This preview is being posted late. My apologies for that. In 13 hours, Alabama will host the LSU Tigers in a very important game for both teams. For Alabama, postseason hopes are quickly approaching life support. If our guys can't string together some wins soon, the promising wins in November and December will be remembered as highlights, not springboards. For LSU, a season of high expectations took an early nose dive in November and December, putting Johnny Jones and company in the position of having to win a lot of basketball games in the next six weeks to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Game time is 1:00 PM. The game is being announced as a sellout. For those of you without tickets, the game will be televised on ESPNU.
There's been plenty said and written about Ben Simmons. If you're not aware of who Ben Simmons is, you clearly haven't been watching college basketball this season. Quick capsule review: he was one of the top high school prospects in the 2015 class, he's considered a shoe-in for the number 1 pick for the NBA Draft, and the college basketball media has been flush with Simmons fever since he stepped on the LSU campus. On top of all that, he's a very good basketball player who will be a nightmare for Alabama to deal with in this game.
Believe it or not, there are other players on this team. Good players too. Let's start with Craig Victor, a 6'9, 235 lb transfer from Arizona. He was not eligible to play with the team earlier in the season, but has given the team a boost since stepping into the line-up. He's averaging 13.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1,1 bpg, 1.4 spg. Simmons is getting a lot of the press, but Victor could be a serious problem for the inconsistent Bama big men. Keith Hornsby (6'4, 210) is the 3-point threat for LSU, knocking down 42% of his attempts. The other outside threat is Tim Quarterman (6'6, 190), averaging 11.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg. and 34% from 3 point range. Quarterman is up and down, but capable of being a difference maker. One other guy to watch is Antonio Blakeney. The 5 star recruit got off to a shaky start in his freshman campaign, but seems to be putting it together. LSU also has depth on its bench with guys like Josh Gray (7.5 ppg, 2.4 apg), Brandon Sampson (5.7 ppg), Aaron Epps (5.1 ppg), and Jalyn Patterson (5.1 ppg).
Honestly, it's difficult to look at this roster and figure how LSU struggled in their non-conference schedule, even with the injury to Hornsby and awaiting clearance for Victor. Is it coaching, chemistry, a little of both? The team has looked better since Hornsby and Victor have been inserted into the line-up, but the early struggles have put a lot of pressure on this team to string wins together. Missing the NCAA Tournament would have to be considered a huge missed opportunity. If LSU shows up with a sense of urgency, and is unfazed by the expected sell-out crowd, Alabama will have its hands full. To win this game, Alabama will need to knock down some 3 point shots, force LSU into some sloppy play, and feed off what is hopefully a loud, energetic crowd.