Alabama headed to Auburn on a little bit of a hot streak earlier this week, having won five of its last six games. But the Crimson Tide was ice cold against the Tigers, shooting just 28.6 percent from the floor, which ended up in a 49-37 loss. The Tide scored just 14 points in the second half.
Despite the embarrassment, Alabama is not mulling over that game. They can’t. They have to move forward and forget about it and focus on their next opponent. Alabama hosts LSU tonight at Coleman Coliseum at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
In his fifth year playing for Alabama, redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele is the leader of this team. He’s been through tough losses before and understands what he has to do to pick his teammates up after a rough one.
“I take the [leadership] role personally,” he said. “The biggest thing is to keep encouraging them and recognize that we’ve still got a lot to play for and what happened Wednesday, we can’t really do anything about, but just look forward and take it one game at a time.”
Neither Steele nor head coach Anthony Grant wanted to talk about the Auburn loss much at their Friday afternoon press conference, but reporters still nudged them about the mood on the bus ride home from Auburn and what practice has been like this week.
“Obviously losing hurts, no matter who it is,” Steele said. “When it’s against Auburn, obviously it hurts a little bit more. But the thing is, there’s nothing we can do about it. The game’s over with. We can’t go back and change it. What we can control is what we do going forward. What we can’t do is let one loss turn into two or three.”
The Tide will try to pick up the pieces against a different Tigers team tonight.
“They’re a very talented team,” Grant said of LSU. “They’ve won four of their last five and I think they’re playing their best basketball right now.”
LSU has been locked in defensively. The Tigers lead the SEC in steals with 20 this season, 10.3 per game. Guards Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey have combined for 76 thus far.
“They do a great job wreaking havoc from a defensive standpoint,” Grant said. “They get after the basketball and both of them really shoot well, too.”
Stringer is dangerous from the outside, shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range (third-best percentage in the SEC). Grant said the junior has “unlimited range.” Hickey leads the team in scoring (12.5 ppg).
“He impacts their team in a lot of ways,” Steele said of Stringer. “He’s one of those guys that you can’t necessarily just shut him down. You gotta hope to contain him and try to limit his opportunities.”
The Tigers have other weapons Alabama must account for as well. Forward Johnny O’Bryant has had five double-doubles this season, scoring 11.8 ppg and leading the team in rebounding with 8.3 rpg. And Shavon Coleman, a junior forward, isn’t far behind, averaging 11.4 ppg and 7.2 rpg.
For more Alabama coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!