Of all the numbers Will Wade has crunched since LSU’s basketball season began in early November, there’s no doubt one of them has been stuck in the back of his mind for the past month.
Exactly one month ago today, LSU’s 74-66 setback to Alabama on the Tigers’ home floor had Wade seeing red — and it had nothing to do with the color of the Crimson Tide’s uniforms that evening.
With more than 13,000 boisterous fans in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Alabama had to go against LSU without leading rebounder Donta Hall — who was sidelined with a wrist injury.
Undeterred by that, as well as an off night by star point guard Collin Sexton, the Crimson Tide out-rebounded the Tigers by 16.
It was a number that was anything but sweet to Wade, whose team will get another crack at it when LSU (14-10, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) faces Alabama (16-9, 7-5) at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Coleman Coliseum.
Two days after their first meeting, Wade was still fuming about the Tigers’ inability to get on the backboards and compete with the Crimson Tide.
“They just killed us on the glass,” he said.
The minus-16 disparity was the worst of the season until Texas A&M outrebounded LSU 50-30 just 10 days later. At least the Tigers won that game.
Things haven’t changed much in the month since LSU and Alabama last met; the Tigers have outrebounded their opponent just three times in 11 conference games.
As a result, Wade’s team is last in just about every rebounding category in league play — including total rebounds (31.2 per game) and rebounding margin (minus-6.0). Alabama is fifth (35.9) and seventh (plus-1.1), respectively.
Hall, a 6-foot-9 forward who missed only one game with that wrist injury, is fifth in the SEC with 7.1 rebounds per game. Dazon Ingram, a 6-5 guard who had a team-high 10 rebounds against LSU, is right behind Hall at 6.0 a game.
In its most recent game, an 82-66 blowout of Ole Miss on Saturday, LSU lost the rebounding battle 40-36. But Wade said keeping the differential to a minimum, like that, at least gives them a chance.
Still, seeing Hall back in the lineup is a concern going into Tuesday night’s game.
“They killed us on the glass the first time and they have their best rebounder and best shot-blocker back,” Wade said Monday. “It’ll be a huge problem … as it is most nights.”
The good news is Alabama ranks 12th in allowing 35.7 rebounds for the entire season and LSU, even though it’s last with 33.4 per game, is within that minimal range Wade talked about.
In addition to the rebounding concerns, Wade said Alabama is playing as well as anyone in the league right now.
Alabama is especially tough on the defensive end, holding Florida and Tennessee to 50 points each in two of the Crimson Tide’s last three outings.
They crushed Tennessee, which was ranked 15th last week, 78-50 on Saturday.
“I had to turn the Tennessee game off with four minutes left so I could actually get some rest,” Wade said. “They played so well. It’s as good as I’ve seen a team on tape all season. They just played tremendous.”
He noted that Alabama is leading the league in conference games only in allowing just 64.4 points a game.
“They’re a really, really good defensive team, so it’s going to be tough sledding for us to score,” Wade said. “They’re the best defensive team in our league. It’s not just stats, they’re long, athletic, they block shots.
“They’ve gotten a lot better since the first time we played them. They’ve improved as much as any team I’ve seen in the league. They can beat you in a lot of different ways.”
WHAT: LSU at Alabama
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: vs. Missouri, 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)
• LSU forward Aaron Epps has career highs in points (226) and rebounds (138) with at least seven games to play.
• After making 29 of 58 field-goal attempts vs. Ole Miss, LSU is 9-0 when it hits at least 50.0 percent from the field.
• LSU has lost more games to Alabama (106) than any other school in the 110-year history of the Tigers program.
LSU (14-10, 5-7 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 14.9 6.0*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 11.0 3.8
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 6.5 1.4
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.8 6.0
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 14.2 5.4
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.6 3.3
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.8 2.0
G Brandon Sampson 6-5 Jr. 7.9 2.3
Alabama (16-9, 7-5 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Collin Sexton 6-3 Fr. 18.5 3.4*
G John Petty 6-5 Fr. 10.8 2.4
G Dazon Ingram 6-5 So. 10.1 6.0
F Donta Hall 6-9 Jr. 11.0 7.1
F/C Daniel Giddens 6-11 So. 4.7 2.7
F Braxton Key 6-8 So. 6.5 5.1
G Herbert Jones 6-7 Fr. 5.1 3.7
G Avery Johnson Jr. 5-11 Jr. 4.6 1.2