No. 10 Alabama, LSU both aim to bounce back

NCAA Men's Basketball

The last time Alabama and LSU faced each other, the Crimson Tide set a Southeastern Conference record by making 23 3-pointers in a 105-75 rout on Jan. 19 in Baton Rouge, La.

However, both the 10th-ranked Crimson Tide (14-4, 9-0 SEC) and the Tigers (11-5, 6-3) are coming off losses in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday as they prepare to meet again Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama saw its 10-game winning streak end with a 66-61 loss to then-No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday in Norman, Okla. The Sooners, who played without two starters, scored seven of the game’s final eight points.

“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said. “Oklahoma is a good team and we tried to warn our guys before the game that sometimes when a team is down a couple of players, it has a galvanizing effect. I thought they really brought it being down two starters.”

Oats might have a similar warning for his players as they face a Tigers team that they dominated from beginning to end in the first meeting.

Alabama had leads of 23-4 and 30-8 in the early going, led by as many as 31 points in the first half and never by fewer than 26 points in the second half.

It was a different story against the Sooners, though. Alabama led by one point late but shot 0-of-7 from the field over the final four-plus minutes.

“Not our best performance,” Oats said. “I told our guys that if we can learn from it, this will end up helping us in the long run. I like our leadership.”

The Tigers’ problems in the first meeting with the Crimson Tide weren’t limited to the defensive end. All four of LSU’s top scorers — Cameron Thomas, Trendon Watford, Javonte Smart and Darius Days — were held below their averages.

Days, who is also LSU’s top rebounder, is expected to miss at least two weeks because of a knee injury sustained in the Tigers’ 76-71 home loss to then-No. 10 Texas Tech on Saturday.

As bad as the loss to Alabama was, Tigers coach Will Wade said the defeat against the Red Raiders might have been even worse because his team had a seven-point lead with just over a minute left but didn’t score again.

“This is as disappointed as I’ve been all year,” Wade said. “I thought we played well enough to win against a very good ballclub and we couldn’t close it out.

“We just didn’t have some poise and some discipline we needed in some key stretches, especially in the last minute or so.”

Smart, a junior, tied his career high with 29 points and Thomas had 25, but Thomas missed a pair of shots when the Tigers were still in position to regain the lead or tie in the final minute.

“The loss hurts because we played well and had the lead at the end of the game and didn’t finish,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t the defense but our late-game execution. We have to work on that.”

–Field Level Media

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