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GAMETHREAD: Basketball vs. Alabama, 8pm, SECN

The Tigers open SEC play tonight

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Basketball Tigers will begin their 2019 Southeastern Conference schedule tonight as they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the PMAC. The teams met twice last season, both big wins for Avery Johnson’s squad.

Quite the opposite of what you’d expect, Alabama beat the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday afternoon 77-75, improving their record to 10-3 (1-0 Southeastern Conference). The Tide boast a relatively strong resume in addition to that game, knocking off the likes of Arizona, Murray State, and Wichita State. Since suffering back-to-back excusable losses to UCF and Georgia State, the Tide are on a five game winning streak.

Under Coach Avery Johnson, Alabama has improved each year from 18, 19, and 20 wins with a Second Round appearance in the NCAA Tournament last year. Their current 10-3 record is the best thirteen game start to any of Johnson’s seasons.

If you remember last season’s home game against Alabama, you might’ve wanted to forget the 40-24 rebounding battle won by the Tide’s big men, led by Dazon Ingram’s 10 boards.

Coach Wade spoke with the media yesterday, and discussed how we should match up better with the Tide this time around.

“Last year we had some 6-4 guys out there guarding 6-10 guys. This year, we’ll have 6-10 guys guarding 6-10 guys. That will be a little bit of a help,” said Wade. “But you have to play well and do the right things when you’re out there. Just because you’re as tall doesn’t mean anything. You need to be executing how you’re supposed to be.”

Kira Lewis, Alabama’s star freshman point guard, has had some pretty big shoes to fill after Collin Sexton’s departure. So far he’s answered the call by leading his team in both scoring and assists, but struggled against Kentucky with a 4-for-14 shooting performance and 4 turnovers.

Changing topics, tonight’s contest serves as the annual “Gold Game,” in that fans are encouraged to wear gold, and the first 2,000 to enter the stadium will receive a free gold t-shirt. Fans will also be treated to a halftime performance by the legendary Quick Change, which is worth the price of admission alone. The game will tip off at 8pm and will be televised on the SEC Network. You can also listen in on 98.1FM, follow my live tweets @marq113, or join the discussion in the comments below.

Projected Alabama Crimson Tide Starting 5

#2 Kira Lewis - 14.8 PPG, 3.1 APG

#10 Herbert Jones - 7.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG

#12 Dazon Ingram - 8.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG

#23 John Petty - 10.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG

#0 Donta Hall - 11.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG

(Minutes per game is excluded because Bama’s data is garbage)

Projected LSU Tigers Starting 5

#4 Skylar Mays - 13.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 28.9 MPG

#1 Javonte Smart - 10.2 PPG, 2.6 APG, 28.5 MPG

#0 Naz Reid - 12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 22.8 MPG

#3 Tremont Waters - 12.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 31.2 MPG

#14 Marlon Taylor - 6.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 19.2 MPG