The Alabama basketball team came down to needing to win the final 99 seconds against LSU on Saturday. It didn’t come close.
After a short jump shot by Riley Norris pulled Alabama within a single point of No. 13 LSU with 1:39 to play, the Crimson Tide could not get another shot in a one-possession game, failing to get a stop, then turning the ball over to lead to an LSU dunk with 41 seconds to go, the decisive and derisive play in the Tigers’ 74-69 win at Coleman Coliseum. The loss dropped Alabama to 8-8 in the SEC and 5-3 in league games on its home court with a Tuesday contest against Auburn remaining. The Crimson Tide is 17-12 overall after 29 games for the fifth consecutive season.
“These guys are not quitting,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “They are fighters. Our defense just wasn’t good enough in the second half.”
Alabama had a chance when Norris’ short jumper cut the LSU lead to 64-63, but the Tigers’ Skyler Mays scored off a spin and drive to push the lead back to three points. With a chance to tie on the next possession, Alabama did not get off a shot as an errant cross-court pass by Norris was intercepted by Tremont Waters, who capped the breakaway by throwing the ball off the backboard for a Mays dunk.
“The difference was our ability to get steals, turn them over some,” LSU coach Will Wade. “They gave us some problems with their zone in the first half. It seemed like the basket had on a lid on it, even on free throws. After all that, I was glad we had a lead after the first half.”
“It was a few things that cost us, things we could have improved on,” Alabama guard John Petty said. “Shot selection, rebounding, turnovers.” Alabama started slowly, trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, but had a six-point lead with 11:20 remaining despite an off-night by several players.
Senior Dazon Ingram, who “wasn’t moving great” due to a bruised quad, played 12 minutes and scored one point. Tevin Mack started but did not score in 13 minutes of playing time. Freshman Kira Lewis played all but two minutes but was 3-of-16 from the field and 0-for-4 from the 3-point line.
“LSU committed four guys to (Lewis) sometimes when he was driving,” Johnson said. “They did a good job of pushing him off the 3-point line and making him find the open guy and when he did, a lot of times we couldn’t make the shot.”
Petty led Alabama with 23 points. Mays had 20 and Javonte Smart added 19 for league-leading LSU (23-5, 13-2).
For Alabama, only two regular-season games remain to enhance a possible NCAA resume.
“There’s some urgency, there always is at the end of the year,” Norris said. “We’re going to correct some things in practice and try to get better for Auburn on Tuesday.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.