Johnny Jones meets the media — Feb. 21 edition

On Thursday, LSU coach Johnny Jones met with reporters ahead of the Tigers’ tilt against Alabama on Saturday.

Normally, the session runs between 15 and 20 mintues. Yet Jones was under the weather, nursing a lemon sports drink and slower in answering our queries than usual.

So after eight or so questions, the day was done. Here’s a transcript of some questions he fielded from the press corps.

Opening Statement:

“Despite the setback at Tennessee, I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought we played against a team that’s probably playing as well as anyone in our conference right now. They’re playing extremely confident. They shot the ball well. You look at their numbers from the three point line. I think (Jordan) McRae was averaging about 28 or 29 percent from the three point line, and he wound up going six for six, which was a huge night and a big difference maker for them that evening. I think our guys are still encouraged and understand that there were some good moments, some good things that did happen for us that night. We just have to make sure that we continue to grow as we compete against a very tough Alabama team. They’re very good defensively and extremely sound on the defensive end. Offensively they just continue to make plays and win basketball games. We look forward to that challenge on Saturday.”

On playing against the physical guards of Alabama:

“I think you just have to continue to try to stay inside and make them play over top of you. We have to play with a sense of urgency and toughness. We’re hopeful that we do a better job of helping defensively in terms of our rotations. We’ve got to continue to rebound the basketball against them.”

On Charles Carmouche not playing against Tennessee:

“He was available. There were no issues, nothing wrong with him the other night. I’m just a firm believer and I think we do a tremendous job in terms of giving instructions. I think it’s important that when we have good constructive criticism that we respond in certain ways. If not, we address those issues and move on.”

On what it means when people say Alabama winning ugly:

“Just that they’re capable, or I guess they call it kind of ‘mucking’ the game up a little defensively. They play a different style defensively. They play extremely physical. They try and take you out of your offense in certain areas. You can break them down and maybe take them away from some things that they’re trying to do offensively, but they’re still capable of making some plays that are necessary at the end of ball games, and they’ve been able to do that.”

 On LSU also being considered to “win ugly” as well:

“Well, we’ve been credited with being able to play that way as well. We understand that. Because of some of our numbers and how we play, things we do defensively, switching it up, changing from press to jumping into zone at times and some things we’ll do in man to man. We need to do that to give ourselves a chance, and we’ve been able to be successful sometimes doing that. If we weren’t successful in terms of being on the winning side, at least we’ve been able to really stay close, give ourselves a chance and stay in striking distance. You look at the Tennessee game and the war on the boards, I think they were plus 10 against teams coming into the game. We won the war on the boards and didn’t turn the ball over particularly too much, only I think 12 or 13 times. We shot a really decent percentage to be able to win on the road and just couldn’t get it done, but I thought because of some of the things that we did we were able to be right there.”

On Anthony Hickey passing him on the career steals list (Hickey now has 140, Jones 136):

“I didn’t see that. I would have taken him out earlier if I had known. I don’t think that was anything we had to worry about. He’s got a couple of more years left, too. As tenacious and ferocious as he is guarding the basketball, I think it says a lot about him. I think he’s going to pass a lot of guys up on that list, and I’m so excited and happy for him.

“I’ll see him today, and I’ll really congratulate him because I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s great. I think there were only two areas, steals and assists, that I was still kind of lingering around in, but I’m dropping pretty steadily because of the play of these guys.”

On whether length on the outside hurt the Tigers defensively vs. Tennessee:

“It wasn’t so much about the closeouts. I think you look at (Jordan) McRae, he’s got tremendous midrange game. He’s one of the leaders in SEC scoring. He’s excellent off the bounce playing confidently. What we were trying to do was make sure that we stay inside of them and make sure that they have to go over the top of us. They had some shots out there. You talk about going six for six, that’s an incredible night for you when you’re shooting about 29 percent, especially coming off the type of emotional game that they had just finished against Kentucky. So, I don’t think that had anything really to do with the outcome of the game. I thought our guys played extremely well and hard. They just wound up playing some extended minutes. Guys that came off the bench gave us some quality minutes, (Shane) Hammink and Corban (Collins). Those guys, I thought, gave us some quality minutes the other night.”