February 9, 2013

Tide returns home to face hot LSU team

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama gets a home-court opportunity to put perhaps its most abysmal performance of the season behind it Saturday in playing host to LSU.

But it might take more than just a victory to allay the concerns UA coach Anthony Grant expressed following the Crimson Tide's 49-37 road loss to Auburn Wednesday. Alabama scored just 12 points in the second half in falling to 6-3 in Southeastern Conference play.

"I told the guys that we all need to look at ourselves in the mirror because this game was completely on us in terms of the energy we need to play with in a game that meant as much as this one meant," Grant said after the game.

Alabama picked a hot opponent for a backs-to-the-wall game, however. The Tigers team that will visit Coleman Coliseum tonight is on a three-game SEC win streak and playing with far more confidence than the Auburn team that snapped a losing streak against Alabama.

"Well, (we're) obviously dealing with a very talented LSU team," Grant said. "They come in having won four of their last five, including three in a row, so they are playing well right now. We are excited for this opportunity for a chance for us to get a win here at home."

LSU coach Johnny Jones said Alabama's defense is a concern for the Tigers.

"They get after you defensively. A lot of times what they do is create their offense from their defense which gives themselves some easy scoring opportunities," Jones said. "I think that's something that they really rely on, that defensive pressure to create easy scoring opportunities for them."

Alabama's defense will have to contend with one of the SEC"s top point guards in Anthony Hickey, who leads the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, has LSU's best assist-turnover ratio at 66-32, and a team-high 61 steals.

LSU's three-game win streak hasn't come easily, defeating Missouri by just three pooints, MSU by one point, and Vanderbilt by one. Alabama built its 6-3 SEC standing in much the same fashion, winning several close games before being embarrassed at Auburn.

"I think, you look across our league, there have been a lot of close games for everybody in our league. We've been fortunate to win a few," Grant said Monday. "Teams like Tennessee and Vanderbilt could be right there in terms of some of the games they've lost. Our league is highly competitive."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.



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