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Tide fighting for its postseason life against No. 25 LSU

Where to watch: No. 25 LSU (18-6, 9-2 – #34 KenPom rating) at Alabama (13-11, 5-6 – #48) – Today 3 p.m. Central, Coleman Coliseum, ESPN2

Who to watch: Herbert Jones. The junior from Greensboro was expected to be out a month after fracturing his wrist in the first meeting with LSU. Then that got shrunk to three weeks. Then there was talk that he might be available for next week’s Texas A&M game. Then he was participating in warmups at Auburn and sure enough he saw action that night, 11 days after his surgery. His minutes were limited, his offense was nonexistent and his left hand was more heavily padded than a Las Vegas expense account. But every time he entered the game it gave Bama’s defense an adrenaline boost, and if he can do that against LSU it will be most welcome. The Tigers scored at will during the Jan. 29 game in Baton Rouge, with forwards Trendon Watford and Emmitt Williams each recording a double-double while combining for 40 points. Too often lately the paint has become an express lane to easy points for Crimson Tide opponents. Even with him still mending, Bama needs Jones to be a roadblock.

What to watch for: Is this the game where effort and focus finally comes together for 40 minutes? The schedule says there are seven games left in the regular season, but the other six are going to feel hollow if the Tide can’t seize its best remaining chance at a high quality victory. The 14-point loss at LSU wasn’t a true indicator of how well Bama can score, particularly not against a defense as middling as this one. The Tigers aren’t any deeper than Alabama, so fatigue shouldn’t be a factor. And LSU has fallen back into the habit of letting opponents play closer than they should, which led to an upset loss at Vanderbilt and nearly cost it again in Tuesday’s four-point win against Missouri. If the Bayou Bengals feel complacent after the January blowout and get caught looking ahead three days to the Kentucky game, they are ripe for the plucking. But it can’t happen Alabama has another four-minute segment where it plays itself right out of the game. If the Tide wants to be anything special, this is the last chance to prove it.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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