Early Lead Slips Away

The Tigers dropped their ninth straight Southeastern Conference game after Alabama fell down early but stormed back with stingy defense and a better shooting second half.

A hot start and a frigid final three minutes doomed the LSU basketball team.

Heard that before?

In frighteningly familiar fashion, the Tigers (10-16, 2-9) fell 67-56 to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday night in Baton Rouge.

LSU failed to score a point in the final 4:01, a trend that has become an epidemic for the Tigers.

LSU was outscored 6-0 in the final three minutes in Oxford in a six-point loss against Ole Miss. The Tigers failed to score in the final 3:23 against Mississippi State en route to a one-point loss, and they mustered just three points in the final four minutes in a home loss to South Carolina.

“It’s growing pains versus good players, versus good teams,” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “It’s real obvious that we’re not a good team, and we don’t have a lot of good players right now. We have young players that are going to be good players with time. It’s a process.”

LSU sprinted out of the gate and grabbed a 7-0 lead as it took Alabama over five minutes to get on the board.

It was the Tigers biggest lead in the first half, but the Alabama pressure defense forced a number of Tiger turnovers and chipped away at the lead.

Despite the Tigers shooting 56.5 percent in the first half to Alabama’s 46.9 percent, the Tide went in to the locker room with a five point lead due to a nine shot advantage.

Alabama scored 30 points off of 17 LSU turnovers on the night, which was ultimately too much for LSU to overcome.

“With a team like ours, the margin for error is extremely small,” Johnson said. “Against a team like that, the constant pressure tends to wear on you.”

Alabama entered the game eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing opponents a stingy 58.4 points per game.

“Alabama is a good team,” said freshman guard and Alabama native Ralston Turner. “We tried to come out and match their physicality, and for the most part, I think we did. The guys on their team stepped up and made plays. We had guys not making plays down the stretch.”

Turner's 17 points led the Tigers and were the most for the freshman since returning to the lineup on Jan. 29 against the same Crimson Tide.

Malcolm White scored 14 points for the Tigers, but was limited in the second half due to cramps. Fellow junior Garrett Green was the only other Tiger in double figures. He tallied 10 points.

Alabama’s big three of JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford and Tony Mitchell combined for 46 points to pace the Tide.

The road doesn’t get any easier as LSU welcomes its second straight division leader to the PMAC on Sunday when Billy Donovan’s Florida team comes to town.

Tip off is scheduled for noon on Sunday and ESPN will televise the contest.

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