Avery Johnson and Company Preparing for Second Match Up with LSU, Simmons
Alabama has won five of its last six games and look to continue their hot play when they travel to Baton Rouge to tip off against freshman phenom Ben Simmons the LSU Tigers for the second time this season.
In the first match up on January 23, LSU was able to get five players into double digits in the scoring category, including 23 from Simmons. Not only did Simmons do work by leading the game in scoring, he also had a game-high five assists. Alabama head coach Avery Johnson has to know that Simmons will get his again, so limiting the damage done from the other competent players on Johnny Jones' squad will be an integral part of this game.
Keith Hornsby missed the first seven games of the season for the Bayou Bengals, but since his return, he's been nothing shy of spectacular scoring the basketball. Out of the eighteen games he's played in this season, he's only scored in single digits five times (three of which came against then Top 10 ranked teams Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma). Hornsby's hot shooting needs to be contained on Wednesday night if Alabama wants to pull the upset over the SEC-leading Tigers.
Guarding Hornsby will most likely be a mix between Retin Obasohan and Justin Coleman. With the offensive firepower of Hornsby and Simmons, the Tide will need Obasohan on the court for as long as possible, as he's been their lone consistent scoring threat. We've seen glimpses of Riley Norris, Arthur Edwards, and even had a rare offensive appearance from Jimmie Taylor against the Florida Gators this past weekend, but if Obasohan gets into foul trouble as he has been susceptible to over the past five games, then one of these previously mentioned guys has to step up and get Alabama on the scoreboard. Expect a good performance from Norris on Wednesday, who in the first match up against LSU had 10 points on 4-5 shooting. He'll most likely be guarded by a combination of Tim Quarterman or Craig Victor II, neither of which are known to be elite defenders.
As of now, Alabama is projected to be in the First Four Out in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi. With a victory over the Tigers in Baton Rouge, that should be enough to catapult them into solid discussions of making the Big Dance, and even a close loss to LSU may not be the worst thing in the world for Johnson's group. But they can't lose in blowout fashion and then expect any kind of love from the selection committee. They've had some good wins this season (Wichita State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Texas A&M, all ranked at the time Alabama played them), but they've also had a couple bad losses (Vanderbilt and Auburn).