BATON ROUGE -- Sophomore Ross Neltner tipped in a Brandon Bass shot with just tenths of a second remaining to give LSU an amazing 61-59 victory over Alabama (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) Tuesday night before a raucous crowd in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and a national television audience on ESPN.
The Tigers continue to solidify its post-season opportunities raising its record to 16-9 overall and 9-4 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are now 13-1 at home this season and 7-0 in SEC play. Alabama, which could have clinched the SEC Western Division with a win, is now 21-5 and 10-3 in the league. LSU is now one game behind Alabama and 2 1/2 games ahead of Mississippi State.
Alabama trailed 55-48 with 4:56 to play, but a banked 3-pointer by Kennedy Winston with 14 seconds left tied it at 59.
LSU's Brandon Bass dribbled the ball outside the 3-point arc for several seconds and then drove to the basket as the clock wound down. His 17-footer was well defended but on line, but the shot bounced off the rim. Fortunately, Neltner was there for the rebound and the ball was going through the hoop as the red lights lit up around the basket. The officials checked the replay to verify that the tip came before the buzzer and signaled that the shat was indeed good for LSU.
"I think we were all just kind of hectic out there," Neltner said. "Brandon obviously caught it in the corner. I thought his shot was going in. I just ended up in the right place at the right time, and the shot went in and we beat the No. 14 team in the nation. It all happened so fast. All of a sudden the buzzer's going off, the shot's going in and I'm on the ground with my teammates piling on top. But that was just one play in the game. It took 40 minutes of basketball to beat these guys. They're a good team and it's a good win for our program."
LSU has now won an SEC-best 41 home games since the start of the 2002-03 season.
Tack Minor led LSU with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Bass had 15 points, Darrel Mitchell and Glen Davis 11 points. Neltner finished with five points and Davis grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds.
Winston scored 22 points for Alabama, while Jean Felix added 12 and Chuck Davis 10.
Alabama took a 43-39 lead on consecutive three-pointers by Felix. The Tigers then went on a 13-3 run fueled by three-pointers by Minor, Mitchell and Neltner. Davis made two free throws with 4:56 left to give LSU the 55-48 lead. The Tide scored the next six points to pull to 55-54 on a three by Felix with 1:36 to go.
Antonio Hudson and Bass each made one free throw to give LSU a 57-54. A layup by Davis pulled Alabama to 57-56 with 22 seconds remaining and Bass made two more free throws eight seconds later for the 59-56 lead setting up the finish.
"I just want to compliment Alabama's team," said LSU Coach John Brady. "I thought we started the game just exceptionally well. I knew we were ready to play (Monday) in the practice. That's why we cut it -- I didn't want to leave any of our game on the practice floor. We started the game extremely well and couldn't have played better in the first seven or eight minutes."
LSU opened the game with a 15-2 run, but a jumper by Davis (Chuck) brought Alabama into a 28-all tie with two minutes before the half. Bass' layup at the halftime buzzer gave the Tigers a 30-28 lead.
"To Alabama's credit, they have some experienced guys and they haven't won 10 out of 11 games in this league because they crumble under adverse conditions. They played through adversity, and they got their team back right. I thought the key to us was how we defended them. Alabama is averaging 50 percent from the field, 40 plus from the three-point line in league play. They're out rebounding their opponents by 10 or so in league play. To get 46 rebounds to their 27 was really the difference in the game," said Brady. "Then defensively the way we guarded them was the difference in the game."
The Tigers also had a 16-4 advantage on the offensive boards.
LSU goes on the road for its next two games, starting Saturday at 3 p.m. at Auburn (JP Sports). The Tigers play at Ole Miss on March 2 and then close the regular season at home on March 5 against Vanderbilt in a game now set for 3 p.m. and to be televised by JP Sports.