TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The first half was a struggle defensively for Alabama, but a second half surge powered by Mark Sears helped give Alabama a key SEC win at home.

Head Coach Nate Oats started a relatively small lineup, with four guards and Grant Nelson as a stretch-five. LSU was able to take advantage early on the inside, but the Crimson Tide were able to hold their own. Plus, when you score 50 points in a half, it is hard not to.

“We have so many talented guys…we can make different starting fives for different teams,” said Latrell Wrightsell Jr.

A back and fourth first half saw both teams shoot over 45 percent from the floor. Wrightsell Jr. and Aaron Estrada were both in double figures by halftime and with Sears struggling early, that backcourt boost was a must.

It was obvious that defense had to be the focus in the second half, but getting Mark Sears going would be a plus. Sears entered the second half with just six points on just two-of-six shooting, and he did not make a three in the first half.

For Sears in the second half, it was a different approach for him. Instead of relying on steady shooting and perimeter play, he drove inside a lot, and got to the line. He finished the game with 21 points, 15 of which came in the second half, and still did not make a three.

“He’s a super talented offensive player,” said Head Coach Nate Oats.

He was not the only one who had a strong second half. Estrada contributed 10 points and Mo Dioubate played a really solid seven minutes with six points, a block, and a steal.

The defense was better in the second half. Even though the Tigers scored 44 points in the half, Alabama limited runs and was able to get five steals and four blocks in the half. This allowed the Crimson Tide to pull away and secure a dominating 109-88 win.

This win really showcased just how good Alabama can be win, and without Mark Sears at times. The struggles of the first half were papered over with Estrada and Wrightsell Jr’s play. With Sears playing well in the second half, the team looked even better.

“I think we have the best backcourt in the country,” said Wrightsell Jr.

All five starters had over 12 points, something that shows a lot of promise. Sears is playing at an All-American level, but if the other four players he’s on the court with can step up, the sky might be the limit for this Alabama team.

Another thing this win does is gives Alabama sole possession of first place in the SEC with a 6-1 record, a half game up on Tennessee. The Crimson Tide should be in the mix for the top seed in the conference, but with more tough games against the likes of Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Alabama will have to really earn that spot.

The Crimson Tide are on the road in Athens to take on Georgia on Wednesday, before returning home to face Mississippi State next Saturday.