Who: Alabama; 14-4 (9-0) vs. LSU; 11-5 (6-3)
When: 6 pm CT, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
Where: Coleman Coliseum; Tuscaloosa, AL.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
Alabama and LSU come into this game off of losses in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge where they both came up just short against ranked opponents. Bama lost on the road to Oklahoma by 5 and LSU blew a late lead against Texas Tech and lost by 5 as well. They will both look to get back on track in this game Wednesday night. This game is very important for both schools, but for different reasons. LSU’s NCAA tourney hopes are beginning to look worse as the season goes on and they severely need a quality win. This is their opportunity. Alabama, on the other hand, is firmly in the NCAA tourney for the first time in years, so at this point it is all about seeding. Alabama had a chance to put themselves at a 1-seed with a win against Oklahoma, but unfortunately that did not happen. Now it is all about finishing this season strong, winning the SEC, and seeing where they land on Selection Sunday. In the previous matchup in Baton Rouge, Alabama shot lights out from deep and set the SEC record for 3’s made in a game with 23 in a 105-75 win. LSU must defend better overall, but especially from the perimeter if they even want a chance at keeping it close. The Tigers are allowing 74.1 PPG (according to TeamRankings) this season which ranks toward the bottom of the NCAA. Part of that is because they are letting their opponents shoot 29.6 times from deep and make an average of 9 per game. Both statistics are ranked in the 300’s nationally. That is exactly what Alabama wants to hear as they rank 3rd nationally in attempts and makes from deep. Neither team will come into this game full strength, although LSU will be closer to it than Alabama will be. LSU F Darius Days (12.1 PPG and 7.9 RPG) will miss time including this game due to injury. Alabama has a few players who are not 100% healthy, and it started catching up with them this past Saturday against Oklahoma. Alabama missed Jordan Bruner badly as they struggled to rebound the ball, which was a key reason their 10 game winning streak finally came to an end. LSU comes into this game ranked 327th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, and that could be even more of an issue without Darius Days. Alabama must take advantage of that and capitalize.
LSU Players to Watch:
G Javonte Smart (15.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.4 RPG)
F Trendon Watford (17.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 7.1 RPG)
G Cameron Thomas (22.3 PPG, 1.4 APG, 2.6 RPG)
F Shareef O’Neal (3 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
LSU has been terrible defensively all season and does not guard the perimeter well enough for them to beat Alabama. Expect Alabama to get back on track, the fans to get in Trendon Watford’s head once again, and for Alabama to roll in Coleman Coliseum.
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