers were able to limit offensive rebounds only giving up 9 to their own 15, so the rebound number is skewed some due to LSU's 19 extra shots. Also impressive was LSU's Johnny O'Bryant playing 35 minutes and only committing 1 foul. He has struggled to stay in games due to foul trouble and LSU needed him for all 35 minutes.
Johnny O'Bryant had his second consecutive double double with 14 points, 10 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists, and 2 steals. He was 6 of 10 from the floor and continued to go to his post moves rather than his fade-away jumper. It has paid dividends to his game. Anthony Hickey ended the game with 10 points, 8 steals, 2 assists, 0 turnovers and a block to lead LSU's defense, but Shavon Coleman made his SEC debut. After struggling to start SEC play, Coleman was able to have 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals on 36 minutes. He was the point man on the press and used his length and agility to really pressure Texas A&M into some errant passes. To explain I'll use some pictures: Image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ufarfk9QlRU/UQE0M8IFJ4I/AAAAAAAAAfY/FqdR9l7W_kI/s640/PRESS.png
Picture A shows how the teams would be set with Texas A&M passing the ball in. Shavon Coleman would be guarding the inbound and Anthony Hickey would be the guy sitting at half court playing "defensive back". The two Guards would be playing either side of the court but normally allowing the pass to go in to the near side, while trying to steal the pass if the inbounds goes to the far side. Johnny O'Bryant was the deep man under the Tiger basket.
Picture B shows how LSU would react when the pass went in to the near side. Coleman would trap from the inside, and the near side guard would trap from the top. The far side guard would allow a pass to the side, but Hickey would deny any pass trying to move the ball forward. The pass would either go deep where Hickey was there to steal it or to the side where Picture C shows how LSU would react. The far side guard would trap from the top and Coleman would come over and trap from the inside. Hickey and the near side guard would then deny passes going forward but allow the pass to the side.
As simple as it sounds and looks, it has proven to be a tough task to beat. LSU's 19 steals was a season high and it was mostly due to LSU's extended time in the press. LSU was even able to get into a similar press off missed shots as Coleman would take the man with the ball and slow him down enough for the rest of the team to get into position. While the Aggies were able to beat the press a few times, LSU was able to control the pace of the game and it pushed the Tigers into the lead. Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ud1jtyXMJfc/UQE2Dz1Tc5I/AAAAAAAAAf4/SVvi5S4bFHQ/s640/aTm+SoS.png
The Tigers were led by Anthony Hickey and Johnny O'Bryant who both had outstanding games. It was very surprising to see LSU win with a nearly invisible Andre Stringer. He was only 1 of 4 from beyond the arc, but he was able to make two very clutch free throws to ice the game with 13 seconds remaining. LSU goes to Rupp Arena on Saturday to take on the Kentucky Wildcats, who have been shaky this year. The Texas A&M team LSU beat last night won at Rupp two weeks ago and the Tigers should go in confident in their press against the very young Wildcats.
There will be some mismatches in the post in the halfcourt, but LSU could speed the Wildcats up with a similar tactic that proved to work against the Aggies. For now, enjoy what Johnny Jones brings to the game. Realize that next season with the length and athleticism joining the roster, this press will be stifling. And appreciate the effort our players put in last night to get their first SEC win. Geaux Tigers! PHOTOS FROM GAME
This post was edited on 1/24 at 9:41 am