BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU basketball had a packed house at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday night and brought the energy to match the raucous atmosphere. But the big-game feeling wasn’t enough to fix the Tigers’ offensive struggles in their 74-66 loss to Alabama.
The Tigers (11-5, 2-2 SEC) didn’t struggle to make shots in the second half so much as they struggled to even take them. LSU finished the second half with just 21 field-goal attempts after taking 31 shots in the first half. The Tigers shot 11 field goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
“We had open shots, but we just didn’t take some,” said freshman point guard Tremont Waters. “We’d make an extra pass for no particular reason. We didn’t shoot the ball.”
3 Keys: Why Alabama beat LSU
- Too much size
The Crimson Tide (11-6, 3-2) had the height advantage at most spots on the floor and were able to exploit it on both offense and defense. Alabama completely dominated the boards, outrebounding LSU 40-24.
“They just outplayed us on the interior,” LSU center Duop Reath said. “We could have been more physical and boxed our men out a little better.”
It was a similar mismatch in the paint, where Alabama outscored LSU 36-24.
“They physically punished us,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “They wrecked us on the glass. If we don’t get that improved, it will be even worse against Georgia on Tuesday.”
- Deeper bench
LSU struggled to find scoring outside of its starting five, while Alabama was able to go nine deep on its roster. The Crimson Tide bench outscored LSU’s 28-11.
- The drought
When Tremont Waters drilled a 3-pointer while getting fouled with 11:05 left to cut the deficit to 51-43, it looked like the Tigers were poised to make a run. Instead, he missed the potential 4-point play opportunity at the free throw line and the LSU offense went to sleep. LSU did not make another field goal until a Skylar Mays steal led to a fast-break layup with 5:36 left to play.
Will Wade explains his meltdown
Wade picked up a costly technical foul right after Tremont Waters drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Alabama lead to 66-61 with 1:10 remaining in the game. Wade was still steamed about a kicked ball call against Waters on a near-steal 40 seconds earlier.
By rule, the call appeared to be correct. According to Section 7 of the NCAA rule book, “Kicking the ball is striking it intentionally with any part of the leg or the foot. Accidentally striking the ball with the foot or leg shall not be a violation.”
Wade obviously believed that Waters struck the ball with his shin accidentally. Wade appeared to make contact with the official that he was arguing with, which will likely be reviewed by the SEC office.
“If I touched him, it wasn’t intentional,” Wade said. “I don’t know if I touched him or not. I was just trying to call timeout and get the guys in the huddle. I thought maybe there was a missed call beforehand that I was talking about. I was not trying to touch him, bump him or anything like that if that did happen.”
Waters threw his arms up in frustration when he saw Wade pick up the technical. LSU’s first-year head coach admitted he has to maintain his composure better in the future.
“I won’t get into specifics but there was two plays [I was upset about],” Wade said. “I’ve got to do a better job with that. The problem is I was frustrated because we didn’t fight like we needed to fight. We weren’t as tough as we needed to be. I’m so competitive and want to win, and sometimes you want it too much.”
LSU-Alabama box score
What’s next for LSU basketball?
The Tigers host Georgia (11-5, 2-3 SEC) at the PMAC at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday night.