Crimson Tide Looking for Second SEC Win Against Simmons, LSU
After Saturday's national championship celebration parade, the Crimson Tide basketball team will play host to the LSU Tigers in Coleman Coliseum, and they'll have their hands full with the premier player in college basketball this season, Ben Simmons.
Simmons has been nothing shy of fantastic so far this season: 19.4 points/game, shooting 55.3% from the field, 1.7:1 assist/turnover ratio, and he's third in the nation in rebounding at 12.8/game. Needless to say, Simmons (who is just a freshman) should be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft come June 23.
Not many teams have any answers for Simmons, and Alabama probably doesn't either. He's tall (6'10"), he's big (225 lbs), he's left-handed, and he's a great ball-handler, often running the position (what Earvin "Magic" Johnson and LeBron James made famous) of the "point forward." When he's posting up in the paint, expect all of Bama's big men to have their shot at guarding him (Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, Michael Kessens, and Donta Hall), but when he's on the perimeter, the more athletic in-between defenders will get their chance at containing one of the top NBA prospects since LeBron James.
Simmons is obviously the main player on the squad, but this Tiger team is exceptional in distributing the basketball, ranking 30th in the nation in assists/game (16.6). Many of these assists set up scoring for Simmons, but regardless, they can move the ball around and create easy chances for everyone on the court. One of those other scoring threats that can easily bump up those assist numbers is senior guard Keith Hornsby. Hornsby has been the Tigers' hot shooter this season, knocking down 42% of his attempts from beyond the arc. However, if Alabama turns their attention too far to either player, they leave open someone who is capable of having a monster game.
Tide senior Retin Obasohan has bore the load as the Tide's primary scorer this season, and he'll need another big game if Alabama wants to hang around with the scoring potential of the Bayou Bengals. Obasohan has eclipsed 20 points in three of the past five games; however, the Tide have lost four of those five games. He'll need some help on the score sheet if the Crimson Tide want to earn their second SEC victory of the season.
Some of that help can come from junior forward Shannon Hale. Hale is the only other player on the roster that averages more than 10 points/game, so getting him implemented into the game plan will be integral on Saturday. It will be even more important for Hale to be aggressive if Simmons is guarding him. If the Tide can get Simmons into foul trouble early, we should be talking about a win for Alabama come Saturday evening.
Also, watch for the play of senior transfer Arthur Edwards. Edwards has been a solid presence for the Tide during SEC play, averaging nine points/game, four rebounds/game, and he's also been on the court quite a bit (26.8 minutes/game). His production and leadership has the capability to get Alabama over the hump they're currently trying to climb (1-4 in conference play).