A day long in the making is upon us. After an exhilarating 15 point come back win over Tennessee-the SEC regular season champion and #1 seed Alabama will play LSU for the SEC Tournament Championship tomorrow. An Alabama win would earn it’s first SECT Championship banner since 91 and a potential shot at a number 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Tip is set for Noon on ESPN.
The Opponent: Alabama has trounced LSU twice this season. On one hand, we know Alabama is the better team here. On the other, you have to be concerned of the galvanizing effect that embarrassing losses can have on a team. LSU is loaded with talent on the offensive end. Cam Thomas can score at will and he has plenty of teammates that can fill up the scoring column. Will Wade’s problem has been motivating his team to play defense, however. The Tigers answered the bell today in a big win over Arkansas to end the Hogs’ 12 game win streak. It’s not as easy for Arkansas when they’re not +20 at the free throw line apparently. Imagine that. I digress. I think the Tide will need a good start tomorrow as LSU isn’t a very mentally tough team. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for either team with a championship on the line but LSU has been know to fold when facing adversity.
Players to Watch: Hard not to include the aforementioned Cam Thomas. Offensively, the kid is ready for the NBA right now in my opinion. However, like many freshman, he loses motivation on the defensive side at times. Thomas and Watford will likely get their points but Tide fans should hope for the same defensive effort that those 2 have given in the previous 2 games. Alabama had its fair shape of open layups and looks from 3 as these two lost interest.
There are so many players playing at a high level for Alabama right now. The team has taken it up yet another notch since Jahvon Quinerly got his legs back under him after missing time with an illness. He’s been practically unguardable while reaching double digits in the last 11 games. He should have ample opportunity to get out in space to score and facilitate as Alabama has had great success with spacing the floor against LSU twice this season. Having said that, he’ll likely be matched up with Javontae Smart at times tomorrow. Quinerly’s defense will be equally important as Smart can be quite the difference maker if he gets going.
My Thoughts: Alabama is 23-6 with a chance to be both SEC regular season and SEC Tournament champions. That’s an incredible thought to process and you know the players are channeling some strong emotions. The team will have to channel those emotions in a positive manner . Alabama doesn’t need to come out overly aggressive on the defensive end and find itself in foul trouble due to reaching or over the back rebounding, etc. The Tide has to keep the pace up, make shots, turn defense into offense and force LSU to try and keep up. I have a feeling that LSU comes out hot and leads a big portion of this game. That could spell trouble if the Crimson Tide have another cold day from the perimeter. But Alabama has begun to thrive in that challenging position. The Tide eventually gets a lead and LSU won’t be able to fight off the familiar sense of dread. I think we see another net cutting ceremony for Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama 84, LSU 72