Hickey shined against home-state UK (USA Today)
LSU's landmark win over No. 11 Kentucky earlier this week is significant for the program, but perhaps no player took it to heart more than Bluegrass State native Anthony Hickey. The Tigers' point guard opens up on beating the Wildcats and LSU's goals this season.
Life has been good for LSU point guard Anthony Hickey in the aftermath of the Tigers' 87-82 win over No. 11 Kentucky on Tuesday. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., exorcised demons from the past two and a half seasons with the victory, one which has also temporarily righted the ship for the Tigers.
But that doesn't mean Hickey (or LSU) is satisfied.
In the following interview with TSD's Ben Love, Hickey opens up on what the latest win means to him, what the team's goals are for the rest of the season and how LSU is still learning to play together 19 games into the 2013-14 season.
Publisher's Note: The first three questions were asked by another reporter, but after that it turned into a one-on-one Q&A.
Question: Arkansas is up next for you guys, and you know they’re going to go to their press. Is it a little easier to break the press at home?
Anthony Hickey: Yeah. Well, it’s sort of the same on the road. It’s just about executing, and players have to be in the right spots so if I do break the press I can make the easy pass.
Question: At what point did you all put the Kentucky game behind you?
AH: We celebrated a little bit in the locker room after the game, but then you have to get back focused because we’ve got another game Saturday. We enjoyed it that night. We had fun talking afterward, excited about a great win, but you’ve got to get ready for Arkansas coming in. You can’t take anybody lightly.
Question: Did the team play better against Kentucky or is it really just as simple as making shots?
AH: I can’t answer that. The game was just going our way. We were making shots from the beginning. They made their run at the end. It was just a good game all the way through. Even though they made their run in the second half, we were just able to make plays. (We’ve had) experiences from the last few times we’ve played when we weren’t able to make plays (down the stretch). Well, we were able to make plays and guys stepped up.
Ben Love: Do you feel like that was the best win LSU has had since you’ve been here?
AH: Oh yeah. We’ve had so many, and I’ve hit a couple of big shots. But yeah, other than that Missouri game or the three-overtime Alabama game, I liked that UK game, too, because we’re winning right now and we can just keep rolling after this big win. It could take us so far.
BL: I know you’re probably tired of answering this, but as a Kentucky guy, what exactly did that mean for you individually?
Hickey remains LSU's go-to guy in the clutch
AH: A lot of people have reached out to me and said, ‘You finally beat ‘em.’ That’s something I always wanted to do – beat my home team. It was the school right up the road. Just me getting to compete against those guys is a blessing. I was happy I got to play against them again, and I was like ‘I’ve got to beat them at least once while I’m here. They’ve been beating up on me since I’ve been here. We gotta get ‘em, Johnny (O’Bryant).’ That’s something we were able to do. It was a great game and being able to compete like that is just an honor.
BL: When I look at this LSU team, sometimes it seems like there are guys that play two different games. There’s a group that plays better faster, and there’s a group that’s better in the post and in the halfcourt. Do you ever feel that struggle or pull as a player?
AH: Yeah a little bit, but then again all that matters is closing out games. At the end, when it starts coming down to the wire, we’ve got to make plays. It doesn’t matter who starts the game. It doesn’t matter who ends the game. We’ve just got to execute. That’s the whole thing.
BL: Do you feel like you’re maybe in the group that likes to play faster but you’ve adjusted to a halfcourt style?
AH: No doubt. I’ve adjusted my game. I know when to go fast and when to slow it down. I learned that when Coach (Trent) Johnson was here. Coach Johnson and Coach Johnny Jones play two different styles of basketball. Just me experiencing both of them has helped my game out a lot – knowing when to slow it down and when to go. It was good that I got to experience all that in my early stage of college basketball.
BL: This was the same time last year that Johnny O’Bryant really kicked it into another gear. What is it about this time that makes you have to give it like that?
AH: Everything is on the line. Our goal this year is to get to the tournament. I don’t want to make the NIT. I want to make the tournament. We’ve got to bring LSU basketball back. One thing we’ve got to do is show people we can make the tournament and be one of them teams. We’ve got to win out and just win games. I look back and I’m tired of being the underdogs. People talk about they ain’t going to win. Now we’re just focused on proving them wrong and winning games.
BL: Why can this year’s team do it when the last two couldn’t?
AH: I’m not really sure. It’s just this year we’re clicking. We’ve got a lot more talent that came in to add onto what was already here. We’re just putting the pieces together. Coach Jones is doing an excellent job of bringing guys in and surrounding each other. Now we’re just being a family and having fun out there. When we were losing, we weren’t having any fun. Now that everything is back clicking right, Coach always is reminding us to have fun out there on the court.
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