By Chris DePew
Feb. 18, 2017
After nearly a season-long struggle to put ball in basket, Alabama piled up points with unvarnished glee against overmatched LSU, shooting better than 53 percent in a 90-72 rout at Coleman Coliseum.
What did we learn today?: What the Crimson Tide could look like at peak efficiency, or at least during an extra-spirited practice. LSU has earned every bit of its 13-game losing streak, and as expected the Tigers waved the white flag at the first sign of adversity. But don’t discount the effort Bama gave to put LSU in an early hole and never let it up for air. The game’s first timeout didn’t come until 6:31 into the game, and by then the Crimson Tide was already up 22-13 on the strength of four Riley Norris treys. Alabama wound up shooting 32-for-60 from the field, sinking 10 3-pointers and placing five scorers in double figures.
What was the best part of the game?: As it became obvious Bama would win a laugher, it got into more of a fast-paced game and let LSU shoot a respectable 48 percent from the field. But when the game was still in doubt early, the Tide flashed the defensive tenacity that has carried it past last year’s SEC win total. In the course of three consecutive first-half possessions, the Tigers sandwiched two shot clock violations around another disastrous set that ended with a meek shot thudding off the front of the rim with one second left to shoot. Also of note, Braxton Key and Bola Olaniyan scored 11 apiece, but it was their seven assists and 15 rebounds respectively that popped off the stat sheet.
Who was the star?: Norris was locked in from his first shot and that usually means bad news for opponents. Fifteen of his team-high 17 points came in the first half as Alabama roared out to a 51-32 lead. He and Ar’Mond Davis (15 points) combined for seven of the Crimson Tide’s seven 3-pointers.
What were the biggest concerns?: Bama usually is able to frustrate the other team’s leading scorer, but it had no answers for Tigers guard Antonio Blakeney. The LSU sophomore hit his first eight shots from the field and nine of his first 10 to finish with 28 points in only 25 minutes. The Tide finished a pedestrian 1-for-7 from behind the arc after halftime, but with so many easy looks and lob opportunities inside, no team could have resisted such low-hanging fruit.
What’s next?: Alabama tries to complete its fourth series sweep of 2017 when Georgia comes to Tuscaloosa on Thursday. Tipoff on ESPN2 is set for 6 p.m. Central.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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