LSU 88, Alabama 79: Tide can’t get on track in time to spring upset

Jan 8, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers forward Kavell Bigby-Williams (11) blocks a shot by Alabama Crimson Tide guard Herbert Jones (10) during the first half at the Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 8, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Tigers forward Kavell Bigby-Williams (11) blocks a shot by Alabama Crimson Tide guard (10) during the first half at the Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

By Chris DePew
TideFans.com Staff
Jan. 8, 2019

Alabama fell behind by as many as 19 points in the second half before cutting the deficit down to four but ultimately couldn’t get enough defensive stops in an 88-79 loss at LSU.

What did we learn today?: The value of extra practice and total focus. Remember how Bama picked off Kentucky with the benefit of a full week of preparation, an energetic home crowd and total buy-in for the game plan? To the shock of no one, the Tigers turned the tables after an 11-day layoff of their own. Eager to stake a claim in the SEC race and solidify an already-favorable resume, LSU came out firing away over the top of a packed-in Tide defense, hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half. Even when Tremont Waters joined Skylar Mays on the bench with 5:55 to go before intermission, LSU increased its lead from five to 15 points over that stretch. The Crimson Tide outscored the Tigers 51-45 after the break, but that had quite a bit to do with LSU’s young team losing defensive focus after building a huge lead. The game was decided in the first 20 minutes.

What were the biggest concerns?: It was so disheartening to see Bama go back into its offensive shell with the isolation plays and dribble drives that too often left undersized players trapped in no-man’s land under the basket. lasted 91 seconds and two possessions worth of pointless dribbling and no offensive flow before getting benched for . But the disease spread throughout the backcourt with only faint reminders of the fluid ball movement and interior passing from the UK upset. Ingram and Petty combined to shoot 3-for-13 from the floor with six turnovers as the 2 guard spot remains an open liability. Herbert Jones of all people had success with the dribble drive, finishing 5-for-10 from the floor, but even that could prove to be a negative if it encourages him to continue taking low percentage chances against defenses that provide more than token resistance.

What was the best part of the game?: The Tigers’ defensive generosity over the last 15 minutes or so provided lots of opportunities, but it was still encouraging to see Bama get 39 points off the bench, including 12 from and nine from Petty. Even emerged from witness protection and made his first three shot attempts after not seeing game action since November. The big comeback turned what could have been a rout and a crisis point into a disappointing but understandable setback at the beginning of the conference season marathon.

Who was the star?: Another SEC game, another 10 points from Jones, who is slowly approaching the form that put him on the radar of NBA scouts. He finished with five assists, five rebounds (all on offense), two steals and a block with only one of Alabama’s 15 turnovers.

What’s next?: The Tide needs to take of business at home against struggling Texas A&M. Tipoff from Coleman Coliseum is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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