How the Tide Reauxlled the Tigers
The Alabama Crimson Tide beat the LSU Tigers 109-88 Saturday at a raucous Coleman Coliseum. Leading SEC scorer Mark Sears finished with a game-high 21 points. Five other Crimson Tide players finished in double digits. Grant Nelson and Rylan Griffen both had 12, Latrell Wrightsell Jr. had 19, and Aaron Estrada had 18 points.
Compared to Wednesday's victory against rival Auburn, the first half felt very different. This half had a lot more scoring and fewer light failures. The Crimson Tide made five of their first seven shots, while LSU made four of its first eight. Alabama and LSU were both going strong early in the shooting game.
Early in the game, Alabama appeared to have control of the game, as they did last year when the Crimson Tide defeated LSU 106-66. However, this LSU team is far superior to the previous season. The Tigers were keeping the game as close as possible by making the majority of their shots early.
Late in the first half, Alabama increased their lead to eight points. Before halftime, Wrightsell Jr., Sears, and Estrada had scored the final nine points. Wrightsell is now seventh in the SEC in three-point percentage while maintaining a scorching three-point shooting percentage of over 45%. The squad scored more than 100 points for the sixth time this season, despite Sears not making a three-point attempt of the year.
The Crimson Tide dominated in the second half, scoring 59 points. Sears didn't even need to shoot a three-point shot since he was getting all he wanted from the floor.
The Crimson Tide pounded LSU up and down the court, and Mo Dioubate, who played a significant amount of minutes and finished with eight points and four fours from the field, had an impact with his effort and defense, which have improved since the middle of the season.
"He [Dioubate] does a lot for us; he's a great hustle player," Wrightsell Jr. said. "He's young, he's ready to work, he's here every day working out, and he brings a great spirit in."
Alabama's guard pair of Sears, Wrightsell Jr., and Estrada has proven to be among the best in the country. Having three guys who can handle the rock, score, and shoot like they do makes for a very dangerous squad.
"I think anybody that goes on the floor is dangerous," Estrada said. "We got five guys that can shoot, so it's tough for defenses to come and adjust to us."
"We have so many talented guys that we can switch rotations and still be the same," Wrightsell Jr. said. "We can make different rotations for different teams and different lineups."
In the second half, Alabama's defense proved crucial as they dominated the boards and limited LSU to 37% shooting. Estrada led the team in rebounds (6) and was awarded the "Hard Hat" for his efforts during the game. The Hofstra transfer did not have his finest game-scoring performance against Auburn, but he was much better tonight on both ends of the court as he made 4-5 from three-point range.
The Crimson Tide now holds the top spot in the SEC by a half game over Tennessee. Alabama has played excellent home basketball this season and has improved in every area. The Tide will try to carry this momentum on the road as they go to Athens on Wednesday to play a surprising Georgia Bulldogs, and then they will return home on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to play their Highway 82 rivals, the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Alabama Drowns Tigers Once Again in Coleman Coliseum
Gallery Credit: Simon Besnoy