Good shots, poor results for LSU against Alabama

LSU coach John Brady had high praise for his defense and couldn't find anything bad to say about his offense follow Saturday night's game against No. 7 Alabama. Unfortunately for his offense, they couldn't find the bottom of the basket in a 57-48 loss to the Crimson Tide at the Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers shot 34 percent on the night while holding Alabama to 36 percent shooting. The win gave Alabama a sweep of the series with LSU this season and improved its record to 19-3, 7-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Tigers, who dropped to 12-9 (2-6 SEC).

Just like against Tennessee, the Tigers were stingy against their opponent but could not convert the opportunities into points. The Volunteers came to Baton Rouge on Jan. 31 averaging 80 points a game and scored 61, while Alabama, after totaling 109 against Arkansas last Wednesday, dipped 24 points below its game average.

"The biggest thing with us right now is we're having a hard time scoring the ball," said Brady. "The question I ask as a coach is: 'Are we taking good shots (or) poor shots?' In evaluating the Tennessee game…I didn't think our shots were poor. Tonight, outside of three or four shots that you take in the course of a game that are bad, I didn't really have a lot of complaints about the shots we took…"

The bulk of LSU's missed shots came from the perimeter against a man-to-man Alabama defense that sagged to prevent penetration. Ronald Dupree led LSU with 19 points and 14 rebounds but was 7-of-19 from the field, including 0-for-5 on three-pointers. Most of his jump shots were from long range, and he didn't start to attack the basket until late in the game.

Collis Temple provided 12 points for the Tigers on 4-of-12 shooting. His line drive shots from the outside stem from not being able to elevate off his injured foot.

"Bad shooting, good defense –can't win the game like that," lamented Temple. "It's getting to sound like a broken record. We've just got to keep on playing hard and playing good defense, because we're getting good shots. We're just not making them."

Offsetting Alabama's poor shooting was a strong night of rebounding, as the Crimson Tide came away with 47 boards to 29 for LSU. Although LSU's numerous missed shots produced a wealth of rebound opportunities, Alabama also did well off the glass on its own end and converted many second-chance baskets.

Although Dupree made seven rebounds on each end of the court, Brad Bridgewater failed to record a single board for the third time in SEC play.

Erwin Dudley led the visitors with 16 rebounds, helping him post 12 points in the game. Kenny Walker was the Tide's leading scorer with 13 points, and he got nine of those at the free throw line after being fouled close to the basket. He converted 9 of 12 foul shots to help Alabama finish 19-of-23 in that department.

LSU was woeful on its free throws, hitting 7-of-15 and missing the front end of two one-and-one situations. The Tigers also failed to convert two three-point play chances in the game.

"(LSU) missed a lot of shots and that hurt them," said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. "We shot pretty well from the line. I said at the beginning of the season I felt like we could be the best free throw shooting team in the league."

Free throws allowed Alabama to distance itself from LSU in the late going after the Tigers moved to within five points with 1:31 left to play. Dupree put back the third missed shot of the Tigers' possession to make the score 51-46.

The Tide almost turned the ball over on their ensuing possession but caught a break when LSU's Antonio Hudson was called for a reach-in during a scramble for the loose ball. Antoine Pettaway sank both of his free throws and provided four more from the line down the stretch while the Tigers failed to convert their three-point chances in the final minute.

The Tigers led on just two instances in the first half, the last coming when Bridgewater fed Temple underneath the basket to put LSU ahead 6-5 at the 15:23 mark. Dupree tied the score at 10-10 with 11:32 left before the half when he tapped in a missed Hudson three-pointer that Thomas Davis had kept alive near the goal.

But this would be the last field goal for LSU over the next 6:42. The Tigers turned the ball over on their next four possessions, missed their next four shots along with botching a pair of free throws. Bridgewater finally ended the funk with a basket from under the goal to make the score 21-12.

The Tigers got to within six points, 25-19, when Torris Bright connected on a three-pointer off a Dupree screen with 1:23 on the clock. Alabama took a ten-point lead into intermission thanks four unanswered points - a Rod Grizzard driving layup and Dudley's tip-in basket just before the buzzer.

"We expect to win games at out place when we hold this type of teams to this few points," said Temple. "But we can't win scoring 19 points in a half."

The biggest lead in the game for Alabama was 14 points, occurring three times in the second half. The last instance came when Terrance Meade sank two free throws with 3:18 to go to make the score 50-36.

A 10-1 run put LSU back in contention with 91 seconds to play, but Alabama had the answers on the foul line to preserve the victory.

"You are always happy when you win, but I'm not happy with the way we played," said Gottfried. "We didn't play very well. It was nice to find a way to win on the road again, which is something we haven't done.

Road wins have come easier for the Crimson Tide in 2002 though. They improved to 3-1 away from home in the SEC with the triumph over LSU.  

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