GREENSBORO — If you want a glimpse of North Carolina's second-round opponent No. 8 Louisiana State University just pull up the beginning and ending moments of the Tigers' win Thursday.
Against ninth-seeded Butler LSU logged a steal and uncontested lay-up in the opening minute and then iced its win with another theft in the game's final seconds.
In all" LSU collected 11 steals and blocked eight shots as the Tigers' effort on the defensive end led them to a 75-71 first-round victory.
""Coach (Trent Johnson) 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 senior guard Marcus Thornton said after the game.
If you don't play defense" you don't get in the game. It's as simple as that.""
LSU's defense is headlined by Thornton" Tasmin Mitchell and Chris Johnson. The trio blends its length and athleticism to lock down the opposition.
Thornton stands at 6 feet 4 inches and is the smallest of the three. Then it is Mitchell at 6 feet 7 inches followed by Johnson at 6 feet 11 inches.
Though their defense stole the show against Butler the three can win games on the offensive end.
All three Tigers shot 50 percent or greater from the field against Butler as they combined to score 56 of LSU's 75 points.
Thornton led the way with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
And while North Carolina coach Roy Williams didn't watch much of the Tigers' win" he saw enough to make note of Thornton's strong play after the Tar Heels beat Radford.
""Thornton" I think is just a big-time big-time player" Williams said. I thought he was sensational at times today. I did not see any of the second half.
""They had the TV on in the room" I was doing my preparation. I'd look up and see" but I wasn't really paying attention to it.""
In the Tar Heels locker room" senior forward Danny Green didn't have too much to say about LSU either. He just said that he knew LSU was a good team and that the players didn't scout Butler or LSU before their game Thursday.
Once they do watch some of LSU's game tapes North Carolina will find a team similar in build to conference foe Florida State: another team that thrives on its defensive intensity and supremely athletic players.
The Tar Heels split two tough games against FSU this season winning 80-77 at Tallahassee and losing 73-70 in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
It wouldn't be a huge surprise if LSU proves as tough an out too.
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