Despite coming up short against the Alabama Crimson Tide Wednesday night, Coach Will Wade’s Tigers showed tremendous fight, battling back in the second half while down two starters.
With Xavier Pinson still out of the starting lineup and Darius Days leaving the game in the first half with a sprained ankle, the odds were against LSU early.
The offense was out of rhythm all night and just hasn’t been able to get things together with Pinson out of the lineup. The offense looked out of sorts for most of the game and the Crimson Tide lead began to add up.
A bright spot for LSU, as it has been all season, was Tari Eason stepping up in a big way when needed. The glue guy that consistently keeps this team together, Eason had 22 of the Tigers first 44 points and kept them in it when the Tide had the chance to put this game out of reach.
Down by 13 in the second half, LSU needed players to step up and saw their true leaders make plays when needed. It was point guard Eric Gaines who led the charge, knocking down three straight triples that fueled a 14-1 run to tie the game. Getting their shots to fall and putting pressure on Alabama’s ball handlers, the Tigers made things interesting.
Led by Eason and Gaines, LSU fought until the very end to keep things competitive, even when things were looking unlikely. Allowing their defense to turn into offense was a major piece of the late game heroics, forcing Alabama to turn the ball over consistently. The effort of the Tigers was a major takeaway despite coming up short.
"I love our resilience, the fact that we came together," Eason said. "We could've easily went the other way but we came together. I love that about this group. Once we get some other things cleaned up, we're going to be a machine."
The fight of this team on both ends of the floor has been a big piece to this team’s success to this point. Never giving up on a play and letting their defense win them games is what Wade has preached to his squad, knowing some nights their shots just won’t fall. Wednesday night was one of those nights. Unable to get into a rhythm with 19 turnovers and missed shots, they got things together late in the second half to make it a game.
Staying as one and playing until the final buzzer is what will have Wade’s team be so dangerous come March. To keep their composure down virtually every second against the Crimson Tide and never having their confidence waver, it was a learning experience for this young group.
Even with Pinson and Days out, guys on this team stepped up to the plate and showed tremendous fight from start to finish.
"I'm really proud of our guys,” Wade said. “To come in here and battle like this, when we're full strength it's going be tough on opponents. Proud of our effort to fight like that, we're unbreakable. Got great toughness, great connectiveness. That stuff hasn't changed.”
Now the team will face more adversity, as The Advocate reported plane trouble will keep the Tigers from returning to Baton Rouge, instead flying straight to Knoxville for Saturday’s game with Tennessee.