When LSU (20-8, 9-6) takes on Ole Miss (19-9, 10-5) Saturday afternoon in the PMAC, the Tigers will have a lot on the line, trending in to the NCAA Tournament but still with work to do to solidify an at-large bid.
Keying the Tigers' recent resurgence, a span that's seen three wins in four games, is a shakeup in the starting five head coach Johnny Jones pulled the trigger on six games ago.
On Thursday Jones pointed to defense in particular as being bolstered by the move, one that's brought former sixth-man Tim Quarterman and freshman Jalyn Patterson into the first five with LSU opting for a three-guard lineup.
“Defensively we get off to the starts we’ve needed probably because Tim’s been our best perimeter defenders the last two years," explained Jones. "The ability to start him off on key guys helps. Jalyn Patterson is healthy now and Keith Hornsby is strong and capable of defending bigger guys out there.
"I think that’s helped us defend the three-point line better than we possibly have in the past as well.”
The numbers show an improved defensive club. Jones' squad is conceding an average of 63.0 points over the past six games, with only Kentucky (71) eclipsing the 70-point plateau.
Another factor both Jones and Hornsby point to when considering the latest LSU turnaround is Patterson, who continues to play ahead of his age.
Since being named a starter on Feb. 7 versus Alabama, Patterson is averaging 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and has turned it over only nine total times. The Georgia native has also connected on 10 of his 24 three-point attempts (41.7%) over the Tigers' last four games.
“When I was a freshman I was charging 100 miles per hour all the time," Hornsby reflected, somewhat in awe. "People wanted to slow me down all the time. I just thought I had one speed, just fly in the lane, got some charges. Even though we did both play at a very high high-school level, I think he’s definitely farther along than I was as a freshman. Even though I did have some skills, but he’s definitely shown some composure as a freshman that’s rare that I didn’t have.”
Hornsby, who prepped at prestigious Oak Hill Academy (while Patterson was a two-time national champion at Montverde Academy), addressed a number of other topics leading up to Saturday's meeting with the Rebels.
Check it all out in this video below, where Hornsby begins speaking about Patterson and moves on to playing alongside Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey and the keys to playing Ole Miss from the first time around in Oxford.
Patterson, lineup change boosting LSU
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