No. 4 Alabama set to face SEC foe LSU in Tuscaloosa

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned rivalry. 

After defeating No. 15 Arkansas 84-62 on Wednesday, No. 4 Alabama returns to the hardwood for a matchup with Matt McMahon’s LSU Tigers in Coleman Coliseum.  

The Crimson Tide (14-2, 4-0 SEC) are riding a five-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s contest, defeating their opponents by an average of 18.8 points during that span.  

Leading the way for the Tigers (12-4, 1-3 SEC) is senior forward KJ Williams, who’s averaging 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 44% from deep as the bell-cow in Baton Rouge. 

Standing at 6-foot-10, the former Murray State transfer will pose yet another challenge to Alabama’s imposing frontcourt featuring the likes of Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney and Noah Gurley. 

“We’re going to have to do a little bit different with him,” Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats said on Friday. 

While Williams is a frontrunner for SEC player of the year, freshman forward Clowney refuses to back down from a challenge.  

“At the end of the day, I don’t care if they’re 280 [pounds], 250 [pounds], 160 [pounds] — we all bleed the same blood,” Clowney said. “You might have different attributes that I don’t [have], but at the end of the day, it’s really just effort.” 

Joining Williams in the LSU frontcourt is Derek Fountain, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward that’s averaging 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists during his junior campaign in Cajun country.  

Manning the backcourt for the Tigers is Adam Miller, a former top-30 recruit that’s averaging 13.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a sophomore.  

Coupled with Miller are Justice Hill, Cam Hayes and Trae Hannibal, a trio of upper-classmen guards that spearhead a dynamic guard room.  

Analytical speaking, the Tigers are a middle-of-road team on both ends, ranking 119th in offensive adjusted efficiency, 75th in defensive adjusted efficiency, 128th in offensive effective field goal percentage, and 98th in defensive effective field goal percentage.  

“LSU has been a big rivalry game for us. So it’s a maturity test,” Oats said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You can’t win championships if you lose home games because you haven’t prepared for them.” 

As of Friday, the analytics service KenPom projects a 81-65 win for Alabama – an 86% chance at victory.  

After defeating Arkansas on Dec. 28th, the Tigers have dropped three in a row, falling to Kentucky, Texas A&M and Florida to open up SEC play. On the opposite side, the Crimson Tide are playing their best ball of season, ranking top-15 nationally in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency over the last five games. 

A sputtering team potentially on the brink of collapse versus one of the country’s best. Something’s got to give. Or does it? 

Tipoff for No. 4 Alabama vs. LSU is set for Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]