Dazon Ingram steps up for Alabama ahead of matchup with LSU

Tyler Waldrep

Five games remain in the regular season, but Alabama coach Avery Johnson could pass last year’s conference win total with a victory against Southeastern conference basement dweller LSU on Saturday- just don’t tell him that.

“I’m taking it one half at a time, have you see our first halves the last couple games. And you want me to think about double digit wins in conference?” Johnson said.

One need not look further than the Crimson Tide’s game against the Missouri Tigers (7-18, 2-11) for an example of what Johnson meant. The Tigers led Alabama (15-10, 8-5) for most of the game on Wednesday and held Johnson’s team to a season-low 18 first half points.

Luckily for the Crimson Tide, 18 also happened to be the number of points freshman point guard Dazon Ingram scored in the 57-54 Alabama victory.

“It just finally came out in a game. I’ve been seeing it in practice, every day he walks in with a different type of confidence now,” senior Jimmie Taylor said.

The Crimson Tide might need a repeat performance from Ingram on Saturday when it hosts LSU (9-16, 1-12) at 2:30 p.m. as the Tigers from Baton Rouge could be the last team with an 100+ RPI (rating percentage index) that Alabama meets with this season.

Alabama’s margin for error as it pertains to a potential NCAA Tournament berth has grown incredibly slim. The team might be able to take one more loss down the stretch, but a loss to the Tigers would likely be too brutal to overcome.

The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers 81-66 when the two teams met on Jan. 14.

Alabama’s biggest test in Saturday’s rematch will likely involve slowing down Antonio Blakeney. The sophomore is averaging 17 points per game overall and 27 points over the last three games.

“One of the things [LSU coach] Johnny [Jones] can do is leave him in Baton Rouge,” Johnson said.

Even if Jones left his top scorer behind LSU has other scoring threats. Brandon Sampson has scored at least 11 points in the Tiger’s last five games and averaged 15.4 over the same stretch, and Duop Reath is averaging 12.8 ppg overall.

“We can’t have as many wasted possessions on offense as we’ve had here recently and expect to score with this LSU team,” Johnson said.