LSU will be on the road for the third time in a four-game stretch when the No. 25 Tigers take on Alabama on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Tigers (18-6, 9-2 Southeastern Conference) ended a two-game skid by rallying for an 82-78 win at home over Missouri on Tuesday night to maintain their share of the SEC lead with Kentucky and Auburn.
LSU trailed Missouri by as many as 12 points in the first half and was still back 64-56 midway through the second half. LSU forged a tie at 69 before leading the rest of the way.
“I understand we need to play better than we did today, but the goal was to win and we won,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Now we’ve got to get better to go back on the road and play better on the road.”
Wade is hoping to have Charles Manning Jr. available to give his starters some much-needed rest. Four starters were on the court for 30 minutes or more against Missouri and accounted for 80 of 82 points and 30 of 31 rebounds.
Manning has been out since injuring his foot on Jan. 14. The junior guard averaged 8.0 points in 16 appearances before the injury, shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
“We’ve got to get more from our bench,” Wade said. “Hopefully, we’ll have Charles back on Saturday. We’ll need him back bad because we need some help on our bench.”
Alabama also has some depth issues with Herbert Jones dealing with a wrist injury. After sitting for three games, he played seven minutes in the 95-91 overtime loss at Auburn on Wednesday but was limited by a cast on his left wrist and didn’t take a shot. He did have three rebounds, a key block and a steal.
Meanwhile, Kira Lewis Jr. played all 45 minutes and freshman Jaden Shackelford logged 42 for the Crimson Tide (13-11, 5-6). Shackelford accounted for seven of Alabama’s SEC-record 22 3-pointers in matching his career high with 28 points while Lewis recorded the first triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists) for the school in 24 years.
Lewis has been on the floor for 87 minutes the last two games, both of which went overtime.
“He’s playing all 40 minutes, which is hard, but we had to do it,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “He didn’t have turnover until 20 seconds to go in the overtime game, so he played almost 45 minutes without a turnover. It speaks to the way he controlled the game. I thought he was unbelievable.”
The loss at Auburn was the fourth for the Crimson Tide in a five-game stretch that started with a 90-76 setback at LSU on Jan. 29.
Oats, however, remains confident in his team.
“We’ve talked about this before. We are right there,” Oats said. “We just have to figure out how to get stops and figure out how to play a full game. We’re capable of beating anyone in the league when we’re playing for 40 minutes.”
–Field Level Media