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Alabama 81, LSU 66: Crimson Tide closes with flurry to save embarrasment

By Chris DePew Staff
Jan. 14, 2017

After playing perhaps the worst 20 minutes of the Avery Johnson era, Alabama found its scoring mojo in the second half at LSU, scoring 53 points to put away the Tigers 81-66 and improve to 3-1 in SEC play.

What did we learn today?: Regardless of the standings, Alabama is closer to the bottom of the league than the top. The Crimson Tide came out of the blocks playing listless for the third consecutive game, and looked as though it had never seen an offensive play diagrammed, much less tried to execute one. Players stayed stagnant without the ball and once they got it they did little more than pass it around the perimeter to little effect. Bama didn’t look overly active on defense until the closing minutes yet three different players collected four fouls, including crucial freshmen Braxton Key and Dazon Ingram. LSU is a team in free fall just waiting to collapse at the first sign of adversity, but Bama couldn’t provide it until the final five minutes, when back-to-back Riley Norris treys sparked a 25-10 scoring outburst to close the game. Against any other SEC team except perhaps Missouri, Bama would be coming home smarting from a 20-point-plus beating.

What was the best part of the game?: When Johnson’s lessons finally sank in after halftime. Trailing 33-28, the Tide started stationing players around the foul line to penetrate LSU’s 2-3 zone and actually stuck with it for once. Norris was one of the first to benefit and soon enough the ball was getting crisply reversed out to the perimeter, where Corban Collins made the Tigers pay by catching fire from the arc. The duo combined to score 44 points, and while some of it came after LSU quit on defense late, much of it did not. And for as long as it took the offense to get going, Bama kept itself in the game that long by committing just 10 turnovers.

Who was the star?: Before he was at Alabama or even Morehead State, Collins began his career in purple and gold, and on Saturday he made his old team pay. The graduate transfer went 7-for-11 from 3-point range, scored a game-high 24 points and logged 32 minutes to cover for the erratic play of Ingram and Avery Johnson Jr.

What were the biggest concerns?: Ingram fattened his stat line during LSU’s late collapse to finish with six points and seven assists, but he was limited to just 18 minutes by foul trouble and only made one field goal for the second consecutive game. Johnson was limited to a pair of free throws and only saw 15 minutes of action, giving way to Collins at the start of the second half. Key followed up his best game with a nightmare showing, going 2-for-12 from the field, although he did pull down nine boards. Other than Collins, Riley and Donta Hall (6-for-7, 13 points), no other Bama player made more than two field goals.

What’s next?: Speaking of Mizzou, the league’s weakest team comes to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. Tipoff on ESPNU is at 6 p.m. Central.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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