BATON ROUGE, La. | Freshman Week continued for Alabama on Saturday night — with a big assist from Dazon Ingram and technical support from LSU coach Will Wade.
Playing without starting center Donta Hall, Alabama played with five freshmen on the floor at times and upended LSU 74-66, giving the Crimson Tide its first road win of the season.
Alabama had a 15-point lead, 58-43, with 7:31 remaining, then held off a frenetic rally by the Tigers. That comeback was scuttled when Wade, immediately after a Tremont Waters 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining, drew a technical foul for a lengthy harangue and apparent contact with the referee. Collin Sexton made both free throws to push the lead back to seven points and Alabama hit six more foul shots in the final 20 seconds to take the victory.
“We were pretty much in control but they hit a couple of shots, we didn’t take care of the ball and it got a little crazy,” said Alabama coach Avery Johnson. “I’m really proud of our effort and our attention to detail, though, in a very tough environment.”
Hall, who is expected to miss at least 10 days after a surgical procedure to stabilize a hairline fracture of the wrist that he suffered in the Crimson Tide’s win over South Carolina last Tuesday.
Despite yet another change in playing rotation necessitated by Hall’s injury and a slow shooting start by Sexton, who made just one of his eight first-half shots, the Crimson Tide held its own, blanking LSU over the final 3:20 of the half and taking a 32-30 lead at intermission.
UA then came out strong in the second half to build its lead to as many as 15 points before the frenzied finale.
Ingram, back in the starting lineup after a bout with the flu, led Alabama with a double-double, scoring 18 point and grabbing 10 rebounds, part of Alabama’s 40-24 domination on the boards.
“Coach Avery preached that our guards had to rebound,” Ingram said. “That’s something we want our team to be known for.”
Sexton added 15 points, although he had nine turnovers against a Tiger defense geared to defend him physically all night.
Alex Reese had nine points off the bench and Galen Smith added eight in what Johnson called “a great effort by our freshmen.”
“It was all part of leadership,” Johnson added. “Better leadership means better results.”
Waters led LSU (11-5, 2-2 SEC) with 19 points.
Alabama (11-6, 3-2 SEC) returns home Wednesday to face SEC-leading Auburn.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.