Remember when Alabama was picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference? Remember when the Crimson Tide started SEC play losing five of its first six games? Remember less than a week ago when Bama fans were thinking how great it could be if Alabama could win one of its next three games – against Texas A&M and at Florida and at LSU?
Coach Avery Johnson’s Tide got a career-high 35 points from Retin Obasohan in Baton Rouge Wednesday night and upset the Fighting Tigers, 76-69. LSU had been tied for the league lead going into the game.
Alabama has now won five consecutive games, three of them on the road, and six of its last seven to improve to 16-9 overall and 7-6 in SEC games. LSU fell to 16-10 and 9-4.
“Unbelievable victory for us tonight on the road against a team that’s obviously been at the top of the SEC,” Johnson said. “A terrific team led by a young man, Ben Simmons, who is tough to cover. But we hung in there and I felt good about where we were at halftime, only being down by five. Our energy wasn’t where it should have been and our concentration, but recently we’ve become a pretty good second-half team. We seem to get better and better as the game wears on. We had great sustainable energy in the second half, focus, attention to detail. Craig Victor got away from us a little bit in the first half so we made some adjustments on him in the second half and did a much better job. Overall, a great team victory.”
The Crimson Tide returns home to Coleman Coliseum Saturday to host Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. CST. Bama defeated the Bulldogs earlier this year in Starkville, 82-80 in overtime, to start this five-game winning streak. The SEC Network will televise Saturday’s game.
Obasohan, who needed 21 points coming into the game to reach the 1,000-point career mark, was the fist player to score 35 points in a game since Trevor Releford did it in a triple-overtime game at LSU in 2013. Obasohan had 23 points in the second half. Obasohan is the 49th player in Alabama history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
Obasohan was good on 11-18 field goals, 2-7 on three-pointers, and made 11-11 free throws. Fellow guards Justin Coleman and Arthur Edwards were also in double figures. Coleman was 5-8 on treys and had 21 points, while Edwards was 4-9 on three-pointers – the only shots he took were from behind the arc – for 12 points.
Those three accounted for 68 of Alabama’s 76 points.
Obasohan also had 3 assists and and steal and no turnovers in his 35 minutes of point-a-minute play. Coleman had 5 assists.
“I was just playing my game,” Obasohan said. “The thing with our team is we have great talent, guard play and bigs, and that makes it hard for teams to matchup. We have wonderful shooters on the perimeter and we have bigs who can finish above the rim. We play off of each other and my teammates opened up creases that I was able to take advantage.”
“Coming into this season, we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” Johnson said. “I’m happy for our team and happy for this young man Retin Obasohan. He looked like one of the best players in the country and he’s definitely one of the most-improved players in college basketball.”
Craig Victor had 21, Ben Simmons 20 (along with 10 rebounds), and Keith Hornsby 18 for LSU.
Alabama finished with 25-54 on field goals, 46.3 per cent, LSU 22-57 for 38.6 per cent. The Tide hit 11-33 three-point tries, 33.3 per cent, the Tigers 5-20 for 25 per cent. LSU went to the free throw line an incredible 35 times, but made only 20 (including Simmons being just 10-19) for 57.1 per cent, while the Tide was good on 15 of its modest 18 chances, 83.3 per cent.
Alabama out-rebounded the Tigers, 39-34, with Riley Norris pulling down a career-best 16 boards for Bama.
Alabama is 10-1 when winning the rebounding battle. Additionally, the Tide is 12-1 when holding its opponent to fewer than 70 points.
Alabama committed 14 turnovers which LSU turned into 19 points, while the Tigers committed just 5 turnovers, good for only 7 Bama points. LSU also outscored Alabama in the paint, 26-20, and on fast break points, 6-0. Alabama did have a 10-8 advantage in second chance points and in bench points – 23-2. Bama’s bench points were 21 by Coleman and 2 by Shannon Hale.
Both teams had leads of as much as 8 points. There were seven ties and four lead changes with Bama taking the lead for good on a three-point basket by Edwards with 3:26 to play.
LSU had a 36-31 halftime lead. Bama evened the score quickly in the second half, but didn’t take the lead until just under 15 minutes when Coleman nailed a three-pointer.