After avoiding a near-disastrous third straight loss Tuesday night to Missouri, the No. 25 ranked LSU men’s basketball team (18-6, 9-2) travels to Tuscaloosa to play the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-11, 5-6) for the second time this season.
The two met in Baton Rouge on January 29 and it was one of LSU’s most complete performances of the year. LSU had a 51-33 lead at halftime and ultimately won by 14. Emmitt Williams and Alabama native Trendon Watford had monster games. Williams led all players with 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Watford scored 17 and set a career-best with 15 rebounds.
February hasn’t been to kind either LSU or Alabama. LSU infamously snapped Vanderbilt’s 26-game losing streak in SEC games, then blew a critical game at Auburn three days later.
Alabama, on the other hand, has lost three of four games by a total of nine points. The Tide lost consecutive home games to open the month, losing by four to Arkansas and one to Tennessee. Alabama has also gone to overtime its past two games, beating Georgia by three but losing to Auburn by four Wednesday evening.
Coleman Coliseum has been a house of horrors for LSU. The Tigers won last year’s game in Tuscaloosa 74-69, but it was only a handful of wins LSU has enjoyed in Coleman in recent years. Last year’s victory was LSU’s fourth win at Tuscaloosa in 20 seasons. The Tigers haven’t won consecutive games in Coleman since 1991 and 1992.
“We haven’t won there back to back since ’91-’92,” Will Wade said. ‘Going on 30 years. I guess we’ve only won there five times since ’92. It’s been a rough spot for us.”
LSU is expected to have junior guard Charles Manning Jr. back on the floor. Manning hasn’t played since breaking a bone in his right foot against Texas A&M. Manning will provide some much-needed depth at guard but is expected to be on a 10-12 minutes restriction.
“Charles is very, very helpful defensively. What it hopefully allows us to do is rest Javonte (Smart) and Skylar (Mays) so that they’re not playing 38 minutes a game and we can get a little more natural rotation.”
With seven games left in the regular season, the SEC’s final standings are still up in the air. LSU is still tied with Auburn and Kentucky for first place in the league, while Alabama is two games behind Florida for a double-bye in next month’s SEC Tournament in Nashville.
The game tips off at 3pm on ESPN2.