Tigers Go For Another SEC Road Win At Alabama

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Listen Free Drive the Lane with Naz Reid Watch Live Live Stats +0
Tigers Go For Another SEC Road Win At Alabama

BATON ROUGE – The No. 13 LSU Tigers basketball team will attempt to do something only one other team has done in school history, win its first eight SEC road games, when it travels to Tuscaloosa to take on the University of Alabama Saturday morning at Coleman Coliseum.

The 1980-81 team won its first eight league road games and this year’s squad has tied the 1952-53 team which won all seven of its road contests that year.

The Tigers and the Tide play at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN with Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes on the call. The Voice of the Tigers, Chris Blair, and former head coach John Brady will call the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network and at www.LSUsports.net/live (Eagle 98.1 FM the flagship in Baton Rouge).

The Tigers are 23-5 and 13-2 in the Southeastern Conference, in a three-way tie for the title with Kentucky and Tennessee. Those teams meet later in the afternoon in Knoxville. LSU presently has the tiebreaker advantage for the better seed against both teams.

Alabama is 17-11 and 8-7 on the year after a good 68-62 road win at South Carolina on Tuesday night. Avery Johnson, the New Orleans native and former star at Southern University, is in his fourth year as the head coach of the Tide.

LSU is coming off a 66-55 win, its second of the year, over Texas A&M on Tuesday night. Playing for the second straight game without point guard Tremont Waters, the Tigers had all five starters score all the points as Naz Reid had 18, Javonte Smart 17, Skylar Mays 11 and Kavell Bigby-Williams and Marlon Taylor 10 each.

Reid and Bigby-Williams both had double figures in rebounds with 11 each.

LSU won the first meeting between the two schools back on Jan. 8, the first conference game that LSU played in the 2019 season, 88-79. LSU had a big lead at the half but allowed Alabama to score 51 second half points to make things close.

Freshman Kira Lewis, Jr., led the Crimson Tide with 15 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 at the free throw line. Alex Reese added 12. LSU was led by Waters with 19 points and seven rebounds with Smart adding 15, Darius Days 14 and Bigby-Williams with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Lewis leads Alabama in scoring at 14.3 points per game with Donta Hall averaging 11.0 and John Petty 10.4.

Coach Will Wade was scheduled to meet with the media prior to the team’s departure and comments from that media session will be posted later Friday afternoon.

Will Wade Press Conference

March 1, 2019

Opening statement…

“We needed a day off on Wednesday. That was big for us to regenerate a little bit and get our bodies right. I feel better about our health overall, and where our guys are. Going into Tuscaloosa, it will be a tough game. Alabama is playing well coming off a big road win at South Carolina. It’s a tough place to play with their length. It will be their senior day on Saturday. They’ll be honoring their seniors, Donta Hall who’s been tremendous for them. I’m sure it will be a special day for Coach (Avery) Johnson with his son (Avery Jr.) being one of the seniors that they honor. He’s obviously played well for them. He played well at our place against us. He did a nice job of controlling the game when he was in the game. He’s a been a solid player for them along with Riley Norris and some of these other guys. They’ve got a very, very good team. They’ll be, obviously, pretty motivated with it being senior day. They’ve been very, very good against ranked teams, especially at home. They play with a certain edge and just play a lot better at home and in particular, against ranked teams. It will be a big challenge for us as we head up there. They’ll all be tough from here on out.”

 

On how LSU matches up against Alabama…

“It’s still a tough matchup for us. The first game we hit a bunch of threes. It’s still a tough matchup for us. We got outrebounded in the first game by one, I believe. It’s still a tough matchup for us. Nothing has changed. We’re going to have to play very, very well.”

 

On if Tremont Waters will see any limits after missing the past two games…

“He should be able to go. I think it’s good that we’ve been able to get some other guys some experience. He’s been able to rest a little bit. Certainly, you’re not as comfortable when he’s not in uniform over there. None of us are. I’m not. We’d all be lying if we said we were comfortable. He’s kind of our safety blanket a little bit. When things go awry, he’s able to do some things that nobody else can do. I thought we did some really good things without him. I thought the flow of the offense was still really, really good. I thought defensively we stayed between our man and the basket. There are some different things we were able to do. Now the key is, we still need to be able to do those things and add him back in and have him doing those things at a high level, which he’s going to do. It may be the next level that we can get to with our team.”

 

On how much the extra experience other players got with Water out helps…

“I think the extra experience is critical. I think it’s really rare – Tremont before the injury was playing about 36 minutes a game in conference play. For us to be able to rest him a little bit – obviously we didn’t want to – for him to have that rest and maybe be a little fresher down the stretch ere, hopefully that’s something that can be a benefit for us as well.”

 

On how important veterans like Skylar Mays are on these road trips…

“We’ve been good on the road. We’ve been pretty good in hostile environments. It will be another one tomorrow. Early tip-off, I’m sure everybody will be fired up and ready to go. It will be just another place where we’ve got to stay connected, compete hard and handle the details. We need to do the simple things really well. It helps having a lot of guys who have been in that situation. Having Tremont back out there tomorrow and having Skylar and having Kavell (Bigby-Williams), who’s been in these types of situations – he won a conference championship when he was at Oregon – it will help having all those guys.”

 

On how LSU has improved since it last played Alabama in early January…

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better. I was watching the film this week from the first time we played them and I think we’ve certainly improved and we’ve gotten better. They have as well. They’ve shortened their rotation They’re going to be in a tricky spot. They’ve shortened their rotation and have a couple guys who have really hurt us the last couple year who haven’t played as much. I’d probably throw them back out there tomorrow. Some of these guys at Alabama, they love seeing LSU, they seem to play really well against us. We’ll see how much we’ve improved verses how much they’ve improved. I do think we’ve gotten better and I know they’ve gotten better as well. It will be a little bit different of a game than it was the first time around.”

 

On how having Tremont Waters back might free up the court…

“No, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. With him back in there, it’s value added. We’ll keep playing like we’ve been playing.”

 

On what has allowed LSU to go undefeated on the road in SEC play thus far…

“I just think we kind of do the same thing. We’re pretty boring. Nothing’s too exciting. We do the same routine and we prepare the same way. We’ve been fortunate too, a little bit. We’ve won a lot of close games on the road. I just think consistency. We’ve been very consistent and our preparation has been good. Our guys enjoy that ‘us against the world’ when it’s just 30 of us against 10-12 thousand of the other folks. I think our guys enjoy that.”

 

On how routine can change for an 11 a.m. game…

“It’s a big difference. We have a bunch of different tip times because of television. Certainly our preparation has been a little bit different for the 11 a.m. tip, but we’ll use some of the same routine that we did last weekend against Tennessee. We had planned all that out months in advance so we kind of knew what we were going to do.”

 

On what last minute preparation the staff will make prior to tomorrow’s game…

“We do the same thing. We’ll get there, go to the hotel, eat. We’ll do a film session send them back for a little bit. We usually go to the gym, but tonight we can’t. They (Alabama) have a gymnastics meet at the Coliseum there. We’ll come back, do some more film and go through a paper scout. Do a little walk-thru in the hotel. They’ll go to bed, get up in the morning and kind of go through the same stuff.”

 

On what he took away from last year on the road to allow LSU to have more road success this year…

“The games we lost on the road last year, those teams were just better than us. One way to be a good road team is to have good players and have a good team. As simplistic as that is, that’s part of it. I just think our guys; we have a poise about us that we need to have on the road. We’ve been able to just hang in there, hang in there, hang in there, and then make our move. We’ve certainly been good in those six minute games. We weren’t nearly as good in the six minute games last year and we’ve been better in those six minute games. Our rebounding has been better. When you can’t rebound, it’s tough to win on the road. You can’t stop runs, you can’t score enough if you can’t offensive rebound and last year our rebounding was so poor. You don’t want to go on the road as a jump shooting team and last year we went on the road as a jump shooting team. If our shots went in we could kind of hang in there and if not it was going to be over and over pretty quickly. And it was probably going to be pretty ugly. Having the rebounding that’s able to travel, that helps also.”

 

On if knowing that they’re playing for and SEC title adds pressure…

“No. At this point, you want to be playing for something. I don’t think there’s pressure. I think it’s opportunity. We were predicted sixth. I don’t think anybody thought we’d be in this situation. We’ve got nothing but opportunity in front of us. We’ve got great opportunities in front of us and it’s on us to take advantage of them. Pressure is a privilege. It’s good – we could be playing for nothing right now – it’s a real positive for us. We treat every game very, very important so we really haven’t changed our tone or what we do. We do the same thing. Like I said, we’re boring. We go about things the same way every time. With that consistency our guys understand.”