LSU Basketball Falls to No. 16 Alabama, 109-92
Will Baker scored a team-high 24 points for the Tigers.
BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team hung with No. 16 Alabama for 32 minutes before the Crimson Tide posted a 33-17 run to walk out of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Saturday afternoon with a 109-92 victory.
The Tigers fall to 12-11 and 4-6 in the Southeastern Conference, while Alabama remained in first place in the league at 17-7 and 9-2 overall.
LSU and Alabama scored almost similar numbers in both meetings this year with Alabama winning, 109-88 in Tuscaloosa and 109-92 on Saturday.
The two teams came out both scoring strongly as Will Baker scored nine of LSU’s first 16 points as the Tigers led at the first media timeout at the 14:00 minute mark at 18-17.
The teams traded the lead back and forth with 15 lead changes in the first 12:04 of the contest that saw Alabama up, 34-30, at that point. Alabama pushed the lead to double figures at 47-37 with 4:14 to go in the opening half but buckets by Tyrell Ward and Jalen Reed and a three-pointer by Mike Williams got the Alabama lead down to three, 47-44, and the teams went to the dressing room with Alabama up, 49-46.
The Tigers shot 59.4 percent in the opening half (19-of-32) and 4-of-8 from distance, but Alabama was shooting at will from all over, making 9-of-23 three-pointers and 17-of-39 overall.
Alabama had a 12-point advantage, 64-52, with 14:38 to play but LSU put another second half run together of 19-7 and tied the game on a Hunter Dean bucket at 71-71 with 10:14 to play.
The Crimson Tide made a free throw to get the lead back but Jalen Cook hit a mid-range jumper to give LSU the lead at 73-72. Alabama missed a three, but got the offensive board and an ensuing fouling and two free throws gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good at 74-73 with 9:06 to play.
From there, the Tigers got only two points on two Jordan Wright free throws while Alabama was scoring 11 to get it back to double digits on a three-pointer off an LSU turnover, 85-75.
In the second half, Alabama would make 9-of-21 three-pointers and 21-of-42 overall to put the game away. LSU would shoot 50 percent on its own in the half (14-of-28) but just 3-of-11 from deep.
For the game, LSU would shoot 55 percent (33-of-60) but 7-of-19 (36.8%) from distance and make 19-of-26 free throws. Alabama, which would attempt more three pointers than two pointers, finished with 38-of-81 field goals (46.9%) and 18-of-44 from deep (40.9%). The Tide was an efficient 15-of-17 from the free throw line.
Alabama won the rebound battle, 43-31, and more importantly 19-6 on the offensive end which resulted in a 28-8 advantage in second chance points. LSU took advantage of 12 LSU turnovers to get a 23-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
Baker finished with 24 points for the Tigers (9-of-14 overall), 2-of-4 from distance, while Jalen Cook had 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Trae Hannibal, saddled with foul trouble had six assists in just 11 minutes of playing time.
Mark Sears led Alabama with 23 points with five assists and eight rebounds, while Latrell Wrightsell had 21 points (6 treys) and four assists. Nick Pringle had 17 points, Rylan Griffen had 16 points and six assists, while Aaron Estrada had 15 points and seven assists.
The Tigers travel to Gainesvi-lle on Monday and will play at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday against the University of Florida. The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network and televised on the SEC Network.
LSU v. Alabama
February 10, 2024
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“Congratulations to Alabama, they have a really good basketball team. They played the right way, really moved the ball and shared offensively. I thought we played really well for 32 minutes. We followed the plan of attack offensively. It was a big stretch overall. I will talk about the threes, I know they (Alabama) made 18 and took a lot. When I look at the box and the difference in the game, the 19 offensive rebounds lead to 28 points. Those 50/50 plays, obviously a lot of long rebounds on threes that they made and turned them into points. They really punished us on the turnovers. We had 12 and they turned those 12 turnovers into 23 points. Credit to them, they really shared the ball well. We were not able to turn them over at all. Those last eight minutes just took off and left us.”
On limiting Alabama’s offense…
“I am not trying to oversimplify the game, but at the end of the day, when you pull the box, because of offensive rebounding and turnovers, they shot 81 balls in the game, we only shot 60. So, hard to win when that is the case. I thought for the most part the first 32 minutes, playing smart and moving the ball offensively enabled us to have a better opportunity to defend them in transition. I think we had an open three when we were down 76-75, we missed it, they (Alabama) got a dunk, and then I believe they hit five threes on their next possessions. Some of it was tough shots, which put us at a disadvantage in transition. They make you pay, they made 38 baskets tonight, 25 of them were assisted. They scored 109, we scored 92. Some of our poor offense in the second half, turnovers, helped fuel those threes they were able to get.”
On whether or not he saw improved defense…
“Well, I thought in the first half, I think they shot 43% from the field. We did a much better job defending their two-point shots in the first half, but they hit nine three’s and then we fouled a three-point shooter, so essentially, 10 made three’s. So, you go in at the half, I think we missed two free throws. It could’ve been 49-48. The numbers just didn’t add up. We were dominating the paint; we were getting layup after layup, but they were getting three’s. So, we come out to start the second half, I thought on our defensive end, we were much better. I think they started the second half three-of-12 from behind the three-point line. I thought we were really contesting, forcing some tougher shots. We didn’t capitalize by securing the defensive rebound on all of those, and they made us pay for that on second opportunities. Then, I do think they did a nice job adjusting. They changed the matchup on (Will) Baker in the post, they swarmed him when he put the ball on the floor, and we were unable to make the right plays some there on offense in the second half.”
LSU Forward Will Baker
On the importance of starting the game well …
“It was important. My teammates found me by the end of the day. They (Alabama) scored 109 points, so our problems are defense. We can focus on offense all we want, but all our defensive problems are what is going to hold us back.”
On playing against a team that moves that fast …
“Credit to them, they are the top offensive team in the country, they have shooters and they move the ball well.”
On the adjustments Alabama made in the second half …
“I think they made some adjustments. They knew I might drive, so they dug at the ball more. I don’t know how many times they tried to double team, but they definitely made some adjustments.”
Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats
“It’s a big road win that we needed to get if we’re going to stay in the hunt to win the league. I thought LSU came ready to go. We had no answer for (Will) Baker in the first half, then they made the run – went up one or two there in the second half with just under 10 to go if I remember right. The way we played, we had a barrage of three’s open it up and that was kind of it. I thought LSU did a really good job being ready to go on their offensive end, kind of attacking some weaknesses on us. I thought we made some decent adjustments; a guard started helping our bigs a little bit more on Baker, turning him over a little bit more. We ended up with 23 points off turnovers; we thought we needed to try to turn them over a little more. We only got 12 turnovers, but we were able to score on most of them. Then, I thought the job Nick Pringle did in the second half was really good on Baker and then our guards rebounded it. We ended up outrebounding them by 12, which we knew we needed to do playing a small lineup.
“To kind of go down the rebounding deal, Trelly (Latrell Wrightsell Jr.) ended up with 10 and a double-double for the first time this year, he’s been close. He played great; he shot 6-of-9 from three. We keep trying to tell him, ‘You can’t turn down open threes.’ He shoots it way too well to turn – I still think he turned some open ones down today, but he was great. He had 10 rebounds, (Mark) Sears had eight rebounds. I thought Sears played a great game. He ended up with five assists, two turnovers; Rylan (Griffen) six assists, zero turnovers. Trelly had four assists, zero turnovers. (Aaron) Estrada seven assists, one turnover. So, you add that up and that’s 22 assists to three turnovers. That’s pretty impressive from those four guards that started. So, we’ve been on these guys about rebounding, turnovers, defensive intensity. We’ve got to get our front court to guard a little bit better, but I thought our back court was pretty good on everything we’ve been on them about. It was big to get a win. LSU is a markedly improved team; they blew out Arkansas at home recently. They play a lot better at home; we haven’t played great on the road, so I thought to be able to kind of blow this thing open at the end was big on a number of fronts.”