Antonio Blakeney (USA TODAY SPORTS)

GAME PREVIEW | Tigers desperate for an about-face as Alabama visits the PMAC

Off to a 1-3 start in league play, LSU is hungry for success

Alabama at LSU (9-6, 2-1 SEC) at LSU (9-6, 1-3)

When | 2:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday

Where | PMAC

TV/Radio | SEC Network | The Eagle (98.1-FM, Baton Rouge)

Series | Alabama owns a commanding 104-71 lead in the series, although the Tigers have won three of the last four meetings and holds a 48-31 advantage in Baton Rouge.

Last meeting | The Crimson Tide snapped a three-game skid vs. LSU with a 78-69 decision in Baton Rouge last Feb. 17.  

Last time out | Texas A&M 92, LSU 62; Florida 80, Alabama 67

Tiger trends

LSU is allowing 90 points a game in four conference games. … The Tigers have been outscored 91-59 on points off of turnovers in four SEC games. … Coming off the bench at A&M, Brandon Sampson logged 4 assists to match a season-high. … Antonio Blakeney has scored 17 points or more in five games in a row. He is averaging 20.5 points a game in conference play. … Jalyn Patterson has turned the ball over only once in the last four games covering 103 minutes. He has also recorded 19 assists in SEC play. … LSU matched a season-low with only 3 3-pointers against Texas A&M. That came on 14 attempts, which equates to 21.4% accuracy – the Tigers’ worst mark since back-to-back games against Wichita State and Old Dominion in November. … Among LSU’s defensive struggles at A&M were no blocked shots for the first time in a game this season. … The Aggies racked up 24 assists on 34 made shots vs. the Tigers. … The 47-32 rebound deficiency against A&M was LSU’s second-worst of the season. Wichita State beat the Tigers on the glass 55-37.

Breaking down Alabama

The Tide’s 13-point loss at Florida was marred by 16-of-32 shooting from the free-throw line. … Alabama comes in with a +13 average rebound margin in league games, +6.5 overall, which both lead the SEC. … With 62.4 points a game allowed, Alabama ranks 19th nationally in that category. Alabama is 9-0 when holding opponents to 62 points or fewer this year. … Braxton Key had 24 points in the loss at Florida, marking the first time a Tide player has scored 20 or more this season. … Ten active Tide players are averaging 10 minutes a game or more and only two are north of 25 minutes a contest. Seven players are scoring 6.1-10.4 points a game and six are grabbing between 3.5-5.7 rebounds an outing. … Alabama senior Corban Collins began his career at LSU in Johnny Jones’ first season before transferring to Morehead State. The fifth-year transfer from Virginia is averaging 22.5 minutes a game this season and is tied for the team lead with 17 3-pointers made. …

Crimson Tide to watch

G Dazon Ingram |After missing his freshman year with an injury, the first big recruit of Avery Johnson’s tenure is starting to show why he was so ballyhooed. In the last five games, the 6-foot-5 playmaker is averaging 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds a game with 10 assists. He could create some matchup problems against the Tigers’ new-look smaller lineup because of his ability do damage inside or out.

F Braxton Key | In the last two games, the dynamic freshman has set season-highs in rebounds (11 vs. Vanderbilt) and points 24 against Florida, so he seems to be getting to a new comfort level. Much like Ingram, Key is versatile enough to hurt a defense inside or out – he drilled 3-of-4 3-pointers against the Gators.

Projected starting lineups

LSU

G Antonio Blakeney (17.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 47.8% FG, 26-69 3-pt. FG)

G Branden Jenkins (2.5 ppg, 4-16 FG)

G Jalyn Patterson (5.9 ppg, 52 assists, 22 steals)

F Duop Reath (13.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 53.8% FG, 29 blocks)

F Wayde Sims (5.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 47.1% FG, 9-21 3-pt. FG)

Tigers statistics

Alabama

G Avery Johnson (7.1 ppg, 26 assists, 35% 3-pt. FG, 16-22 FT)

G Dazon Ingram (9.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 56 assists. 52.7% FG)

F Riley Norris (7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 20-27 FT)

F Braxton Key (10.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 47.2% FG, 15-37 3-pt. FG)

F Donta Hall (6.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 67.9% FG)

Crimson Tide statistics

Matchup to watch

Very few teams have had trouble containing Blakeney this season, but the Tigers haven’t faced many clubs as stout defensively. For LSU to have any shot at pulling out its current nose dive, Blakeney has to be a volume scorer when the game is still competitive – not when the Tigers are scrambling from behind. That puts some onus on the talented 6-4 guard to force the issue early to see what he will be able to do against the Tide, while also making sure he is getting teammates involved.

Keys to the game

Patience has to be part of LSU’s game plan on offense because of the style Alabama plays defensively. Similarly to Texas A&M, the Tide forces opponents to grind through offensive possessions and isn’t very generous with second-chance shots. That means the Tigers have to work their offense – no quick shots – and not settle for desperate shots at any point in the shot clock. As has been the case all season, finding some way to make the foe work hard to score instead of being susceptible to wide-open, uncontested shots. The last two weeks have been a painful regression on defense against teams (except Vanderbilt) that haven’t exactly been offensive juggernauts. Alabama isn’t a high-octane offensive team, either, but the Tide will come at LSU in waves with different players.


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