Any chance of Alabama’s defense making LSU basketball star Ben Simmons another Leonard Fournette-type victim wasn’t to be. Simmons, a 6-10 freshman who is expected to be the top choice in the NBA draft, did plenty of damage, but it was a knocked around rebound that went in for LSU with 33 seconds to play that proved to be the winner as the Tigers defeated Alabama, 72-70, in Coleman Coliseum Saturday.
Alabama did not trail in the second half until the last 1:15 and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead at the end, but Retin Obasohan’s short jumper came off the rim. Obasohan had done a good job in getting a jump ball with 17 seconds left after his first shot to tie missed. It was Alabama’s ball with one final chance that didn’t go.
Alabama fell to 10-8 overall and 1-5 in Southeastern Conference play, while LSU improved to 12-7 overall, 5-2 in conference play.
Ben Simmons, who is to LSU basketball what Leonard Fournette is to the Tigers’ football team, had a very solid game with 23 points and 8 rebounds, but he was not a one-man team. Three other Tigers, including back-up man Tim Quarterman who had the winning putback, were in double figures with Keith Hornsby getting 12, Quarterman 11, and Antonio Blakeney adding 10.
Fournette, of course, did not fare so well in a critical football game against Alabama last fall.
Obasohan led Alabama in scoring with 20 while Arthur Edwards had 17 and Riley Norris had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
It was a full house Saturday, attendance of 15,383. Alabama stays home for its next game as the Tide hosts Tennessee at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Bama took the lead in the last two minutes of the first half and held a 41-36 lead at halftime. There were four ties through the second half, but Alabama was able to score at key times. When Obasohan made a long desperation three-pointer with 3:25 to play to give theTide a 69-66 lead, it was Bama’s last field goal. the Tide didn’t surrender the lead until Quarterman hit a pair of free throws with 1:15 to play to give the Tigers a 70-69 lead.
Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said, “I was really proud of our guys. We’ve won our share of close games this year. We just didn’t win this one. There is no surrendering in us and we’ll be back to work. We’ll win some of these games.
“This was a tough game and you saw a good University of Alabama team.”
Although Johnson joked it would be fine with him if Simmons declared for the NBA draft before Alabama returns the game to LSU on Feb. 17, he also said, “We did a pretty good job on him.”
Alabama made only 41.4 per cent of its field goals (24-58), while LSU made 29-59 for 49.2 per cent. The Tide hit 10-25 on three-point shots (40 per cent), while LSU was also 40 per cent but only 4-10. As has been the case in several games this year, Bama’s poor free throw shooting – 12-19 for 63.2 per cent, while LSU made 10-14 (71.4 per cent).
LSU had a 39-34 advantage in rebounding. Jimmie Taylor had four blocked shots as Bama had seven. LSU did not block a Tide shot.
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The Tigers outscored Alabama 40-24 in the paint and 10-2 on fast break points, while Alabama had an 18-14 advantage on points off turnovers and 18-15 on second chance points.