Tide Lets One Get Away

The Alabama basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried had an excellent chance to get a Southeastern Conference road victory, but instead the Crimson Tide continued its history of being unable to get it done away from Coleman Coliseum. Bama had a 12-point lead with under six-and-a-half minutes to play and a two-point lead with under a minute, but fell to LSU in Baton Rouge by a 70-66 margin.

Alabama is now 8-4 on the season and the LSU game was Bama's first in SEC play. LSU improved to 11-1 and 2-0 in league games. Alabama will play its next two SEC games in Tuscaloosa. Bama will host Arkansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday and entertain Auburn next Saturday.

Alabama led most of the game, but LSU had runs at the end of each half. In the first half, Bama had as much as a seven-point lead but trailed by a point, 30-29, at intermission as the Tigers hit a long three-pointer at the buzzer.

In the second half, Alabama took the lead at 38-36 and built it to 12 points at 57-45. After LSU cut the lead to 57-50, the Tide's Chuck Davis hit a short jumper, was fouled, and made the free throw for a 60-50 lead with 5:17 to play. LSU then scored 12 unanswered points to take the lead at 62-60.

Bama righted the ship temporarily with Earnest Shelton making a couple of free throws and then Kennedy Winston drained a long jump shot to give Bama its last lead at 64-62 with 1:05 to play.

Bama played much of the game in a zone defense and was very effective, but the zone failed to stop a three-pointer by LSU that gave the Tigers the lead at 65-64 in the final minute. Bama then had back-to-back turnovers and LSU spent enough time at the free throw line to ice the game.

It is not unusual for SEC teams to have an advantage in foul shots when at home, but what happened in Baton Rouge was too much for visiting Alabama to overcome. The Tigers shot 36 foul shots (making only 23), while Alabama was good on six-of-nine -- 27 fewer opportunities.

Alabama did not shoot well from three-point range in the first half, but finished with respectable 33 per cent three-point shooting. And Bama shot 48 per cent from the field compared to LSU only 40 per cent. Alabama made nine more field goals than LSU, 28-19.

In something of a surprise, Alabama had a slight edge in rebounding, 34-32.

Chuck Davis and Kennedy Winston led the Tide in scoring with 13 points each, while Emmett Thomas came off the bench to score 11 and Earnest Shelton had 10. Winston had 10 of his points in the second half. "I've very proud of our guys," said Gottfried. "Effort was phenomenal. Mistakes in the final minutes killed us, and that's my fault. We coaches have to do a better job of having them ready. We made some bad decisions late in the game. But we have to learn from this. It's hard to play that way for 40 minutes and walk out with a loss. For the most part we executed very well. We played well enough to win the game in almost every phase except for mental errors down the stretch." Gottfried said, "We're going to go back and work as hard as we can. Our guys have great, great, great character. They'll rebound and pick themselves back up. But what we have to do is if we find ourselves in a similar situation, we have to do better. And that's our job as coaches."

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