BREAKING NEWS: per numerous Alabama sources, Tide starters JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford, and Andrew Steele have all been suspended indefinitely this afternoon and sent home from Baton Rouge for a violation of team rules. They account for nearly 70% of Bama's scoring this season.
Keep an eye on Roll 'Bama Roll for any updates on this.
Rivalry Week finally has some relevance for the LSU Tigers, as their 2012 nemesis from Tuscaloosa returns to Baton Rouge for a 6:00 CT tip. LSU fans everywhere, whether they are basketball fans or not, might have some interest in this game, as it was the Alabama basketball team that embarrassed the LSU team only days after the national championship.
Alabama comes into the game on a three game winning streak, and all three of the wins were over SEC West foes. However, they aren't at full strength, as second leading scorer and rebounder Tony Mitchell is out for disciplinary reasons. It is the second straight game he will be out, but they were able to win on the road in Auburn already without him.
The first game between these two teams wasn't all that close for the final 25 minutes. LSU was able to keep pace for most of the first half, but hot shooting and an offensive collapse by LSU was the difference.
LSU, as has been the case for about a month now, is still looking for that signature SEC win. The home schedule has been good to the Tigers so far, as the only loss was to #1 Kentucky, while they have defeated three of the five SEC West teams at home already. Ironically, both Alabama and Mississippi State are the upcoming games, so we will know soon if LSU is able to at least go .500 against the West this year, a considerable improvement from years past.
Although a loss on Wednesday, LSU did play pretty well. The first half of the game was picture perfect LSU basketball, ugly, slow, and close. Holding a good offensive team to under 30 was a victory for the first 20 minutes, but once Festus Ezeli was able to establish himself down low it broke down the LSU defense. None of the three different players that Trent Johnson tried to use to guard him worked. A zone defense might have been worth a try, but as we saw later, Vanderbilt has more than capable shooters to break down a zone as well.
Essentially though, it was only a couple of minor runs that separated the teams. Jeffrey Taylor was able to hit back to back threes to break the game open the first time in the second half, and later it was John Jenkins that stomped out a late rally by LSU. On a good day, LSU might've got lucky and had them miss those shots, but it wasn't Wednesday.
What to look for: I'm hoping that today's game is really tough for Alabama. I would expect the students to be on their A game with it being a priority point night. Alabama has been a very up and down team this year, going from a five game winning streak, to a four game losing streak, back to a three game winning streak. LSU will have to expect their best play coming into this game, despite Mitchell being out.
Vegas is giving Alabama three points today, with an O/U of only 121. For some reason, both of those numbers seem really intriguing. Because I think LSU will win this game, it's a given that I would take the points. However, I also think that with the fever pitch I expect the fans to have, we might see an uptempo game, something that Vegas doesn't think will happen. I would take the over today.
As previously mentioned, game time is set for 6:00 CT. The game is a Gold Game, and 7500 shirts will be given away before the game tonight.
This is a national TV game on ESPN2, and because of that it is also available on Watch ESPN.
-Credit kleph with the Alabama suspension updates.