LSU has won six straight conference games since a 65-59 loss to Alabama on Jan. 11 in Tuscaloosa in what was then the conference opener for both teams. Marcus Thornton led LSU with 21 points and eight boards, while Tasmin Mitchell and Bo Spencer each scored 10. Senario Hillman scored 24 points and Alonzo Gee had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Alabama.
“Alabama is a basketball team that was the preseason favorite to win the SEC West,” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “I thought they really handled us physically. We are all aware that Senario Hillman had an exceptional basketball game with 24 points and in terms of them beating us.”
LSU is now 18-4 overall and 6-1 in the league, while Alabama is 13-9 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. The Tide will be playing their fourth game under Interim Head Coach Philip Pearson, who replaced Mike Gottfried who resigned in late January.
LSU has won 15-of-16 home games this season and will be looking to become just the third Tiger team in the 38-year history of the PMAC to win 16 games in a season.
LSU is one of the hottest teams in the conference right now behind the efforts of junior forward Tasmin Mitchell and senior guard Marcus Thornton. The pair combined for 57 points Wednesday against Georgia, and both of them are averaging 20 points a game since conference play began.
“Basically, I give credit to the offense that we are running,” Thornton said. “If you run the offense right, you get easy looks at the basket. Tasmin and I are just taking advantage of it. Coach Johnson was quoted in the paper as saying that he’s given us a green light, and we are just doing what we can to help win games.”
The Crimson Tide is also different in that Ronald Steele has left the team after his lengthy battle with injuries but Coach Trent Johnson realizes this is still a difficult task ahead for the Tigers.
“I thought they really handled up physically (in the first matchup),” said Johnson. “We are all aware that Senario Hillman had an exceptional basketball game with 24 points and in terms of them beating up.
“Ronald Steele was obviously injured at the time and playing with a bad heel, so the nucleus of guys who have played well for them – and I thought they played well (Thursday) against Vanderbilt – are still intact. We are going to have to do a better job physically on the glass than we did against Georgia. I thought Georgia really physically hounded us even though we out rebounded them.”
Thornton comes in leading the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game, just ahead of his final average a year ago of 19.6 points per game, while Mitchell is averaging 15.6 points per game. Bo Spencer, who struggled with no points at Georgia, is still averaging a nice 11.9 points per game.
After Sunday’s game, LSU travels to Mississippi State on Wednesday before the Ole Miss Rebels come to Baton Rouge on Feb. 14 for a 6 p.m. game at the Maravich Center.