Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game.
• What: Alabama (10-6, 2-2 SEC) at LSU (11-4, 2-1 SEC)
• When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
• Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
• All-time series: Alabama leads 106-71
• Last meeting: Alabama 90, LSU 62 (Feb. 18, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
• Streaking: Alabama (W1), LSU (W2)
• TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Jon Sundvold, analyst)
• Online: ESPN.com/watch
• Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7 (Chris Blair, play-by-play; John Brady, analyst)
• In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
• Up next: vs. Georgia, 6 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU)
In its first three SEC games, LSU played the team picked to win the league’s regular-season title (Kentucky) as well as the teams that were predicted to take third (Texas A&M) and sixth (Arkansas). Now comes Alabama, which placed fourth in the preseason poll chosen by a select media panel. The tough early schedule has been good to LSU, which lost to Kentucky by three before upending Texas A&M and Arkansas — both on the road. The Tigers now get two home games in which they hope to make another statement or two, starting with Alabama and then play Georgia on Tuesday. But it doesn’t get any easier than it was when they went on the road, especially against an Alabama team that was ranked in the AP poll for two weeks in a row in late November. The Avery Johnson-coached Crimson Tide is loaded with guards, including freshmen phenom Collin Sexton, who is leading the league at 19.5 points per game and is already being projected as an NBA lottery pick this summer, and freshman John Petty as well as sophomore Dazon Ingram. The Tide is also tough down low with sophomore Braxton Key, who explored his NBA options last season before returning, and Donta Hall, who is a much-improved player. Alabama started the season strong, but after a 5-0 start has been rather inconsistent with a 5-6 mark. Since a 22-point blowout of Texas A&M in its league opener, the Tide is 1-2, which means this game is important considering they have to face Auburn on Wednesday night.
• THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: In their first three SEC games, three LSU players are averaging seven rebounds a game — Duop Reath (9.0), Aaron Epps (7.3) and Tremont Waters (7.0), who had a career-high 11 vs. Kentucky.
• DEFENSE DOING WORK: LSU gave up just 19 field goals in a 75-54 bashing of Arkansas on Wednesday night, which tied the season low for an opponent. North Florida also had 19 in a 104-52 loss at LSU on Dec. 22.
• DEFENSE DOING WORK II: Going into Saturday’s games, Alabama was leading the league in SEC games only in steals (8.3) and blocks (7.5) and was second in scoring defense (65.0) — just a shade over LSU’s 65.3.
• DOWN TO THE WIRE: Seven of Bama’s 16 games have been decided by five points or fewer. The Tide is 4-3 with two one-point wins (UT-Arlington, Mercer) and won by three (Louisiana Tech) and four (Rhode Island).
• THE LITTLE GENERAL: Alabama coach Avery Johnson, a former Southern star point guard, recorded his 300th victory as a head coach (counting NBA) with a win over Texas A&M on Dec. 30. He is 301-222 in 10 seasons.
By the numbers
65.3 — Points allowed by LSU in its first three SEC games. In the Tigers’ 12 nonconference outings prior to league play, they gave up 73.4 points a game.
Alabama Crimson Tide (10-6, 2-2 SEC)
• G Collin Sexton, 6-3, Fr, 19.5 ppg, 3.5 apg
• G John Petty, 6-5, Fr., 12.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
• G Dazon Ingram, 6-5, So., 10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg
• F Braxton Key, 6-8, So., 3.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg
• F Donta Hall, 6-9, Jr., 11.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg
• G Herbert Jones, 6-7, Fr., 4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg
• G Avery Johnson Jr., 5-11, Jr., 4.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg
• F/C Daniel Giddens, 6-11, So., 4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg
LSU Tigers (11-4, 2-1 SEC)
• G Tremont Waters, 5-11, Fr., 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg
• G Skylar Mays, 6-4, So., 12.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg
• G Daryl Edwards, 6-3, Jr., 5.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg
• F Aaron Epps, 6-10, Sr., 10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg
• F Duop Reath, 6-11, Sr., 12.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg
• F Wayde Sims, 6-6, So., 7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg
• G Brandon Sampson, 6-5, Jr., 7.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
• G Randy Onwuasor, 6-3, Sr., 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg