The Crimson Tide basketball team would love to emulate the football team, and they have... in the injury department. Braxton Key missed the first month of the season after knee surgery, Riley Norris is out for the year following hip surgery, and now Donta Hall is out for about the next 10 days after a surgical procedure on his wrist. On top of that, LSU came into the night with tons of momentum after a couple of road wins, including a 20-point drubbing of Arkansas in Fayetteville on Tuesday night.
The Tide used a brillant game from Dazon Ingram, 18 points and 10 rebounds, along with great defense and perfect (18-18!) free throw shooting to take their first road win of the season. Ingram was backed up by 15 points from Collin Sexton, nine from Alex Reese, and eight from Galin Smith. Coach Avery Johnson took a page from Nick Saban’s playbook and had all five of his freshmen on the court together for several minutes down the stretch.
With Hall out, Daniel Giddens got the start in the middle along with Ingram, Sexton, Braxton Key, and Herbert Jones. However Giddens picked up two quick fouls and had to be replaced by Smith and Reese, who both had fantastic games. Because of foul trouble Giddens only played eight minutes, forcing Reese and Smith to play important minutes.
The Tigers kept a small lead for much of the first half as both teams started off slowly. Five minutes into the game the score stood at 4-4. Things heated up somewhat after that, and the Tide somehow managed a 32-30 lead at the intermission despite leading scorers Sexton and Petty managing only three points each. Bama was 12-30 (40%) at the half, including 4-11 (36%) from three point range, and made all four of their free throw attempts. LSU was 11-31 (36%)from the field including 4-17 (23%) from the three point line. The Tigers were also 4-4 from the free throw line.
Coming out of the break, the Tide took over. Sexton scored three quick baskets by getting to the rim and finishing. LSU was cold and Bama built a 15 point lead with 7:21 left, at 58-43. At that point it appeared that the Tide went into prevent offense and stopped attacking the basket. LSU wasn’t making any shots, but continued to get to the free throw line and cut into the lead. When Sexton had what appeared to be a three-point play opportunity taken away by a bad charging call, things started to get tight.
The Tigers were sitting at three team fouls with around four minutes left before they had to start fouling. The Tide finally took their first free throw of the second half with 3:50 left in the game. Bama held a 66-61 lead after a long three by Tremont Waters of LSU with 1:10 left. At that point Tiger coach Will Wade lost his mind and drew a technical, and should have been ejected, for arguing an earlier call and making contact with a referee. Wade also almost destroyed the scorers table. Sexton made both freebies and the Tide got the ball back.
Sexton inexplicably fouled Waters while he was attempting a long three-pointer with 19 seconds left. The foul was Sexton’s fifth, taking him out of the game. Waters made two of three. Ingram hit four more free throws to seal it.
For the game Bama was 25-57 (44%), including 6-22 (27%) from deep and a perfect 18-18 from the free throw line. Ingram was 10-10,Sexton 6-6 and Avery Johnson, Jr 2-2, so the Tide’s three best free throw shooters took all of their free throws. The Tide destroyed LSU on the boards 40-24, including 12 on the offensive end. Against South Carolina on Tuesday the Tide took care of the ball and distributed it very well. That wasn’t the case in this one as the team turned it over 19 times and only had eight assists. Without Hall in the middle they still blocked four shots, and had eight steals.
LSU shot 21-52 (40%) from the field, including 7-25 (28%) from deep. The Tigers were 17-22 for 77% from the free throw line. The home team had 13 assists, 14 turnovers and 11 steals.
Ingram was by far the star of the game with a double-double plus three assists and three steals. Sexton struggled, but still put in 15 points on 4-16 shooting, and committed nine turnovers. The Tigers clearly had a plan to keep Sexton from wreaking havoc in the paint, as he is wont to do. Smith played a career high 29 minutes and continues to impress. Eight points and four rebounds aren’t huge numbers, but he was a presence down low. Combined Smith and Reese were 8-11 for 17 points and seven rebounds to help make up for missing Hall and his 11 point, eight rebound, three blocks per game averages. Jones had his usual solid game with five points, six rebounds, a couple of steals and two charges taken. Key continues to round into shape and added six points and four rebounds.
The much needed win keeps the Tide on life suport in regards to post season play. With four of the next five games at home, hopefully the Tide can get hot and extend this two game streak. The team welcomes the red hot 15-1 (5-0) Auburn Tigers to Coleman on Wednesday night at 6 p.m CT. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.
Buckle Up RTR