Corban Collins and coach Avery Johnson enjoyed their homecomings to Louisiana, as the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the LSU Tigers 81-66 on Saturday afternoon. Collins, who started his college career with the Tigers, scored a Bama career high of 24 points on 7 of 11 three point shooting, and New Orleans native Johnson defeated the Tigers in his home state. The win improved the Tide to 3-1 in the SEC and 10-6 overall. LSU dropped to 1-4 in the league and 9-7 overall. Tiger coach Johnny Jones remains on the hottest of hot seats, and possibly may not make it through the season.
The Tide started out slowly and fell behind by six at halftime. ‘Bama was burned by poor shooting in the first stanza, 9-32 (28%), including 3-14 (21%) from three point range. The free throw shooting was better, 7-9, but the rebounding was poor. LSU hit 12-30 for 40% in the first half, but were only 1-7 from deep, but did hit 8-10 from the free throw line. The Tigers led 33-28 at the break.
‘Bama came out with renewed energy in the second half, starting Braxton Key, Donta Hall, Dazon Ingram, Riley Norris and Collins - for Avery Johnson, Jr. The game went back and forth, with the Tide relying on Collins and Norris for scoring punch, until with the score tied 56-56, Collins hit a long three to give the men in Crimson a lead they never relinquished. Norris followed up with a couple of threes of his own, while Hall had three slam dunks in three trips down the floor for the rejuvenated Tide team. Collins continued firing away and the defense clamped down while ‘Bama went on a 16-2 run to salt the game away. Collins finished with 24 points and Norris with 20, only the second and third Tide players to score 20 or more points in a game this year, joining Key, who scored 25 vs Florida earlier this week.
Coach Johnson tightened up to rotation, and it paid off. Eight players garnered most of the playing time, with Shannon Hale earning one minute of playing time, and Ar’Mond Davis just eight minutes. Johnson Jr, played only 15 minutes, which is more in the vein of what this team needs for him. Johnson was 0-6 from the field and scored two points on 2-2 from the free throw line. Over a several game streak, Johnson had led the team in shot attempts, something that doesn't need to happen. Collins seems to be rounding into shape from his injury and was magnificent in 32 minutes of action. Norris was 6-12 from the field, hitting several mid range jumpers and 3-7 from three point range. The junior added five rebounds to his 20 points in 35 minutes. Ingram suffered from foul trouble, which held down his minutes to 18, but scored six points, with five rebounds and seven assists, and more importantly, no turnovers. Hall played 21 minutes and had a strange stat line, scoring 13 on 6-7 shooting, but only grabbing an uncharacteristic two rebounds. Key was also in foul trouble, but managed 33 minutes, scoring seven, with a team leading nine rebounds and three assists. Key shot only 2-12 from the field. Bola Olaniyan grabbed six rebounds in 22 minutes and provided toughness. This was the first game the Tide has won when giving up more than 62 points in a game this year.
The Tide shot a sizzling (for them) 51% in the second half, 16-31 including 7-14 from long range. However, they only shot 14-23 from the free throw line for 60% in the stanza. Overall ‘Bama was 25-63 for 39% , 10-28 from three for 36%, and 21-32 for 65% from the free throw line. LSU was held to 42% shooting on 23-54 shooting and 5-16 from three. The Tigers hit 15-21 free throws for 71%. After getting beat on the boards in the first half, the Tide bounced back to win the rebound battle 41-37. For the first time in several games, ‘Bama had more assists, 15, then turnovers, 10, which greatly helped in the win. Alabama’s defense forced 18 turnovers, grabbing nine steals, leading to a 25-8 margin in points off of turnovers. The Tide bench outscored the Tigers bench 33-24. LSU did score more in the paint, 34-20, a byproduct of the 10 made three pointers by ‘Bama.
Things are setting up nicely for the Tide to continue their hot start to conference play, hosting the hapless Missouri Tigers (5-10, 0-3) on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. CT., followed by road trips to Auburn (11-6, 1-4) and Georgia (11-6, 3-2). When Collins and Norris are hitting shots, and Ingram isn't turning the ball over, this team will have a chance against any SEC team not named Kentucky. Hall has come a long way offensively, and when he stays out of foul trouble, can be a force inside. Key is simply the best player on the court for the Tide, even if he isn't hitting shots.
The Missouri game will be shown on ESPNU.
Roll Tide, Buckle Up