Alabama Basketball Upsets No. 25 LSU, 88-82
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball won its second game against a Top 25 opponent of the season Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum, defeating LSU 88-82.
"It was a big win," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "We've been saying we needed another Quad 1 win and we got it. Thought our energy out of the gate was really good."
Junior wing Herbert Jones, despite playing with only one hand due to a cast that protected his left wrist from further harm, simply overpowered the Tigers with career-high 17 rebounds and six points.
Jones fractured his wrist against LSU back on Jan. 29, a game that Alabama lost 90-76.
Led by the blue-collar effort of Jones, the Crimson Tide was only out rebounded by two for the game, 44-42. After LSU had a 27-19 edge in the first half, Alabama was able to bounce back and have 13 offensive rebounds to maintain possession and keep the Crimson Tide on top.
"I've been trying to get out there as much as I could," Jones said. "I had been sitting for a minute and had been itching to get out there and play with my teammates and then today if my wrist felt better than it did at the Auburn game then they'd let me play as many minutes as I could."
Another key factor was the low turnover number for Alabama. The Crimson Tide had frequently struggled with giving up the ball, particularly in crucial scenarios. On Saturday afternoon, Alabama was able to keep the turnovers to single-digits, registering only nine for the game opposed to LSU's 12.
After trailing 10-7 in the opening minutes, the Crimson Tide put together an early 10-0 run to jump ahead of the Tigers. Later in the half, Alabama would string together an 8-0 run, powered by a layup by Jones that ignited a spark of motivation in the Alabama squad.
He had seven rebounds before the break, all defense. The junior wing also registered two possession-changing blocks that kept LSU from obtaining much momentum.
At the half, the Crimson Tide led the Tigers 40-29.
In the second half, all momentum that Alabama had taken advantage of in the first half was lost. After increasing its lead to 18 points, LSU began to work its way back into the game.
With 4:54 remaining, the Tigers had cut the Crimson Tide lead down to eight points. After junior forward Galin Smith hit his fifth and sixth free throws of the afternoon, LSU was within two.
On the ensuing offensive possession for Alabama, Jones was fouled, resulting in two free throws. Clutching his soft cast that was on his left wrist and in obvious pain, Jones managed to hit both using just his right hand.
Coleman Coliseum may have never heard a louder crowd for two free throws.
"I want to thank the crowd," Oats said. "I mean that was the best crowd I've, you know, heard since I've been here. [It] kind of hit a fever pitch there when Herb stepped up to the free-throw line after they intentionally fouled him knowing he didn't have his strong hand able to shoot [and] steps up with his free hand and goes two-for-two.
"That was unreal."
While LSU was able to draw to within one point, the Tigers were never able to retake take the lead.
Along with Jones' domination on the defensive side, sophomore guard Kira Lewis, Jr. led Alabama in points with 27 while also registering four assists and a rebound. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford wasn't far behind with 26 points of his own, with one rebound and one assist.
Smith was the other Crimson Tide player with double-digit points, notching 10, including six from the free-throw line, along with six rebounds.
For LSU, four players were able to obtain double-digit points. Senior guard Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 24 points and also had nine rebounds. Freshman forward Trendon Watford — who hails from Birmingham, Ala. — finished with 18 points and four rebounds.
Sophomore guard JaVonte Smart also finished with 16 points and two rebounds while sophomore forward Emmitt Williams finished with 13 points, but led the team in rebounds with 10.
The Crimson Tide improved to 14-11 on the season, 6-6 in the SEC. LSU dropped to 18-7 and 9-3 in the conference.
"Big win for us," Oats said. "We've got to use this to kind of get us some momentum rolling here you know here in the last third of conference play."
Alabama faces Texas A&M on Wednesday in Tuscaloosa (6 p.m. CT, SEC Network).