The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated LSU 79-69 on Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Tide improved to 20-3 overall and 10-0 in the SEC with the win, while the Tigers fell to 12-11 overall and 1-9 in league play. Bama won by double digits despite not scoring a field goal in the last seven minutes of the game. Four Alabama players scored in double figures.
Coach Nate Oats stayed with the starting five of Mark Sears, Jaden Bradley, Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, and Brandon Miller. Bediako, as he often has this season, was the early offense for the Tide, scoring the team’s first six points on two dunks and a lay in. After the 40 point blowout loss to Bama just three weeks ago the Bayou Bengals came to play today, hanging within striking distance of the Tide all game.
Nimari Burnett continued his hot play from Tuesday night, making three of five from three point range early in the game. A technical on Oats after he questioned a shooting foul called on his team gave the Tigers four points and the ball. With 7:27 left, the freebies cut the Bama lead to 29-24. The free throw line kept LSU in the game throughout the half. The score at the break was 44-37 in favor of Bama.
Alabama shot 16-30 for 53%, 6-13 from three for 46%, and made 6-6 free throws in the half. Numbers like that should indicate a large lead, especially when the Tigers shot only 10-36 for 28% including 4-18 from deep for 22%. However, 13-14 from the charity stripe kept the home team within striking distance. Both teams had 20 rebounds at the break, and the Tide had four turnovers while LSU had only one. Burnett had 13 points to lead the team while Clowney had nine and Bediako scored eight. Derek Fountain scored 18 for LSU.
The Tide had Burnett and Rylan Griffen join Sears, Clowney, and Miller to begin the second half. Sears and Griffen hit early shots from behind the arc but LSU had a little hot period and kept the game close, at 50-48 with 15:08 remaining. Clowney hit a three pointer with 11 minutes left to make the lead 66-56 for Bama. When Miller drew a questionable second and third foul, followed by a no doubt fourth one, he had to go the bench with just over 10 minutes left.
Two makes from long range from Sears and one by Griffen pushed the lead to 75-63 with six plus minutes left. That would be the last field goal the Tide would score in the game. Fortunately for Bama the Tigers couldn't toss the ball in the basket either and free throws by Sears and Miller sealed the deal for the 79-69 win. The 69 points scored by LSU matched the most given up by the Tide in SEC play this season.
In the second half Bama cooled down to 10-28 for 36%, but did make 7-16 from three point range for 44% while making 8-9 free throws. Overall the Tide shot 26-58 for 45%, 13-29 from deep for 45%, and 14-15 from the free throw line for 93%. The team had 35 rebounds, 19 assists, five blocks, four steals, and only nine turnovers. Griffen led a quartet in double figures with 14 points on 4-5 from three point range. Clowney had 14 of his own with six rebounds while shooting an efficient 6-9 from the floor. Burnett had 13 with three rebounds and three assists, and Sears had 13 as well. Miller had an “off night” and finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds with four assists and no turnovers. Burnett was awarded the player of the game and Miller grabbed the hard hat award.
LSU shot 9-26 for 35% in the second with 3-9 from three and 11-17 from the line. Overall the Tigers shot 19-62 for 32%, 7-27 for 26% from three and made 24-31 for 77% at the free throw line. The home squad had 40 rebounds, 11 assists, seven steals, eight blocks, and only eight turnovers. Fountain had a career high 26 points to lead all scorers.
With the shooting numbers of the Tide, the lack of turnovers, the inability of LSU to shoot, and the quality of the opponent there was no way this game should have been this close. The 31 trips to the free throw line kept the Tigers in the game along with the long cold spell from the floor by Bama over the last several minutes of action. Nevertheless a double digit win on the road in the SEC will always work. The 10-0 league start matches the 2020-21 team’s start when they won the regular season and tournament titles. With Purdue losing this afternoon to Indiana and Tennessee losing Wednesday to Florida, the Tide has a chance to be at the top of the polls next week.
Next up is a home game with Florida on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The game is scheduled for ESPN2 or ESPNU.