Men's Basketball Opens SEC At LSU
Alabama travels to Baton Rouge with a 10-4 record in non-conference play under first-year head coach Anthony Grant. However, of the Tide's four losses, three have come to teams that are currently ranked (Florida State, Purdue, Kansas State). The Tide wrapped up non-conference play on Monday with a 67-50 win at Toledo for its third straight win on an opponent's floor dating back to last season.
With an already small roster that been in constant flux due to injury and illness, the Tide has been continually adapting and growing with each game and Saturday's SEC opener will be another test in the team's development.
"Right now we're a team that is trying to figure ourselves out and I think with every game we learn a little bit more about what it takes to be successful," Grant said. "For us, we've got eight healthy guys and with every game we've had to adjust and make changes and our guys have responded well."
In its final three games before conference play, Alabama outscored its opponents by an average of 16 points per game and shot 51.6 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and averaged 17.3 assists per game.
"For us, the thing we talk about is we want to be an up-tempo team, so the ability to score and convert is critical for us to play the way we want to play on both ends of the floor," Grant said. "The thing I've been pleased with is that our assists are up. The last two or three games we've shared the ball well."
LSU begins defense of its 2009 title with a 9-5 record after snapping a three-game skid on Monday with an 83-60 win over McNeese State in Baton Rouge. All nine of LSU's wins have come at home this season while in the five losses the Tigers have shot below 40 percent from the field.
JaMychal Green is averaging 19.3 points in his last three games after posting a 12-point, 7-rebound and 4-assist performance at Toledo but will have his hands full against LSU. The Tigers are led by forwards Tasmin Mitchell and Storm Warren who average 17.6 and 14.1 points per game respectively. Each also nearly average a double-double with more than nine rebounds per game.
"We have to go out there and force turnovers and play together as a team and play to our identity," Green said. "I need to be physical, rebound and affect every shot they put up and limit their second-chance opportunities." Following Saturday's game, the Crimson Tide returns home to host Vanderbilt on Wednesday evening at 8 p.m.
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