NOTES: Tigers hold a block party

LSU defense thrives in 71-65 victory against Arkansas with 12 rejections.

Most of the success the LSU men have had this season is tied into their solid defensive play, and Saturday's 71-65 triumph against Arkansas was no exception.

The Tigers limited the Razorbacks to 40.4% shooting (23 of 57) and an even more miserable 3-of-13 shooting day from 3-point range.

While the result was favorable – Arkansas scored 9.5 points under its season average – the method was a little different for LSU (13-9, 3-5 SEC).

A big component of the Tigers' defensive performance against the Razorbacks was the blocked shot, and that hasn't been the case much the last two seasons.

LSU's 12 rejections were its most since in a game the Tigers repelled 13 against Washington State on Dec. 27, 2008. LSU recorded 12 blocks three times later in that 2008-09 season against South Carolina, Xavier and Alabama and averaged 7.6 a game.

Justin Hamilton matched his season-high with four blocks and padded his season total to 34, which leads the team. Storm Warren sent three shots the other way, his season-best.


Keeping it light

With an open week between his team's worst loss of the season and the start of a key month with five home games, LSU coach Trent Johnson knew there would be a hangover early last week when the Tigers got back to practice.

So the always stoic Johnson did something to lighten the mood.

Thirty-five years removed from his playing days at Boise State, Johnson turned back the clock one day at practice, donning LSU practice gear and mixing it up with his players.

The lasting memory? The shoes. Johnson, who confesses to wearing size 13, slipped on a pair considerably larger.

"He was wearing some size 19s or something like that," LSU guard Ralston Turner said with a smile. "Those were some boats."

Johnson said he wanted to lighten the mood because he knew there were some open wounds after a 74-50 loss to the top-ranked Wildcats.

It worked.

The triumph against Arkansas Saturday was among the Tigers' best performances of the season, especially on defense and on the glass.

Two Tigers snatched 11 rebounds – Hamilton and Johnny O'Bryant – as LSU won the battle on the glass 43-39.

"Boy, we needed that," said Johnson, whose team had lost five of its six games and three in a row to ranked foes. "Obviously, after our last game vs. Kentucky, we were pretty fragile make no mistake about it. They found a way to fight through during the course of the week."


Notes & quotes

Ralston Turner: Offense came alive with 16 points against Arkansas
  • Turner delivered his best offensive day since a season-best 22 points against Marquette with 16 points against the Razorbacks. In a season-long shooting slump, Turner eschewed the 3-pointer for the most part (he was 1-for-2) and looked for drives and cuts inside for most of his work. He was busy at the free-throw line, hitting 7-of-8.
    "I felt that lately I have been settling for a lot of jump shots," Turner said. "I tried to get locked in and get in the lane. Whether it was the pass or the shot, I didn't have it in my mind, just tried to score. The guys did a good job at setting screens, and we all did a good job of executing on offense. I just tried to make plays and help other people."

  • Andre Stringer's streakiness as a long-range shooter is officially headed in the wrong direction. The 5-foot-8 guard has missed 10 in a row from 3-point range after missing all seven attempts Saturday against the Razorbacks. That dropped his season percentage from outside the arc to 32.6% (28 of 86).


    By the numbers: 33-to-23

    Free throws were a difference in the Tigers' triumph over Arkansas, much to Johnson's delight and Razorback coach Mike Anderson's chagrin.

    LSU was 21-for-33, which was its most makes and attempts in an SEC game since they made 27-of-39 against Mississippi State on Feb. 11, 2009.

    Johnson saw the stat as proof that his team relied on the inside game and attacked the rim better.

    "I thought we did a good job," he said. "I think it's evident that we went to the free-throw line 33 times, so obviously we're getting something done in the post. I thought Ralston did a very good job of attacking the rim."

    Anderson's viewpoint was a bit different after his team got to the stripe only 23 times, evidenced by his reference to "a few controversial calls."

    "They shot 33 free throws and we shot 23," Anderson said with an edge in his voice. "That's controversial to me."


    Quote of note

    "It was huge. We had a tough stretch the past few weeks. It was important for us to get this win because it's good for us. This is the last month to try and make a push and this is the first step."

    LSU sophomore guard Ralston Turner after the Tigers' 71-65 win against Arkansas


    Strategy and personnel
    This week's games


  • At Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. Wednesday

    Key matchups: LSU's defense has held steady most of the SEC season, but faces another stiff challenge against a great 3-point shooting team on the road. The Tigers have to contain Vandy's John Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer with 19.7 points a game and also the most dangerous 3-point threat, hitting 43.8% and a league-best 85 from deep range. LSU will also have to generate a big offensive night against one of the league's least daunting defenses: The Commodores rank 10th in the SEC in both field-goal defense and scoring defense and have surrendered 73 points or more in four of their last five games, including three SEC losses.


  • vs. Alabama, 6 p.m. Saturday

    Key matchups: The key for the Tigers in the rematch with the Crimson Tide is O'Bryant. He was in street clothes for the first matchup and LSU didn't have the manpower to keep pace in the paint as Hamilton and Storm Warren combined to knock down only 6-of-21 floor shots between them. The Crimson Tide also cleaned up on the backboards, winning that battle 39-29. Since coming back from hand surgery, O'Bryant is averaging 9.7 points and 8 rebounds a game and has freed Hamilton up as well. LSU has other concerns against Alabama, notably not allowing point guard Trevor Releford duplicate his 20-point performance in the Tide's 69-53 triumph.

    Futures market: Swingman Eddie Ludwig has been around for three seasons, but his performance Saturday could signal a new competition for playing time – and perhaps even a starting job.

    Eddie Ludwig: Came off the bench to give LSU a spark with 12 points
    Ludwig came off the bench against Arkansas after starting the previous two games and responded with 12 points to match his career-high, including his first 3-pointer in nine games and a 3-for-3 day at the free-throw line.

    "Coming off the bench, you have to understand your role," the 6-9 junior said. "I knew I had to come in, make some solid passes and kind of run the offense through me."

    Ludwig could re-emerge as a starter in place of Stringer, whose shooting woes have reduced his effectiveness.


    Player notes

  • Turner notched only his second double-digit scoring game in SEC play with 16 points against Arkansas to inch his league scoring average to 7.3 points a contest.

  • Anthony Hickey came up with three steals against the Hogs to increase his league-leading total to 50. It was his 12th game this season with three thefts or more, the fourth against SEC opponents. Hickey also recorded three assists vs. Arkansas, his 17th game with three or more, and has 88 for the season.

  • Senior forward Malcolm White sat out the Arkansas game as he served a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul against Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis on Jan. 28, which resulted in an ejection. White's punishment was imposed by Johnson, who made the decision the day after the incident. White sent letters of apology to both Davis and UK coach John Calipari.

    White, Isaac will be back against Vandy

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