Alabama started this game hot and just kept the fire going the entire half. John Petty, ever the long range sniper, launched four straight 3-point shots without so much as touching the rim in the first 3 minutes of the game. Two of them were pure NBA material, making the shot from well beyond the arc with a guy right in his face. Petty was feeling it, and he was going to keep shooting.
Not to be outdone by the much older senior, freshman Josh Primo hit back-to-back threes right behind Petty, meaning Alabama hit 6 in a row on their first 7 possessions and the Tide was up to a 19-point lead only minutes into the game. To their credit, LSU made a number of really tough shots the entire half despite the Tide defense forcing a flurry of early turnovers, keeping the score differential right around the 20-25 point mark the rest of the half.
Following the never ending hailstorm of long-range threes from Petty and Primo, Jahvon Quinnerly got in on the action and made three of his own in quick succession, giving the Tide 40 points in only 10 minutes. For those of you that like rates, Alabama was on pace to scored 160 at that point.
They did cool off a bit in the final 10 minutes of the half, only scoring 20 more points. Remember the Anthony Grant days when it was a good offensive day if the Tide got to 30 in the first half? What a time that was.
Petty and Primo added three more triples as the game got much chippier in the closing minutes of the half. Steals, loose balls, and fouls abound as the two teams scrapped for every ball.
The Tigers did hit a nearly half-court buzzer beater to get the 32 points, dropping Alabama’s lead to just slightly less than double.
Rather than letting the interruption of halftime cool their rhythm, Alabama came out into the second half with just as much deep precision. Petty, Primo, and even Herb Jones got in on some early threes in the first four minutes. Primo also added a few highlight plays in the paint. Quinnerly finished things off with another packet of three-in-a-row threes, jumping the Tide out to a 43 point lead, and the Tide started working in the bench players for the last 10 minutes as the Tide cruised to a 105 point outing and LSU clawed their way to 75 meaningless points.
Petty, Primo, and Quinnerly split the limelight evenly for the Tide tonight, getting 24, 22, and 22 points. The three combined to go 20/25 from three-point range, and you just aren’t ever going to lose a game with that kind of sharpshooting.
Josh Primo in particular had his best outing of his freshman season so far, nailing so many three pointers while adding a number of nice plays in the paint and moving the ball. Meanwhile, Petty was a big presence on defense, adding a team-high three steals.
Herb Jones was his usual self, adding 13 points, 5 assists, and a steal. He was tasked with going man-to-man with LSU star Trendon Watford all game long, and did an admiral job. Watford ended up with only 11 points while shooting 4/11 and had a couple of turnovers.
Jaden Shackelford had a tremendous game in his own right. Though he didn’t make any shots from deep and only had 6 points, he was the Tide’s most effective player at driving the basket all game long, and added a team-high 8 assists. His efforts there actually led the Tide in +/- stats with 37.
In terms of effort, James Rojas led the team in both rebounds and blocks despite only playing 13 total minutes due to taking an elbow to the nose and picking up a few fouls.
Darius Miles and Keon Ambrose-Hylton both got significant playing time in the final quarter of the game and showed some good stuff. Miles looks to have a highly instinctual ability to catch a ball and pass it quickly in traffic, while Ambrose-Hylton has those go-go-gadget arms that have teammates looking to get him the chance to dunk it on every play.
Look, if you hit 23/43 three-point shots (with most of the misses coming from the backups after the game was in hand), you’re not going to be losing very often. Alabama was scoring 3 points per minute very consistently for 3 quarters up until they subbed in the bench, and even a talented shooting team like LSU couldn’t keep up with that.
While that kind of shooting success isn’t going to be sustainable game to game, the other aspects of this night absolutely are. On offense, Alabama constantly had the LSU defenders a few feet behind on every pass, and so they just kept moving the ball until they got open looks... Then converted.
Defensively, they put up a tremendous effort. Almost every LSU point was hard fought and contested, and the Tide racked up a number of steals early on to allow them to race out to such an early lead.
The sheer effort and consistent intensity is something we have very, very rarely seen in an Alabama basketball team. There were no 5 minute slumps at any point... Even the bench and walk-ons kept up the effort until the very final buzzer.
That’s winning basketball, and that’s why Alabama is pushing to be a top-15 ranked team and currently a projected #3 seed.