By Chris DePew
Feb. 17, 2016
In a game with the highest stakes so far this season, Alabama got career bests from Retin Obasohan (35 points) and Riley Norris (16 rebounds) to stretch its winning streak to five games with a 76-69 win at LSU.
What did we learn today?: The path is clear to a NCAA tournament bid, but this team is capable of achieving more. The Crimson Tide has three home games left, all against teams with losing records. Nothing is automatic, but if Bama takes care of business at Coleman Coliseum it would have at least 19 victories, a winning record in the SEC and a solid computer ranking. If it could add in a win at Georgia in the regular season finale, Alabama would be in very good shape to secure a double bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, a godsend for a thin team nursing injuries. It would also probably mean a spot in the main tournament without sweating out one of the dreaded play-in games in Dayton, Ohio. With the Tide playing as confident and loose as they have the last two weeks, all of those goals are suddenly quite reasonable.
What was the best part of the game?: Justin Coleman was already having a good game, but when the Tigers put Bama on the ropes early in the second half, the sophomore guard delivered a devastating counterpunch, scoring seven points in two possessions as part of a career-best (notice a theme?) five 3-pointers. His 21 points were a welcome gift, along with a team-high five assists as Alabama overcame an eight-point deficit to salt the game away.
Who was the star?: Obasohan will live on in LSU’s nightmares for years if the talented Tigers miss the big dance. He hit 11 field goals and all 11 of his free throws, obliterating his previous career high of 27 points set last month at Auburn. It was all about the backcourt on offense, as he, Coleman and Arthur Edwards had all but eight of Bama’s points.
What were the biggest concerns?: It would have been nice to have seen more frontcourt production, or at least fewer turnovers in the paint, but that wasn’t the role Alabama’s big men were asked to play and harping on that would discredit the fine work they did on defense. LSU got 21 points from Craig Victor and 20 from Ben Simmons, but the big men had to work for what they got, as the Tigers only outscored Bama in the paint 26-20. LSU won the turnover battle 14-5 and could have made things much closer with even a mediocre showing at the foul line (instead of Wednesday’s 20-for-35 stinker) but credit the Crimson Tide for being ready and able to pounce when the opening presented itself.
What’s next?: After back-to-back-to-back upset wins, Alabama switches from being the hunter to the hunted when Mississippi State invades Coleman Coliseum on Saturday. The SEC Network broadcast is set for 1:30 p.m. Central.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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