It might have gone unnoticed to some in a disappointing 67-64 loss Saturday against Texas A&M, but LSU sophomore center Darcy Malone may have earned more playing time with his effort against the Aggies.
Malone, a 7-foot Aussie, logged a career-high 21 minutes in his second career start. He scored four points, two off his career high, and had three rebounds. Malone also had a steal and blocked one shot.
The fifth starter has been an ongoing experiment for LSU coach Johnny Jones. He’s tried freshmen Elbert Robinson III and Aaron Epps and senior John Odo this season, but may have settled on Malone for now.
“I thought Darcy did an excellent job giving us positive plays and playing positive minutes,” Jones said. “He didn’t do anything to hurt himself in terms of us counting on him going forward.”
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, a Metairie native and Holy Cross High School graduate, had a special visit back to his home state Saturday.
Kennedy defeated LSU for only the second time in his 17-year head coaching career and snared his first win in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when the Aggies outscored the Tigers 20-6 over the final nine-plus minutes.
“I haven’t won (in Louisiana) in a long time,” said Kennedy, who coached at Southeastern from 2000-05 and led the Lions to the NCAA tournament in his final season there. “This is home for me, so it’s a special win all the way around.”
Kennedy, who has a 272-233 record in four head coaching stops, is 2-5 all-time against LSU.
Piling them up
Since failing to get a blocked shot in a 64-61 loss to Clemson on Nov. 24, LSU’s Jordan Mickey has been on a real tear.
It continued Saturday when he matched his career high with seven blocks in the loss to A&M. He has at least six blocks in five of his past seven games and is averaging 4.9 blocks in the past 11 outings.
Mickey leads the Southeastern Conference with 3.9 blocked shots per game and ranks second in the NCAA.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a two-time All-American guard for LSU when he was known as Chris Jackson, drew a loud ovation from the crowd of 10,278 when he was introduced in the second half.
Abdul-Rauf set an NCAA scoring record for a freshman when he poured in 30.2 points a game in the 1988-89 season and went on to average 29.0 points a game in two years at LSU.
Abdul-Rauf wasn’t the only celebrity in the house.
Former Southern University star and NBA standout point guard Avery Johnson was in attendance as well. Johnson, who also was a head coach for two NBA teams, has a son on the A&M team.
Avery Johnson Jr. is a freshman point guard for the Aggies, but didn’t play Saturday. He has appeared in 10 games and averages 1.7 points.
“He’s loving it,” said Johnson, a New Orleans native. “He’s always wanted to play for one of the bigger schools in Texas, so I’m happy for him.”