TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will welcome the LSU Tigers on Saturday night at Coleman Coliseum. The contest is set to tipoff at 7 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.
"Well, [we're] obviously dealing with a very talented LSU team," UA head coach Anthony Grant. "They come in having won four of their last five, including three in a row, so they are playing well right now. We are excited for this opportunity for a chance for us to get a win here at home."
The Crimson Tide (14-8, 6-3 SEC) has won six of its last eight games coming into Saturday's showdown. However, Alabama dropped its most recent contest, falling 49-37 at Auburn last Wednesday night. Junior guard Trevor Releford and sophomore guard Rodney Cooper led the Tide with 11 points apiece.
Releford comes into the Auburn game as the team's top scorer. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford ranks eighth in the league in scoring at 15.1 ppg. He also tops the squad in steals per game (2.0) and ranks second on the team in assists (2.3 apg) and three-point shooting (40.0 percent). Releford leads the SEC in free throw shooting (86.2 percent) and is sixth in steals per game.
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game. Coming into Saturday's contest, Lacey tops the team in three-point percentage (.418), threes made (41) and attempted (98) and assists (3.4 apg). Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contribute 27.2 points per game, or approximately 43 percent of the team's 62.7 points per game.
Meanwhile, Cooper also averages double figures with 10.7 ppg. He leads the team in offensive rebounding (2.1 orpg) and total field goals attempted (209) and ranks second in rebounds per game (4.3).
LSU (13-7, 4-5) comes into Saturday's affair as one of the hotter teams in the league. The Tigers have won three straight and four of their last five in league play entering its game at Alabama.
Four players average double figures for the Tigers, led by sophomore guard Anthony Hickey. Hickey leads the team in scoring (12.5 ppg) and assists (3.7 apg). Defensively, he leads the nation in steals per game (3.4) on the year.
Sophomore forward Johnny O'Bryant III is second on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and leads the team in rebounds per game (8.3). Junior forward Shavon Coleman (11.4 ppg) and junior guard Andre Stringer (10.9 ppg) also average double figures.
As a team, LSU is sixth in the league in scoring offense (71.1 ppg) and ranks 12th in scoring defense (67.9 ppg). The Tigers also lead the league in steals per game (10.3) and rank third in three-pointers made a contest (7.5).
Saturday's contest will mark the 169th meeting in series history, making the Tigers the third-most common opponent in UA program history. The Crimson Tide owns a 101-67 lead in the all-time series and has won five of the last six games over the Tigers, and 10 of the last 13 overall. Alabama has also won eight straight games over LSU in Coleman Coliseum. The last time the Tide lost to the Tigers at home came on Jan. 31, 2004.
The contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.
ALABAMA HEAD COACH Anthony Grant
On what he saw after challenging his team to take a 'good look in the mirror' after Auburn game:
"We have to play a lot better. We didn't play well. Anytime you look at the offensive numbers that we put up, the defensive numbers that we gave up, it going to be tough to win in those situations when you don't bring your best. We have to understand that."
On how do you pick up the pieces from a loss like Auburn:
"Every game counts as one, whether it's a big win or a loss. It is one game; we have a very talented LSU team coming in our building, so our mindset is on LSU. They are playing their best basketball right now so we've got to do a really good job. It starts on the defensive end as always for us. They have a lot of guys that shoot the ball extremely well from the three point line. They are very good in transition and have size and physicality up front so we're going to have to do a great job on the defensive end first and foremost."
On whether Devonta Pollard is passing up shots or not:
"I don't think so. Watching the film, I don't think so. We never go in and try and designate the number of shots that each guy is going to get, the game kind of takes care of that. I think all these guys will tell you, the only thing we ask is to execute and take good shots. That's what we try to do."
On LSU guard Andre Stringer:
"Stringer has been through the league a couple of times. I am really impressed with the way he shoots the basketball. Obviously, he's extremely dangerous from three. He's got unlimited range. He's done a really good job for their team on the defensive end as well. I think they, right now, lead the league in steals. Between him and [Anthony] Hickey I think they are doing a terrific job of creating havoc from a defensive standpoint with the way they get after the basketball. Both of them both really shoot the ball well."
Senior guard Andrew Steele
On what he saw when he looked in the mirror:
"What coach said is right, but after every game, win or lose, we always try to find a way to get better as a team. That's always our focus so that's what we are trying to do."
On his leadership and what he's taken upon himself:
"To try and do the same things that I've been doing. I think the way I play, with the right attitude and mindset; I can have a contagious effect on my teammates. I kind of take that role personally, but the biggest thing is to keep encouraging them and to help them recognize that we still have a lot to play for. What happened on Wednesday we can't do anything about, but we just have to look forward and take care of one game at a time. For me, I've been in situations like this before, so I think my experience can kind of help them get through these kinds of situations."
On LSU guard Andre Stringer:
"He's a really good player. He impacts their team in a lot of ways. He's one of those guys that you can't necessarily shut him out, you hope to contain him and make it tough for him and limit his opportunities. He's a good player and we just have to do a good against him and the rest of their team."
On the state of the team after the loss to Auburn:
"Obviously, losing hurts no matter who it is. When it's against Auburn, it hurts a little bit more. The thing is there is nothing we can do about it. The game is over, we can't go back and change it but what we can control is what we do going forward. What we can't do is let one loss turn into two or three. Our only focus right now is a good LSU team tomorrow, so anything other than that is pretty much irrelevant at this point."