Road Show Continues To Come Up Short

To the surprise of no one, Alabama went on the road in a Southeastern Conference basketball game Wednesday, played fairly well, and lost. The Crimson Tide had a nice lead at times, but LSU was too good on free shots and blocking shots. The Tigers didn't lead many minutes in the game, but had their biggest lead at the end, 80-74.Thus, Alabama goes to 0-8 in SEC road games on the season.

Alabama had as much as a nine-point lead in the first half and a seven point lead at intermission, but LSU scored the final six points of the game and outscored the Tide 19-8 in the final eight minutes of the game.

Alabama fell to 15-15 on the year and Bama is 4-11 in SEC play. LSU improved to 13-16 overall and 6-9 in conference play. The Tide had defeated LSU 81-72 in Tuscalosa earlier this year. The Tigers' head coach then was John Brady, who was fired shortly thereafter. Butch Pierre, an interim coach, led the Tigers to the win over Bama Wednesday night.

Crimson Tide Coach Mark Gottfried called LSU "a talented team."

Alabama will close out regular season play at 1 p.m. CST Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Vanderbilt in Coleman Coliseum. It is senior day and the Tide's four senior players, Mykal Riley and walk-ons John Dill, Greg Cage and Kyle Sellers, and senior manager Heather Mesalam will be honored in pre-game ceremonies beginning about 12:40 p.m.

Alabama had as much as a nine-point lead in the final seconds of the first half. After turning the ball over just before intermission and not getting a final shot, Bama still had a nice 44-37 halftime lead.

LSU made a run on the Tide early in the first half, but with 11 and a half minutes to play Bama had a seven-point lead at 58-51. LSU cut that to just two points within a minute and a half, but Alabama still kept the lead until nearly the five-minute mark.

Alabama had only eight turnovers in the game, but one came with the Tide nursing a 68-66 lead. Marcus Thornton picked off a Tide pass and went the length of the court for a basket to tie the game. Moments later Anthony Randolph was open for a layup and LSU had its first lead since midway through the first half.

From there it was all downhill. Alabama shot only two free throws in the second half, Richard Hendrix getting the opportunity with 56 seconds to play in the game. Hendrix is a terrible free throw shooter and made only one, which tied the game at 74.

Twenty seconds later Thornton hit a three-pointer. The game played out with Bama missing shots and LSU hitting free throws.

Free throws were huge in the game. Alabama's one-of-two statistic in the second half gave Bama 11-17 for the game. LSU made 14 of 15 foul shots in the second half and 19 of 21 for the game.

There were statistics that were notable. Alabama out-rebounded LSU by 42-25 as the Tide had 20 offensive rebounds. But that was offset in part by LSU having an incredible 14 blocked shots (to two for Alabama). Both teams handled the ball relatively well with the Tide having eight turnovers and LSU seven.

Alabama scored more points from the field as Bama was good on 29 of 68 field goals (42.6 per cent), including 5-15 on three-pointers (33 per cent) for 63 points. LSU made 27 of 51 field goals (53 per cent), including 7-17 on treys (41 per cent) for 61 points.

Richard Hendrix was in foul trouble much of the second half and played only 27 minutes. He had a nice game, 16 points and 13 rebounds. Demetrius Jemison continued his good play of the past couple of weeks with 14 points and eight rebounds. Senario Hillman came off the bench to get 12 points and Alonzo Gee had 10 points and seven rebounds.

For LSU, Randolph had 29 points and five blocked shots, Thornton 27 points, and Chris Johnson 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Gottfried acknowledged that he was repeating a familiar refrain. "I'm extremely proud of my guys," he said. "We did so many things well. Their kid (Thornton) makes an unbelievably tough shot. We've had one of those years where those things for the other team always go in. I feel bad for our players because they are giving so much."

While it's a year when everything goes right for the opponent, Gottfried said, Bama is not able to make the play it needs to make at the right time. "It's just a play here or play there," Gottfried said. "It's nothing major.

"We did a lot of things well. We didn't play perfectly,k but we played hard. We played our hearts out."

Speaking of heart, Gottfried said, I just know in my heart something good is going to happen for our guys."

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