Tuscaloosa, Ala. – After losing their last home game of the year in disappointing fashion, the Crimson Tide travel out to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers (20-10, 8-9 SEC) in the last game of the 2021-2022 regular season.
Alabama (19-11, 9-8 SEC) is coming off yet another game where they let their turnover issue get the best of them. On Wednesday, Alabama committed 19 total turnovers which brought their season average up to 17.3 turnovers a game. Granted, the Aggies are among the elite teams in the nation in forcing turnovers. But coming into Saturday’s matchup, Alabama will be facing an even stronger defense. LSU is the best team in the whole country at forcing turnovers, the Tigers currently lead the country with 11 steals per game.
“The turnovers are really frustrating. We gotta figure out how to get these guys locked in. It’s mainly our guards. 16 of the 19 turnovers came from perimeter players,” Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats said.
This will be the second matchup of the season between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers. The first matchup resulted in a 70-67 win for the Crimson Tide. Alabama, like many other games this season, held the lead most of this game but towards the end, the opposing team cut it close.
Be on the lookout for LSU’s Xavier Pinson and Tari Eason. Last time out against Alabama, Eason led the Tigers by torching the Crimson Tide defense for 26 points off of 9-13 shooting from the field. Pinson, on the other hand, was not able to play in the first matchup due to an overlying knee injury. Currently, Pinson is fifth in the SEC with 4.6 assists a game, and even Nate Oats knows the difference Pinson’s game can make:
“The biggest thing since the last time we played them is (Xavier) Pinson’s playing. He didn’t play against us. And then (Darius) Days got hurt and didn’t play the whole game against us. They’re both back and playing well. They’ll have their full roster.” Nate Oats responded.
This matchup doesn’t necessarily favor Alabama, due to LSU’s elite ability to force turnovers. According to KenPom, LSU is fifth in defensive efficiency this year, which does not really bode well for the Crimson tide. What Alabama will have to do in order to stay in this game, and potentially win, is force their way to the free-throw line. This season the Tigers are averaging 20 fouls per game, and aren’t shy to get aggressive. Guys like Shackelford, JD Davidson, and Juwan Gary will have to step up force the defenders to draw contact within the paint. If Alabama can get to the charity stripe often and early, they may just pull out a win in this tough SEC matchup.
After Saturday, it’s tournament time baby!