There are no easy road games in SEC basketball but if a person scanned Alabama’s schedule in the preseason, they might have hoped a visit to LSU could offer some respite.
Things haven’t worked out that way.
Alabama vs. LSU
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.
Records: Alabama 10-6 (2-2 SEC), LSU 11-4 (2-1 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
The Tigers, picked to finish last in the SEC in last November’s preseason media poll, are playing some of the league’s best basketball after the first two weeks of conference play, returning home after road wins at Texas A&M and, in blowout fashion, Arkansas.
That means Alabama, never popular in Baton Rouge, can expect a frenzied crowd for Saturday night’s 7:30 p.m. game on the SEC Network. New Tiger coach Will Wade encouraged as much on his post-game radio show following Wednesday night’s win in Fayetteville.
“We need people hanging from the catwalks Saturday night,” Wade said. “I mean, we need to try to sell this thing out if we can because our guys deserve it. We’ve positioned ourselves now, if we can take care of our home court, to really make a move.”
Wade, who replaced Johnny Jones, has largely engineered the turnaround with players already in place at LSU, although the one exception — his 5-foot-10 freshman point guard Tremont Waters — has been outstanding, averaging 16.8 points per game.
Meanwhile, Alabama — which is 0-3 in its true road games this season — continues to try and find the right chemistry to break through against the Tigers.
“The stats and video don’t lie,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We’ve been a team that’s had different body language, focus and concentration at home and we haven’t been good on the road.”
Alabama did show improvement with a home win against South Carolina last Tuesday. In that game, UA started big men Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens, bringing freshman John Petty and sophomore Dazon Ingram, starters for most of the season, off the bench. Ingram said on Friday that he could not foresee being out of the starting lineup for the rest of the season.
“Everyone wants to start, I understand that,” Johnson said. “It’s better to be on the court than off the court, it’s better to be in the game or out of the game. All the guys want to play (and) start.
“It’s up to me to decide what’s best for our team.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.