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LSU Basketball Opens SEC Play At Alabama Sunday

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ? The LSU Tigers have put a 30-point loss to Utah behind them and now look ahead to the start of a new season here Sunday afternoon ? Southeastern Conference play.

The Tigers, for the sixth time since 2000, open SEC play against the University of Alabama, this time at the Tide?s Coleman Coliseum at 12:30 p.m. as the feature Sunday men?s game of the first weekend of SEC play.

The game will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports (including WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge and Louisiana affiliates in Alexandra-KLAZ, Lafayette-KLAF, Monroe-KEJB and New Orleans-WUPL). The radio broadcast will be available to the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and to subscribers of the ?Geaux Zone? at

LSU is 12-2 on the year, coming off a 91-61 loss at Utah on Tuesday, while the Crimson Tide is 10-4 after a 66-59 loss at Clemson, also on Tuesday.

?It's a new season. A new season. Everything that has happened in the past can be thrown out the window," Coach Trent Johnson said when he visited with the media prior to the Tigers departure for Tuscaloosa.

Alabama leads the series, 95-65 and 61-17 in games played in Tuscaloosa. LSU defeated Alabama, 80-74, in the next-to-last game of the season in 2008, snapping a four-game Tide winning streak in the series.

LSU will be looking to improve its chances to win on the road after shooting just 22 percent in the second half at Utah while the Utes were pounding the ball in for the game at 63 percent. Johnson also knows his team has to improve defensively from what they showed Tuesday night.

?Well, for the most part its pretty much everything we've already known and talked about: transition defense, rebounding, although I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball. But it's those main things: defensive rebounding, transition defense, point of attack defense, and everything that deals with defense if you don't come out with a sense of urgency,? Johnson said.

"The only thing that was surprising to me was that we broke down in all phases. It wasn't anything that we didn't know as a basketball staff, but it was just one of those games, so to speak. Let's not kid ourselves, Utah is a pretty good basketball team and a better basketball team than we are. As hard as it is for me to admit and accept that, that's the bottom line. We did a few things in the first half where we broke down, but we were still in striking distance. In the second half we made some adjustments and their balance as a basketball team showed. We went to a zone, covered down in the post.

"The only thing I feel good about is that, non-conference we were 12-2 and the only two teams that beat us were better basketball teams than we are. That's all in the past and now we're looking forward to moving forward.?

LSU is expected to go with its normal lineup of Marcus Thornton, Garrett Temple and Bo Spencer at guards, Chris Johnson at center and Tasmin Mitchell at forward. Thornton leads the team in scoring at 18.3 points a game, equaling the longest double figure scoring streak of his career, 10 consecutive games. Spencer is averaging 12.5 points per game and Mitchell scoring at a 14.4 points per game clip. Johnson leads the team in rebounds at 7.0, while Temple leads the team in assist average at 4.0.

Alabama is led by guard Alonzo Gee at 14.5 points per game, while Senario Hillman averages 13.6 a game. Now healthy again Tide star Ronald Steele is averaging 13.4 points a game.

?For us, we move forward. In league play, it seems like everything is ratcheted up a little bit more because of the intensity and so on and so forth and Marcus (Thornton) and Bo (Spencer) have played better, but Garrett (Temple) has to play better and Chris Johnson has to play better. This is a total team thing. It's not any one individual player. We have to continue to improve and continue to make certain adjustments along the course of our game and have a short-term memory if things are going to go well for us and we're going to be successful,? Johnson said.

"I like 12-2. I like the fact that we've got a full squad with the exception of Garrett Green and I like the fact that we've addressed some academic issues and we're in a pretty good position there. I like the fact that I feel comfortable with where we are offensively, I really do. Like I said, we just need to make sure that mentally and physically, we're ready to compete at a higher level and we can continue to be tough and compete. It's like I told them, good teams and good players compete at a high level, they win on the road, they win at home and are always ready to play. That's where we need to get to."

LSU opens league play in January with three road games, three home games and a contest at home with nationally-ranked Xavier thrown in to the mix. LSU returns home on Wednesday night to face South Carolina before going on the road next Saturday to Oxford to face Ole Miss. Tickets for the LSU-South Carolina game are available online at