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Turnovers, Rebounding Contribute to LSU's 70-67 Loss to Alabama

Tigers suffer second straight conference loss, must clean up self inflicted wounds to get back on track

LSU's recent struggles continued to haunt it as the Tigers hit the road and dropped a second straight conference game to Alabama 70-67.

The loss makes it five straight Will Wade and company have lost to the Crimson Tide and the first losing streak of the 2021 season. 

A couple of areas Wade wanted to put a focus on heading into this game were defensive rebounding and turnovers. Both areas affected the Tigers in a negative way in the first half, with LSU allowing Alabama to grab eight offensive rebounds that led to 11 second chance points.

That number would balloon to 19 total offensive rebounds for the game and 15 second chance points as well. As for the turnovers, the goal Will Wade has for this group is anywhere in the 10-12 range for a game, something the group has worked hard on over the last few days. 

LSU entered Wednesday's contest averaging 16 turnovers a game in SEC play and committed 20 more against Alabama that resulted in 21 points. Between the defensive rebounding and turnovers, the Crimson Tide were able to score 36 total points off of LSU mistakes, not necessarily a winning formula.

While Wade says there's plenty to clean up, he was proud of the effort LSU gave in the face of more adversity.

"I'm really proud of our guys. To come in here and battle like this, when we're full strength it's gonna be tough on opponents," Wade said. "Proud of our effort to fight like that, we're unbreakable. Got great toughness, great connectiveness. That stuff hasn't changed.

One player who did his best to keep the Tigers afloat early was sophomore transfer Tari Eason. He was aggressive in attacking the rim early and scored 13 of his 26 total points in the first half to get LSU within one point at the break, headlined by a four point play with under one second to go.

Eason's play was much needed with guard Xavier Pinson unavailable for a third straight game and forward Darius Days going down in the first half with a turned ankle. With 10 minutes to go, Eason had 22 of LSU's 44 points. 

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LSU's woes continued to be playing too fast at times and not mixing up the flow of the game in the half court, leading to tough looks that weren't falling. The team did earn some second chance looks on the offensive glass but the rhythm on offense completely flamed out, resulting in either Eason isolation moves or complete chaos.

Without Days for the second half, LSU needed to protect the ball and value its offensive possessions even more. The Tigers were forced to play lineups rarely used this season and it showed with some of the offensive and defensive rotations.

Getting down by as many as 13 points in the second half, a technical on Wade really seemed to spark the team and elevate the offensive play down the stretch.

Highlighted by a 14-1 run in just over two minutes with four straight threes by Eric Gaines and Brandon Murray, LSU was able to make it a game, tying it at 68 at one point. The Crimson Tide missed free throws, shots and turned the ball over, giving the Tigers every opportunity to steal the game. 

"I love our resilience, the fact that we came together," Eason said. "We could've easily went the the other way but we came together. I love that about this group. Once we get some other things cleaned up, we're gonna be a machine."

Alabama would also win the foul game, knocking in 21 free throws to LSU 15 total attempts, another glaring disparity the Tigers have been hit with in SEC play.

"I told our guys I got the technical because I gotta have their back," Wade said. "We can't keep having this happen. I had their back and they had my back to come back fighting like that. I gotta stand up for them, can't keep taking it."

But rebounding and turnovers played a role in Alabama ultimately regaining its composure and pulling away. As a result, Alabama guards Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford would combine for 45 points and the Crimson Tide really attacked LSU's defense in the paint.

LSU simply must get its turnovers and rebounding under control walking into another hostile environment at Tennessee in a few days. 

"It's growing pains right now but when we're back fully healthy, we'll be a tough out," Wade said.