Alabama 80, LSU 65: Crimson Tide peaking in time for SEC stretch run

Filed under: Basketball |

By Chris DePew
TideFans.com Staff
Feb. 13, 2018

Alabama shot better than 55 percent from the field for the fourth time in sixth games as the Crimson Tide blew past 80-65 at Coleman Coliseum.

What did we learn today?: Bama is evolving into the matchup nightmare the rest of the SEC feared it could be in the offseason. When this many Tide players are on top of their games, opponents have a handful of unappetizing choices to make. They can try clogging the paint to stop , but that leaves them vulnerable to ’s outside shooting or driving the paint to get to the rim or at least the foul line. Expand the defense outward and Hall becomes an unstoppable force around the basket. Play everyone straight up and can disrupt everything by exploiting his combination of size and quickness. Alabama had already proven it could take down the league’s best teams when it was playing at its peak. On Tuesday, particularly in the second half, it proved it could focus long enough to dominate a team it should be expected to handle. Instead of panicking when Sexton picked up his fourth foul with 15:50 remaining, the Tide outscored LSU 24-3 to salt the game away.

What was the best part of the game?: Neutralizing LSU’s top talents. Duop Reath was coming off a dominating 26-point performance in a win over Ole Miss, but got shut down by Bama’s rotating cast of defenders and finished with just five on Tuesday. Tremont Waters also finished with five points and only played 25 minutes due to foul trouble. He and Reath average 29 combined points per game, but combined to shoot 4-for-19 from the field and 0-for-2 at the line. Skylar Mays had an above-average game and Daryl Edwards led all scorers with 21 points thanks to some garbage time baskets, but there wasn’t nearly enough offense for the Tigers to pull the upset.

Who was the star?: Hall matched a career high with 20 points and was 8-for-10 from the floor for the second game in a row. By the end of his 25 minutes of work, teammates were just throwing the ball to the backboard and sitting back to admire Hall’s creative finishes. Oh, and he also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The rapidly improving Hall could be a contender next season for SEC player of the year in the mold of Georgia’s Yante Maten … if the NBA doesn’t snap him up first.

What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama’s hot shooting papered over some underlying problems, particularly in the first half. The Tigers got seven of their nine offensive rebounds in the first half while Bama suffered eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes (and 14 for the game). Free throw shooting stabilized at a respectable 16-for-23, but Sexton had three of the misses. Those clunkers and his foul trouble took some of the shine off his 15 points and six assists. LSU shot less than 40 percent, but that had less to do with the Crimson Tide’s defensive effort and more with several misses right at the rim.

What’s next?: A dozen years after its last win at Rupp Arena, Bama visits the Kentucky Wildcats for a 1 p.m. Central tipoff Saturday on CBS.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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