BATON ROUGE, La. — The Alabama basketball team made rebounding a point of emphasis in preparation for Wednesday night’s game at LSU.
The Tigers paid no attention.
No. 22 LSU, one of the nation’s top 10 offensive rebounding teams, dominated Alabama on the backboards and combined offensive efficiency with an 18-rebound advantage on the boards to take a 90-76 home win over the Crimson Tide.
Alabama trailed by 18 points at the half and could only reduce the LSU lead to single digits on a couple of brief occasions in the second half.
“That’s two games in a row that we haven’t played hard enough out of the gate,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We’ve got to get that fixed. And the rebounding issues caused us major problems again.
“Once we started playing hard in the second half, we were better but we had dug too deep a hole.
Despite some early struggles with rebounding and foul shooting, Alabama was within four points, 29-25, with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Emmitt Williams and Trendon Watford powered a 14-0 run for LSU over the next three minutes and led by as many as 21 points before finishing with a 51-33 lead at intermission.
The 51 points in the half were the most allowed by UA since Iowa State scored 53 points in the second half of a 104-89 Cyclone win in the Bahamas last November.
“I thought we did a magnificent job in the first half,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “It was methodical. We did a great job of recognizing when to push the ball, when to stay back and attack. We had grit and determination.”
Alabama came within nine points twice in the second half, cutting the lead to 62-53 on a Jalen Forbes 3-pointer with 13:12 to play. But two unforced Alabama turnovers led to a 6-0 LSU run, pushing the lead back to 15 points in just over a minute.
The Crimson Tide played without reserve guard Beetle Bolden because of what Oats described as a gastrointestinal issue. Junior guard John Petty did not start for the first time in 20 games this season although he played 33 minutes.
“We tried to make a statement,” Oats said. “It backfired.
“We need to get our leaders to lead. We haven’t been practicing hard enough, in my opinion.”
Freshman Jaden Shackelford scored 21 points to lead Alabama (12-8, 4-3 SEC).
All five LSU starters scored in double figures, led by Williams with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Watford also had a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Alabama will return home Saturday to face Arkansas.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt