Defense plays key role in LSU's win

March, 19, 2009
03/19/09
4:36
PM ET
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- LSU coach Trent Johnson has instilled in his players that "defense wins championships; offense wins games." The Tigers had both in their 75-71 win over Butler in the first game, but it was hard not to notice how the defense took over in the latter stretch of the game.

LSU used its size advantage and had eight blocks to Butler's one. It also had 11 steals.

"Coach came in, his first day at LSU he talked to us, and he told us the defense will be our M.O. the whole year, and if you don't play defense, you don't get in the game," said guard Marcus Thornton, who complemented his 30 points with four steals and six rebounds. "It's as simple as that. So we all came together as a team and tried to play team defense. … And we locked up at the end of the stretch."

Six-foot-11 center Chris Johnson made four of those blocks, despite playing with three fouls.

"The Xavier game, I really took it personally, because guys were scoring on me at will, and doing whatever they wanted to," Johnson said of the Jan. 24 80-70 loss to Xavier. "I just wanted to take pride in my defense a little bit more. … I still have some work to do."

He'll get a chance to go back to work Saturday in the second round, most likely against No. 1 seed North Carolina.

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