Heart-Breaker For Tide

It is never a surprise when Alabama's basketball team goes on the road and loses by a big margin. Tuesday night the Crimson Tide didn't lose by a wide pointspread, but Bama's loss to LSU was a huge one, putting Alabama championship hopes in jeopardy. The Bengal Tigers got a buzzer-beater tip-in for a 61-59 win over Alabama in Baton Rouge.

Alabama had previously suffered double-digit losses on the road at Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Florida. Against LSU it looked like the Tide might be in for another rout, but the Tide fought back and had the game tied with just seconds to play. A desperation LSU shot missed. But the Tigers had dominated Bama on the boards and the final rebound of the night was the winning tip-in.

Although Alabama continues to lead the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a 10-3 record, LSU is now at 9-4. And the Bengal Tigers have a much easier finish than Bama. The Crimson Tide is now 21-5 overall. LSU is 16-8 overall.

The toughest part of the schedule for Bama is probably straight ahead. Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum Saturday to host Kentucky in a game to be nationally telecast by CBS beginning at 12:30 p.m. CST.

Bama's final three games are against Kentucky, Auburn and at Mississippi State. LSU's final three games are at Auburn, at Ole Miss, and home to Vanderbilt.

Down 13-2 and 18-5 after a red-hot LSU start, Alabama fought back with a 13-3 run to tie the game at 28-28 in final moments of first half. LSU got a basket on the in-bounds with less than a second to play to take the halftime lead, 30-28.

With Jean Felix coming off the bench to hit a couple of key three-point shots, Alabama took a four-point second half lead. But Bama's inability to rebound, along with poor shot selection, doomed the Crimson Tide offense in the late going. And the Bengal Tigers reverted to the good shooting they had exhibited early. LSU eased out to a seven-point lead in the final five minutes.

When Kennedy Winston hit a backboard trey in the final seconds, the Tide seemed to have a chance to at least get the game to overtime. But the uncontested tap-in by Ross Nettler ended Bama hopes of clinching the SEC Western Division championship.

The key statistic was that Alabama was out-rebounded by a 46-27 margin. For Bama it was one-and-done offensively as almost every missed Crimson Tide shot was surrounded by two or three Tigers.

Winston led the Tide with 22 points. Felix had 12 and Chuck Davis 10.

Alabama had defeated LSU by 15 points, 73-58, in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said, "I was really proud of our guys for fighting back. We did everything we needed to do except get a rebound at the end of the game. And we got a lot of open shots we didn't make."

Now, said Gottfried, "We've got to put this one behind us and get ready to play a very good Kentucky team."


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