LSU vs. Alabama Basketball Preview: Jalen Cook is Questionable in Tigers’ Rematch with Crimson Tide (Full Video of Matt McMahon Media Conference)

Freshman guard Mike Williams III led LSU with 16 points as the Tigers played 20 strong minutes against league-leading Alabama before the Crimson Tide took over in the second half. PHOTO By LSU Athletics

LSU basketball is back at home for a rematch with No. 16 Alabama tomorrow after a tough road loss against No. 6 Tennessee.

LSU (12-10, 4-5 SEC) lost the first matchup against Alabama (16-7, 8-2 SEC) 109-88 in January. LSU’s offense did well in the first meeting, putting up 88 points while shooting 42.3% from the field. The Tigers made 11 three-pointers while shooting 39.3% from three.

LSU was able to hang with Alabama in the first half, trailing by just six points at halftime, but a second half explosion sunk the Tigers’ upset bid.

LSU couldn’t stop the Crimson Tide’s offense as they scored their second-most points in a game all season and their most in SEC play. Alabama shot 55.6% from the field and 41.2% from three while making 14 three-pointers. The Tide also outrebounded LSU 42-33 and outscored LSU in the paint 42-34.

Alabama’s dynamic point guard Mark Sears scored 21 points in the first matchup. Sears is the top scorer in the SEC averaging 20.3 points per game and shooting 52.3% from the field this season. He has scored 20 or more points in six straight games.

LSU is coming off a 20-point loss to Tennessee and has now lost four of its last five games. Star guard Jalen Cook missed the game against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury and he is questionable for the game against Alabama.

Cook is LSU’s leading scorer this season with 15.5 points per game on 41.7% shooting from the field. When Cook was healthy against Arkansas, McMahon chose to start Trae Hannibal instead to allow Cook to see more of the court.

Cook played 21 minutes off the bench and put in one of his best performances of the season against the Razorbacks, scoring 20 points and going 5-for-8 from the field. He had 11 points in the first matchup with Alabama.

Hannibal is averaging 5.2 points per game and 2.3 assists per game this season. He scored 8 points against Tennessee to go along with 11 rebounds and four assists. In the first game against Alabama, he had seven points.

LSU will be hoping to be the second straight Tigers to beat Alabama. Alabama is coming off a loss to rival No. 12 Auburn 99-81.

Alabama gave Auburn 50 free throw attempts and was outscored 40-26 in the paint. Sears led the team in points, rebounds and assists and Auburn forward Jaylin Williams led the Tigers in points with 26. Auburn built up a 14-point lead by halftime and never surrendered that lead as it got the best of the Tide.

Alabama is now in third place in the SEC standings after the loss to Auburn. South Carolina remains in first and the Tigers leapfrogged the Tide into second place after the win. All three teams have the same record in conference play at 8-2. LSU has fallen down to 9th place in the SEC standings after the loss to Tennessee.

Alabama has the No. 3 ranked offense in the country, averaging 89.5 points per game compared to LSU’s 77.1 points per game.

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Will Nickel

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