Photo by Lexi Hall from The Crimson White
“Alabama holds on against LSU 80-79 to Hold Up The SEC Tourney Trophy”
By Austin Rader
The Alabama men’s basketball team did something on Sunday that no Bama basketball team had done in thirty years – win the SEC tournament championship. In a back and forth battle with LSU, which started before the tip-off when players from both teams were jawing at each other, Bama held it together at the end for an 80-79 win.
This was quite a feat as the basketball team hadn’t been in the title game since 2002, and had not won the SEC tourney since 1991. On Sunday afternoon in Nashville, the game represented the grit and fight of the Bama-LSU football rivalry, with both teams battling through clutch threes, and defensive stops.
Keon Ellis got the game started with a nice layup. He followed that up with a three and an unselfish pass to Jaden Shackelford for a three of his own. Not even two minutes into the game and Alabama was up 8-0.
LSU’s Cameron Thomas was big in the first half hitting three threes from beyond the arc and kept the Tigers in the game. The Crimson Tide’s Juwan Gary provided the spark off the bench.
LSU’s Trendon Watford came to play. The Birmingham native, who many thought would choose the Crimson Tide to play college basketball, led all scorers with 30 points on 56% shooting.
Jaden Shackelford led the way for the Crimson Tide with 21 points and five threes. Herbert Jones had another double-double that included a couple of highlight dunks.
In a back and forth physical game where you were patiently waiting for one team to go on a big run and build a lead.
It never came.
Coach Oates noted at halftime that he felt the Bama starters would benefit by having played fewer minutes earlier in the tournament than the Tigers’ starters. But this didn’t seem to matter as the game wore on in the second half. It was clear this match-up was going to come down to the final possession.
Early after intermission, Ja’Vonte Smart hit three threes for LSU while Jaden Shackelford came alive for the Tide scoring 13 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
In the final minute, the Alabama natives took over. Trailing by one with just under thirty seconds remaining, LSU went to Trendon Watford who scored on a backdoor cut and-one. After his missed free throw, Herb Jones grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast for a layup to put the Tide back up by one with 19.5 seconds remaining.
Defense wins championships. With seven seconds remaining, Watford shot a contested three that didn’t even reach the basket. A missed putback by Aundre Hyatt was in-and-out and LSU couldn’t get another shot off as time expired securing the Crimson Tide’s undisputed SEC Championship.
Jahvon Quinerly was named the MVP of the tournament. Against LSU he finished with 14 points and 4 assists. He hit three clutch threes and was huge in the first half scoring all 10 of his points in the final five minutes of play.
A sign in Tuscaloosa read “Rebounding = Final Four.” Alabama answered the bell this afternoon. They out rebounded the Tigers 50-43. Alabama’s bench outscored LSU’s bench 28-0.
Inside the stadium Coach Oats was asked about Alabama becoming a basketball school. He simply said, “We’re a championship school.”
Alabama has secured a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and will play 15 seed Iona on Saturday at 4:00 pm ET. LSU will be an 8 seed and will play 9 seed St. Bonaventure on Saturday at 1:45 pm ET.