Tide’s focus on LSU Tigers, not Auburn loss

The Alabama men’s basketball team will look to recover from a 49-37 loss to the Auburn Tigers when it faces LSU on Saturday Feb. 9 in Coleman Coliseum.

The Tide (14-8, 6-3 SEC) had outscored Auburn 23-13 at halftime  on Wednesday, Feb. 6 but only scored 14 points in the second half to close out the game.

Head coach Anthony Grant said his team didn’t perform up to its expectations against its rival.

“We’ve got to play a lot better,” Grant said. “We didn’t play well [at Auburn]. Any time you look at the offensive numbers that we put up or the defensive numbers that we gave up it’s going to be tough to win in those situations when you don’t bring your best. We’ve got to understand that.”

Senior guard Andrew Steele said the Tide must forget the loss and move onto its next challenge in LSU.

“Obviously, losing hurts, no matter who it is,” Steele said. “When it’s against Auburn 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. But what we can control is what we do going forward, so what we can’t do is let one loss turn into two or three. All the focus right now is on a good LSU team tomorrow, other than that everything else is irrelevant.”

Grant praised the Tigers’ season and was impressed by its recent surge against Southeastern Conference competition.

“We’ve got a very talented LSU team coming into our building, so our mindset right now is on LSU,” Grant said. “They’re a very talented team. They’ve won four of their last five. I think they’re playing their best basketball right now.”

LSU (13-7, 4-5) has been on a roll recently, as it looks to win its fourth game in a row in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers have scored 70 or more points in 13 games this season, while Alabama has only accomplished that feat seven times.

LSU leads the SEC in steals per game with 10.3, and sophomore guard Anthony Hickey leads the league in steals with 3.4 per game.

Hickey and junior guard Andre Stringer have proved to be a deadly backcourt combination that Grant said have been “creating havoc” for the Tigers. Stringer is averaging 40.4 percent from behind the arc this season. His 18-point effort helped pull off the upset over Missouri on Jan. 30.

Grant said Stringer is a dangerous threat to the Tide with his ability to shoot treys and contribute on defense.

“I’ve been really impressed with the way he shoots the basketball,” Grant said. “Obviously, he’s extremely dangerous from three, he’s got unlimited range. He’s done a really good job for their team on the defensive end, as well.”

But the loss to Auburn still stings, as Alabama only completed 14-49 (28.6 percent) of its shots and gave up 16 turnovers.

Steele said the team must improve to reach its full potential.

“After every game – win or loss – we try to find ways to get better as a team,” Steele said. “That’s always our focus, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.