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LSU 72, Alabama 70: Tigers get a scare, but Tide gets another loss

Jan 13, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers forward Ben Simmons (25) against the Mississippi Rebels during the first half of a game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; forward Ben Simmons (25) against the Mississippi during the first half of a game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

By Chris DePew
.com staff
Jan. 23,

battled valiantly all day against faster, deeper, more talented LSU, but was done in by an offensive rebound, as Tim Quarterman put back his own miss with 33 seconds left to give the Tigers a 72-70 win in Tuscaloosa.

What did we learn today?: Avery Johnson is transforming into one of the toughest home courts in the SEC. The Crimson Tide hasn’t been particularly close to winning in three SEC road games but at home has upset No. 24 South Carolina and put a scare into talent-laden LSU. A sellout crowd seemed to fuel Bama as it seized the lead late in the first half and pushed the lead to six points before running out of gas. The difference in energy and confidence is striking. With six home games left, Bama is likely to be an underdog just once, against No. 10 Texas A&M.

What were the biggest concerns?: Shannon Hale got his first start in over a month and scratched out seven points, but his shooting percentage remains a disaster. Whether by design or a preference to avoid physical play, Hale doesn’t go inside nearly enough for a power forward. Instead he chucks up dubious 3-pointers, such as Saturday’s 1-for-8 showing behind the arc. While the other four starters were 54 percent from the floor (19-for-35), Hale went 2-for-10, and had more turnovers (four) than rebounds (three). He did have four assists and played credible on Ben Simmons, but Bama’s slide into mediocrity parallels his.

What was the best part of the game?: plays with more crispness and better morale than anyone has a right to expect from a with a 1-5 conference record. Retin Obasohan’s dribble drives not only led to another 20-point game but helped land Simmons and Craig Victor into foul trouble. Simmons, a near-certain lottery pick and possibly the national player of the year, had a solid game (23 points, eight rebounds, five assists) but didn’t embarrass Alabama by any means, which hopefully will give Bama’s beleaguered frontcourt some confidence down the stretch.

Who was the star?: The marketing department should hold a hard hat giveaway in Riley Norris’ honor. In 33 minutes of action, he flew around the court like leftover confetti from the parade across campus. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and the satisfaction of knowing he played possibly his best of the season.

What’s next?: Bama begins the friendliest part of its SEC schedule Tuesday when visits for an 8 p.m. tipoff on the SEC Network.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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