The Alabama Crimson Tide spanked the LSU Tigers by a score of 90-72 on Saturday to sweep the season series from the hapless visitors from Baton Rouge. The Tide improved to 16-10 overall and 9-5 in the SEC. The Bengal Tigers dropped to 9-17 overall and a abysmal 1-13 in league play.
‘Bama excelled in all aspects, scoring a season high 51 points in the first half while hitting 9-18 shots from three point range. Riley Norris got the party started, hitting four quick shots from long range to give the team a lead that it never relinquished. Ar’Mond Davis entered the game with three from long range of his own. ‘Bama lead 51-32 at the break.
With a huge lead against an overmatched team, all the Tide needed to do in the second half was to run clock, play smart and take home the win. ‘Bama did that, stretching the lead to as many as 26 points before ending up with the final margin of 18. Antonio Blakeney is a legitimate star for LSU and finished as the game’s leading scorer with 28 points. He just did not have any help.
The Tide held LSU to 48% shooting (26-54), including only 4-13 (30%) from deep. The Tigers hit 16-22 from the charity stripe (72%), about the only thing they did well in the game. They tallied 28 rebounds and nine assists against 15 turnovers. ‘Bama shot 32-60 (53%) from the field with 10-25 from three point range for 40%. The Tide “improved” to 16-24 from the free throw line for 67%. UA once again won on the boards with 33 caroms. More impressive was the 20 assists (season high) against a season low 10 turnovers. Strangely enough the team did not block any shots for the first time all season.
Norris led five players in double digits with his 17 points, followed by Ar’Mond Davis with 15 and Braxton Key, Jimmie Taylor and Bola Olaniyan with 11 each. Olaniyan recorded his first double-double, cleaning the glass to the tune of 16 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive end. Olaniyan continues to lead the NCAA in offensive rebounding percentage. Coach Avery Johnson brought Olaniyan in as a graduate transfer for just that very reason, and his toughness as rubbed off. After finishing very near the bottom in the SEC in rebounding last season, the team is at the top this year in that important category.
Donta Hall added eight points and seven rebounds, while Dazon Ingram had eight points and seven rebounds. Key was the main assist man with seven, a career high. Fan favorite, walk on Lawson Schaffer saw a few minutes of action at the end of the game and notched two nifty assists.
The deep bench that seemed to be a Tide strength early in the year has dwindled, with a season-ending injury to Brandon Austin, Nick King’s illness and the just announced indefinite suspension of Shannon Hale for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Now the bench consists of Taylor, Davis, Corban Collins and Avery Johnson, Jr. The tighter rotation actually seems to help the team.
‘Bama is on a little roll, and has four winnable regular season games left to try and make a post-season push. At 16-10, 9-5 in the league, a 20-10 and 13-5 record would be amazing. The games left are a home game with Georgia, a road contest at Texas A&M and a home game with Ole Miss before they close with a road trip to Knoxville to take on Tennessee. A more likely scenario would be to split the four games, giving the team an 18-12 record, with 11-7 in league. However it pans out, Coach Johnson has done a remarkable job, using duct tape, bailing wire and bondo to forge a team that (for the most part) has battled to become relevant. Help is on the way and it should be fun to see what Johnson can do with talent up and down the roster.
The Georgia game will be Thursday night at 6:00 p.m CT and will be shown on ESPN2.
Buckle Up and Roll Tide
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