Coach Will Wade
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tigers Play Super Tuesday Game at Alabama

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – The LSU men’s basketball team looks to try and get a February road win, but they must do it against a team that is coming off a dominating win over a nationally-ranked team.

The Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide meet here Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum in the second meeting of the two teams this year. The game will be telecast by the SEC Network and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).

LSU is 14-10 overall and 5-7 in the SEC as the league enters its final three weeks, while Alabama, after its 78-50 win over No. 15 Tennessee is now 16-9 and 7-5. One of those wins was a 74-66 win by the Tide against the Tigers.

In that game, LSU led by five with 7:27 to go in the first half, but Alabama moved to a 32-30 halftime advantage and to as much as a 15-point lead with seven minutes to play. The Tigers were able to make a big run at the end to close the game to as little as four with about a minute to play before the Tide pushed it out to the end.

The Tigers shot 40 percent in the first game, while Alabama made 43 percent. Both teams shot in the high 20 percent range from the arc but Alabama helped themselves by going 18-of-18 at the free throw line.

Tremont Waters led LSU with 19 points, while Aaron Epps had 14 and Duop Reath 12. Alabama was paced by Dazon Ingram who had 18 points and 10 rebounds and was 10-of-10 from the field. Collin Sexton added 15 points for the Tide.

The Tigers, coming off a third straight home game, an 82-66 win over Ole Miss, was led by the 26 points of Reath. Skylar Mays had 17 points (15 in the second half), with Epps and Waters getting 11 each. Epps had nine boards and Waters eight assists.

Alabama has won four straight contests in the series after LSU had won three straight in 2014, 2015 and the first game in 2016.

LSU will be back at home on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Missouri in a game televised by ESPN2. Tickets are available for the game at LSUtix.net.

Coach Will Wade, who called the Tide, “much improved” since the teams first met in January, met with the media before the team departed and here are some of his comments.

Opening Statement …
“Getting ready for Alabama. They are playing great. I had to turn their Tennessee game off with four minutes left so I could actually get some rest because they played so well. That is as good as I have seen a team, on tape, as I have seen all season. They just played tremendous. They are a really, really good defensive team. It is going to be tough sledding. They are the best defensive team in our league, statistically. It is not just stats, they look it. They are long, athletic, they rebound, and they block shots. It will take a very good effort from us to put ourselves in a position to have a chance.”

On what has helped Alabama come together as a team …
“They have gotten a lot better since the first time we played them. They have improved as much as any team that I have seen in the league. I think their rotations are down a little bit better. They play two bigs together now and they are just so versatile. They switch a lot of stuff. They can play two bigs there. They can beat you a lot of different ways, and I think they have meshed those lineups together well. They have a really good defensive identity.”

On the best part of Duop Reath’s game …
“There is a big difference when you get 31 on 18 or 20 shots. It is the efficiency of it. That is the biggest part of it. 10-of-12, 5-of-6 from the free throw line. The one free throw he missed, they kind of knocked it out there. I thought he played efficiently within himself. That is what we need. He is a hard worker. He can play inside, he can play outside. He is a tough cover for folks. Very proud of what he is doing. We will need the same type of effort and then some tomorrow night.”

On how much a problem rebounding against Alabama will be …
“They have killed us on the glass the first time. They get one of their best rebounders and best shot blockers back. It could be a huge problem, as it is most nights.”

On how to attack a team like Alabama offensively …
“Pray. Tennessee scored 50 on them. You have to spread them. Our best chance is to bang a bunch of threes. Hope the three ball goes in. Hadn’t gone in very well on the road. Maybe we have saved up a bunch of makes. Time to cash them in tomorrow night. They are bigger, longer, and more athletic than us at every position. There are ways to compensate for that. Hopefully we will do that. The biggest way to compensate is to make threes.”

On the SEC looking better than in past years …
I think there are a lot of really good teams. I think the league took care of business in the non-conference portion of the schedule. That is the main thing. We scheduled well. I think everybody in the league won some big non-conference games which helps. There is nobody that, if you lose to them, it is a terrible loss because the numbers are so good coming into league play. I don’t think there is a lot of difference between a lot of the teams, as shown by how close the games have been. I do think the league is playing well and deserves probably eight bids.”

On how it helps when Duop Reath can hit threes …
“It helps. It makes you have to go out there and guard him. He is able to drive it in there. If you look at the number in league, he is our best three-point shooter. He can knock them down. Most of them have been from the top of the key, elbow-to-elbow. He is shooting it well. He is playing with a lot of confidence. He works on his game. He works really, really hard. He wants to be good. It pays off when you need him.”

On feeding the ball to Duop Reath inside more than the beginning of the year …
“I always like having a big guy that we can feed to ball in. I wish we had two in there like that. Two monsters that we can just throw into every time, just go play volleyball on the backboards if they miss. We have one. I am not the smartest guy, but the closer you shoot to the basket, the better chance of making it. If you have a 6’11” kid who has some touch in there, you have to get it to him. There is a lot of things that go into that. You have to have guards who can feed the post. We didn’t have a lot of skill in feeding the post. When he gets position, we throw the ball all over the place. He has to lose his position just to go catch the ball. We are still not great at feeding the post. Him getting position is the first part of it. The other part is, can we feed the post? Do we have the right spacing? Alabama is going to double him tomorrow night. As soon as he gets the ball, there is going to be two people on him. It is going to be a totally different type of game for him. Totally different way that he has to do things.”

On if Duop Reath can be the kind of player that can kick the ball outside …
“I hope. We are going to need to kick it out tomorrow night because they are going to collapse on him so fast, he won’t even have the ball before the four man is there. We have to move that thing around. We need to get it to him in the right spots. The first game, we hung him out to dry. Turned the ball over too much to Alabama in the first game, but our guards hung him out to dry. They gave him the ball in terrible spots. They gave him the ball in the wrong spots. It was a disaster. Alabama is playing as well as anyone in our league. They looked great Saturday against Tennessee. Absolutely phenomenal.”

On Alabama’s defense …
“The best part is their defense. If you defend, you have a chance every night. They held Tennessee to 50 on Saturday. The week before that, they held Florida to 50 on the road. They gave up 67 to Mississippi State. Even though they lost to Missouri, they gave up 69. They guard. Anytime you guard, you have a chance to win. That is the number one thing. When (John) Petty makes threes, they are so good. They are 9-1 this year when he makes three or more threes. He makes a lot of those at home. You have to do a good job on him. They play the game at their pace. They are very, very good defensively. Very long, very athletic. Really good team. A team that is going to make noise in the NCAA tournament, in my opinion.”

On getting Skylar Mays to play well for a full game …
“Sky has been good. I think he was able to self-correct a little bit during the game, which he hasn’t been able to do for parts of the year. He puts so much pressure on himself because he is such a high achiever with everything that he does, academically or with basketball. I think sometimes he gets down on himself and it is kind of hard for him to get out of that rut. He certainly played an aggressive game in the second half. We have to keep him aggressive. I thought he defended well in the first half. He had a couple good deflections. He did a nice job defending in that first half. If we are going to have a chance tomorrow, we need (Tremont) Waters to play like he did in the second half, the whole game. We need Mays to play like that for the whole game. We need Duop to play like he did. We need (Aaron) Epps. We need everybody. We need someone at the three position to do something. Defend, shoot, something. We need someone to step up like there.”

On if it helps that they have played Alabama before …
“It helps that we played them once. They are playing so much better now than they were when we played them the first time. It helps a little bit. You can see what they would do against different things that you have done. They probably learned some stuff too. I am not comparing Tre Waters to Trae Young, but they have played Trae Young since we played them the first time. They probably learned a little bit. I assume that we will see a little bit more of what they did against him in terms of denying, boxing one, running off the trap, and things like that on our Tre. They have gotten better too. They have more tape and that sort of thing as well. We will see. We made some adjustments, they will make some adjustments. We will see who can win out in the game tomorrow night. He is a good coach (Avery Johnson), a good tactician.”

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