Alabama Basketball Heads To LSU

The University of Alabama basketball team travels to Baton Rouge, La., for its final road game of the 2008 season, a season which has found Alabama playing six of its final 10 regular season games on the road. The Crimson Tide, 15-14 overall and 4-10 in the Southeastern Conference, play at LSU, 12-16, 5-9, on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CST in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Alabama is 0-7 in its SEC road games this season.

The game will be televised by Cox Sports TV in the states of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.

It is the second of two regular season meetings between Alabama and LSU. Alabama won the first, defeating LSU 81-72 in Tuscaloosa on February 2. The Tide's win was led by 19 points and 17 rebounds from 6-foot-9 junior forward Richard Hendrix and 19 points from senior guard Mykal Riley.

"LSU is an athletic team," said Alabama sophomore starting forward Demetrius Jemison ((5.4 ppg/4.9 rpg). "They have two bigs who are very athletic. They're not traditional bigs. They like to step out and shoot the ball and put it on the floor a little bit, so Richard (Hendrix) and I are going to have to do a good job of containing them off the dribble. And they've got another guard, (Marcus) Thornton, who has really been hot in SEC play. He's making a lot of shots so we're going to try to contain him as well. Overall, we just have to be able to run with them up and down and contain the dribble penetration and not let Thornton get too many shots off.

Jemison and Riley go into the game as two of Alabama's hottest scorers. In back-to-back games last week, Jemison, a Birmingham native, scored a career best 19 points, to go with a career best 11 rebounds, in Alabama's 59-56 win against Arkansas on February 27 and followed it with 17 points at Ole Miss on Saturday. Riley scored 20 points at Ole Miss on Saturday, marking the third time in the last five games that the Pine Bluff, Ark., native has scored 20 or more points.

LSU comes into the game having won its last three, defeating Ole Miss, South Carolina and Georgia to put together its first three-game win streak of the season. The Tigers, who are tied at third in the SEC Western Division, close out the season at Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers are led in scoring by 6-foot-4 junior guard Marcus Thornton who is averaging 18.8 points and 5.7 rebounds.

"LSU is playing very well right now," said Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried. "They are extremely talented. They're very good players. I think their last three games they've done a great job. Butch Pierre has done a great job in the position that he's in. (Marcus) Thornton as a perimeter player, as a perimeter scorer, in our league would have to be considered one of the best if not the best one-on-one offensive type perimeter players. He's been a terrific scorer for them. (Anthony) Randolph and (Chris) Johnson, both inside, with Johnson coming back and now he's got a number of games under his belt and now he's playing at a high level as has Randolph as well. So, again, very good basketball team that we have to play on Wednesday."

This will be the first time Gottfried has faced an LSU team that was not coached by John Brady who the Tigers replaced a few weeks ago with interim head coach Butch Pierre, a Mississippi State product who was in his 11th year as an LSU assistant prior to the change.

"We haven't seen a lot of things different offensively. I think Butch is running a lot of the same things offensively," said Gottfried. "I think defensively they've done a good job here lately. But there's not a lot of recognizable differences in what they're running offensively. I think Thornton has stepped up. I think if you remember back when we played them the first time, that might have been Chris Johnson's first or second game back from a long (absence). He had been out for a long time. I don't know the exact numbers. I think he's getting better and better as well. He gives them an additional scorer offensively. And then both Johnson and Randolph around the rim, two very good shot blockers."

Alabama will return from Baton Rouge to play its final regular season game and final home game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against No. 16 Vanderbilt. That game time was moved to an afternoon game for television. Alabama fans are asked to come a few minutes early to that game in order to be in their seats for the Senior Day ceremony prior to tip. Players being honored include Riley, John Dill, Kyle Sellers and Greg Cage and senior manager Heather Mesalam. Cage has eligibility remaining, however the Academic All-SEC student will graduate in May, earning his degree in just three year's time (he was a redshirt as a true freshman). He has been accepted into the University of Alabama's School of Law in the fall and, because of the demands placed on first year law school students, has decided he will not play basketball next season.

Saturday will also be team trading card day where the first fans to arrive will receive a set of trading cards that include the 15 players and Gottfried. Tickets are available to Saturday's game and can be purchased through Alabama's official website, , by phone by calling 1-877-TIDETIX or at the Athletic Ticket box office in Coleman Coliseum.

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