Alabama rolled into Baton Rouge in search of their 20th win on the season, but LSU won a hard fought battle 80-77 in overtime.
The game started off a bit rough for the Tide. On the first possession, LSU’s defense completely lost Jahvon Quinerly in the corner but he missed a wide open three then, after an offensive rebound, missed another just as open from the same spot. That kicked off a 13-5 LSU run to open things, but the Tide showed fight that they have lacked at times. After the early struggles, Quinerly caught fire and led the Tide to a two point lead at the break. Noah Gurley put the exclamation on it.
The second half was an entertaining up-and-down affair as the teams traded blows, both playing at max intensity. Keon Ellis came out of the locker room with guns blazing and was seemingly everywhere. He scored ten points in the first eight minutes of action. Darius Miles had himself a nice little highlight to put the Tide up five with about seven minutes left.
Things stayed close from there. With 2:41 left, LSU got the benefit of a horrendous foul call on James Rojas when LSU big Darius Days plowed right over him. Days made both free throws to put the Tigers up 70-67. The Tide got the benefit of a make-up call with 12 seconds left when Keon Ellis got away with a travel near midcourt and was subsequently, and inexplicably, fouled. As usual, Ellis made both of his freebies to tie the game. Days missed at the buzzer and we were on to overtime.
The extra period was as close as the rest of the game, but the Tide had two horrible possessions late. Up one with under a minute to play, Quinerly and Ellis stood at the top of the key handing the ball back and forth, neither seemingly willing to go to the basket. With the shot clock running down Ellis put up a contested three that was blocked right into a layup at the other end. LSU called timeout then funneled the ball to JD Davison, selling out to deny the ball to Quinerly. The ball was knocked out of bounds with four seconds left and was inbounded back to Davison who was blissfully unaware of the shot clock situation and dribbled right into a violation with eight seconds left. Two LSU free throws and a Quinerly desperation miss later, the game was over.
Nate Oats lamented his team’s effort in Wednesday’s debacle, but there are no such complaints after this one. Both teams gave it everything they had today in about as physical a game as you will ever see, with bodies hitting the floor regularly. Turnovers were still a problem, but LSU does that to opponents as one of the best defensive teams in the nation. It was curious that leading scorer and veteran Jaden Shackelford was on the bench in overtime while freshman Davison stayed on the floor, but Shack was not having a good day shooting it.
The Tide finish what has been a mercurial regular season performance at 19-12. It’s now on to the SEC Tournament before the real March Madness begins. Fortunately none of those games will be on the road where the Tide managed a paltry 3-6 mark.