USA TODAY Sports
As February winds to a close LSU was able to stay above water in the SEC with a few key wins. With only five games left in the regular season, LSU can still move up in the standings if they can win at home. Against Alabama the first time around, it was a struggle that ultimately ended with LSU falling just short. Now they look for revenge against the second place Tide.
For a brief moment, it seemed like LSU fans were beginning to embrace the LSU basketball team and really get behind the team. As LSU was coming off some late wins against three different teams, including a ranked Missouri team, the Tigers went to Tuscaloosa hoping to keep the momentum going. It wasn't an overall embarrassment, not like last year when LSU was blown out in both the title game and a basketball game only days later, but it was a pretty damaging loss. LSU was able to recover and win a couple more after that, but the case with Alabama shows how far momentum could have taken the Tigers.
The Tide, meanwhile, were coming off their own embarrassing loss to Auburn, when they scored only 37 total points. Up next was the LSU Tigers, and it was an opportunity for LSU to pick up a win against a team that had to be demoralized after playing so poorly against Auburn. Instead, Alabama was able to come out hot and keep LSU from taking a late lead. Since that point, they've won another three in a row to jump to second place overall in the SEC.
If I'm Johnny Jones, the message I'm sending the team is simple; anything can happen in March, and March is starting early. It's possible for any team to win any conference tournament, SEC fans know this because of Georgia's highly improbable run in 2008. But getting a first round or double bye in the SEC tournament significantly improves the chances that a team has of being the champions. Florida has been vulnerable lately, while Ole Miss and Kentucky have really fallen off after strong starts. The door is wide open for any team, like LSU, that is completely off the bubble to make a run. Even if LSU isn't that team, the NIT could be a possibility with a strong finish.
The story for the Tigers lately starts and finishes with Johnny O'Bryant. He's playing at a level a Tigers player hasn't played at since Tasmin Mitchell did years ago. JOB3 can't do it alone though. The help wasn't there against Tennessee, though the defense was more to blame than the offense. Anthony Hickey isn't playing nearly as effectively as he should be at this point in the season. Charles Carmouche let the team down, as a fifth year senior, and broke team rules. LSU is fragile right now, and it could come apart if they don't win today.
Alabama actually comes into the game as slight underdogs, the line is -1.5 for LSU. Vegas thinks that the Tigers home court should give them an edge today, and I really hope it does, because LSU needs all the help they can get. The over/under is pretty average at 120, and I don't think that says much about the game other than that Alabama plays really, really slow. I'm cautiously optimistic today, but I'm hesitant because Alabama has some experience playing well late. Two years ago they finished very strong and nearly stole an NCAA bid. Last year they did get one, though they were out in their first game. It's a team that knows what they have to do at this point in the season, and I don't know if LSU is at that point yet.
Game time is set for 12:30 CT and the game can be seen on the SEC Network (In Louisiana: Alexandria-KLAX-DT2; Baton Rouge-WAFB; Lafayette-KADN; Monroe-KARD; New Orleans-WUPL; Shreveport-KMSS) and ESPN3.