Well how about that? It seems that my recap curse is broken, and Alabama finally managed to put away a weaker team after toppling a ranked team. The Tide didn’t just put LSU away, either, they did it in style.
When Dazon Ingram broke his multi-game 3-point drought by draining a 3 on the opening possession, you could almost feel the confidence oozing from the Tide. Collin Sexton and Donta Hall quickly got in on the action, and Alabama was up 7-0 before you could say “corndog.”
LSU rallied, and brought it back to a one-score game at 14-12, but then Alabama went on another run (fueled mostly by Hall continuing to flex on everyone) and got out to a 10 point lead. The Tide held somewhat near that margin for the rest of the half, and ended up going into halftime with a solid 39-30 lead.
To their credit, the Bengal Tigers opened the second half with a flurry of 3-pointers, bring the game to a tenuous 45-44 Alabama lead. The Tigers had momentum, and it looked like the Tide might pull off yet another collapse against a team they should beat. That’s when Duop Reath missed a dunk and Collin Sexton then snaked his way through a forest of swatting hands in transition to make a smooth layup while simultaneously crushing the entire LSU resistance.
Despite Sexton sitting out for most of the half after that moment with foul trouble, LSU did not score again for nearly 4 minutes, a run during which Alabama scored 10 points. A Tiger three pointer turned out not to break the drought, but just tantalize them with a couple of points before LSU went on an even longer 8 minute drought. All said, from 17:46 in the second half to 4:51 in the half (12:55, for those of you math inclined), Alabama went on a 29-5 run. A run during which Hall went absolutely nuts and probably earned himself a couple of NBA bucks.
Will Wade: "It looked like Donta Hall was playing on a Nerf goal out there."— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 14, 2018
After that, Lawson Schaffer got a little playing time while Alabama let off the gas and cruised to an easy 80-65 win.
As a team, Alabama shot 55.1% from the court and 47.6% from three-point range— numbers that will win you nearly any game. Meanwhile, LSU was consistent at 39% in both categories. The two teams tied with 14 turnovers each, while LSU just barely out-rebounded Alabama 33-32. The main difference in this game was shooting percentage. The Tide defense was in LSU’s face all game, preventing decent shots while the Alabama offense used its speed and length to attack the basket from all angles while hitting enough 3-point shots to keep LSU from condensing their defense.
Donta Hall was the big story in this game, as he tied his career high of 20 points (with 5 dunks) while adding 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. He was an absolute monster all game long and had the announcers fawning over him for most of the game.
Collin Sexton was next with 15 points, despite being in foul trouble for most of the second half. He had some bad turnovers from loose ball-handling, but he added 6 assists to go along with his 15 points.
Braxton Key had a solid, utility, game off the bench and had 12 points to go with 7 rebounds. He hit two 3-pointers and had a couple of beautiful drives into the lane to keep the offense moving. John Petty also had 11 points, going 3/3 on his 3-point shots (again, being an awesome shooter at home... not so much on the road).
This was a much-needed win for the Tide. Not necessarily for Tournament chances, but for the psyche of the team. They’ve heard for weeks now that they’re inconsistent and play down against teams they should beat. You can bet it’s been weighing heavily on their minds much more than than it does on ours as fans. So coming out tonight and absolutely trouncing LSU should go a long way in building the confidence and consistency of the team.
We saw a lot of team chemistry tonight and an offense that wasn’t afraid to pick up the tempo and use their length and athleticism to attack the rim. The nation is on notice now, and many pundits are starting to recognize just how dangerous this Tide team can be. If they can peak at the right time and consistently maintain their intensity, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish before 2018 ends.
Buckle up, and Roll Tide!