BATON ROUGE , LA. – Following Tuesday night’s program record 57 point victory vs Vanderbilt, the Crimson Tide traveled to Baton Rouge to take on the 12-10 LSU Tigers on Saturday Afternoon—looking to stay undefeated in SEC play.
The game started with sophomore center Charles Bediako getting a lot of touches early on and attacking the smaller Tiger defense, who quickly switched to a 2-3 zone.
It was a quick start offensively for the Tide, shooting the ball efficiently, and getting strong looks—but turning the ball over and giving up five early offensive rebounds kept LSU within reach early on.
The 1st half stayed close throughout because of LSU’s work in getting to the free throw line as well as junior Mississippi State transfer Derek Fountain scoring 18 first half points.
For the Tide, Nmari Burnett continued the momentum that he built last game with 13 1st half points including a trio of three pointers.
At half, the Tide were out in front 44-37, despite the Tigers shooting 28% from the field and 26% from three—their free throw shooting (13-14) was keeping them in the game.
The LSU defense on freshman star Brandon Miller, who was held to only five first half points and 2/8 from the field, was also a reason behind the close margin after 20 minutes.
The second half started out much more efficiently for the Tigers scoring 11 points in the first five minutes to cut the lead to four early on.
The scoring distribution for the Crimson Tide kept them out in front in the first ten minutes of the half, but the early offense from the Tigers’ guards Justice Hill and Cam Hayes matched Bama early on.
With 11 minutes to go, Brandon Miller picked up his 4th foul, sending him to the bench. With Miller out, LSU moved to a 3-2 zone which the Tide were able to take advantage of the space breaking down the zone and getting Mark Sears back to back threes to make the score 75-63 with just under seven minutes to go.
However, Bama struggled to put the Tigers away due to four straight minutes of empty possessions, which brought the lead down to seven with just under two minutes to go. Despite uneven play down the stretch, the Tide were able to pull through a 79-69 win to move to 10-0 in SEC play and 20-3 overall.
“It was ugly basketball there for a while, but I’m proud of the guys for the way they played on the defensive end. We’re going to have to win some games on that end of the floor,” Nate Oats said.
Coach Oats was pleased with the team’s effort, but was not particularly pleased with the way they played down the stretch—however he detailed that it wasn’t all on the players.
“We probably had the wrong guys in there to be honest with you, and that part is on me as a coach,” Oats said.
Freshman Rylan Griffin and Sophomore Nmari Burnett were huge on Saturday afternoon scoring 14 and 13 respectively off the bench.
Griffin, in particular, has emerged the last few weeks, showing the shooting prowess that Coach Oats has continued to reiterate, and that green light from the head coach has given him all the more confidence.
“Freshman year, I had to get used to it, but I’m used to it now. I’m getting a lot more confident,” Griffin said.
Alabama will look to move to 11-0 in conference play in Coleman next Wednesday night, as they will take on the 13-9 Florida Gators