Bama erupts in second half, blows open tight game and whips LSU, 109-88

Freshman guard Mike Williams III led LSU with 16 points as the Tigers played 20 strong minutes against league-leading Alabama before the Crimson Tide took over in the second half. PHOTO By LSU Athletics

LSU hung tight with Alabama for 20 minutes on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa at Coleman Coliseum, but that wasn’t nearly enough.

The Crimson Tide washed away the Tigers in the second half, blowing open a six-point game at halftime to win their 13th straight SEC home game, 109-88.

Alabama (14-6, 6-1 SEC). literally unleashed an offensive blitzkrieg in the second half, hitting 10 of 11 field goals inside the first 10 seconds of the shot clock during the first 13 minutes of the half, including four straight 3-pointers.

LSU (11-9, 3-4 SEC) simply could not hold on as the Tigers lost their third straight conference game and fell below .500 in the SEC for the first time this season.

Alabama’s Mark Sears led all scorers with 21 points and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. hit five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points.

Aaron Estrada added 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Alabama. Rylan Griffen and Grant Nelson scored 12 apiece.

Mike Williams III led LSU with 16 points while Derek Fountain added 14 and Will Baker scored 12. Jalen Cook scored 11 and Jordan Wright 10.

“First 17 minutes especially, I thought both teams played at a really, really high level on the offensive side of the ball there were very few turnovers, and it was a tight game there,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said.

“I thought in the last three minutes (at the end of the first half) we had three turnovers that I thought hurt us.

“But with all that said, you know, you go in, you’re down six at a half. We were able to finish some plays at the rim. We got to the free to line. Wish we could have converted at a higher rate in the first half at the free to line.

“But then there, in the second half, I thought for a big stretch, we weren’t able to get to the rim and finish plays. They blocked some of those balls up the court. And now you’re in the transition game. I know they scored too many points in the first half, but they only have five in transition. A lot of them are just good half court execution. But then in the second half, they got those stops. We took some quick shots that I thought really hurt us and fueled their transition game. And, they have that ability, as we just saw, to put up a lot of points in a hurry,” McMahon said.

The Crimson Tide, who beat No. 8 Auburn 79-75 last time out, have won eight of their last nine games, with the one loss coming at No. 5 Tennessee last Saturday.

Wrightsell hit a 3-pointer that made it 35-32 with 6:12 left in the first half and Alabama led the rest of the way. Fountain threw down a dunk to make it 50-44 at halftime and Jalen Reed’s layup about two minutes into the second half trimmed the deficit to four.

Estrada and Wrightsell each scored five points in a 12-5 spurt over the next three minutes and Griffen hit two 3s in a 15-4 run that made it 79-61 with 10 minutes left.

Alabama shot 56% from the field for the game, 61% in the second half, made 14 3-pointers and shot 89% (25 of 28) from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, LSU’s biggest deficiencies were missed layups and missed free throws. The Tigers converted only 11 of 28 layups while going 17-for-27 from the free throw line while Alabama made 16 of 20 of its layup attempts.

Alabama topped the 100-point plateau for the sixth time this season, which leads the nation. LSU has a week off before it plays host to Arkansas next Saturday.

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Todd Horne

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