It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but Alabama broke a three game losing streak with a critical home win over #13 LSU.
As expected, this was a physical, hard fought battle from the jump. JD Davison got his first start in place of Jahvon Quinerly, and it seemed to light a spark under Quinerly. He came off the bench lighting it up to the tune of 16 first half points including 2-4 from three, an area in which he has struggled of late. James Rojas came off the bench as well and provided a spark for the second consecutive game. He’s not a guy who is going to fill up the stat sheet, but this particular team can use the occasional infusion of toughness he provides. The Tide shot 37% from three on 19 first half tries, but led by only one point following a four point play at the buzzer. Alabama forward Juwan Gary and LSU forward Darius Mays both left the game with injury and would not return.
Alabama came out hustling in the second half, seemingly winning most loose balls. Still, LSU is a tough out. Midway through the half the score stood at 49-44. Alabama. The Tide took over from there, however. Following a Will Wade hissy fit and ensuing technical foul, the Tide held a 14 point lead at 57-43 with just under eight minutes to play despite hitting exactly nothing outside the arc.
LSU refused to quit, hitting four consecutive threes to spur a 15-1 run and a tie game with just inside of five minutes left. Guard Eric Gaines hit the first three of them, which was three more than Alabama made in 15 second half tries. Fortunately LSU turned cold from outside after that and the Tide kept up the intensity to close out a critical conference win. Free throw shooting down the stretch was terrible, but it luckily didn’t cost them. A three pointer by Gaines clanged off the rim at the buzzer, and the Tide survived a game that shouldn’t have been so close.
It was encouraging to see the team get it done on the defensive end of the floor, in transition and attacking the rim, but the struggles from three continue to confound in conference play. It’s hard to imagine them going far without getting that three point percentage up around 35 on a somewhat consistent basis. No matter, they got it done tonight in a game that they needed to pull even in SEC play.
We’ll take it.