TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The LSU men’s basketball team nearly completed a 19-point road comeback during the second half as the Tigers battled Alabama to an 82-80 decision Saturday at Coleman Coliseum.
Anthony Hickey drove coast-to-coast in the final 4.4 seconds, but his attempt at a game-tying runner from 10-feet was blocked as time expired.
The Tigers (12-6, 3-3 SEC) amassed 57 points in the second half, but Alabama (9-10, 3-3 SEC) was able to hold on for its 26th win in its last 28 SEC home decisions dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Johnny O’Bryant III pumped in 16 of his team-leading 18 points in the second stanza and has reached double figures in 15 of his 18 appearances on the season. He was 6-of-11 from the floor and made six of seven at the foul line. O’Bryant III also grabbed five rebounds and added two blocks.
Shavon Coleman collected a solid all-around effort with 13 points, four rebounds and three steals over his 36 minutes of action. The last time that Coleman garnered 10-plus points in back-to-back games came against New Orleans (Nov. 19) and Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 22) earlier this season.
Andre Stringer registered 12 points and six assists off the bench, while Jordan Mickey tacked on 11 points to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. The 12 points enabled Stringer to eclipse Collis Temple III (1999-2003) for the No. 29 spot on LSU’s all-time scoring list.
Hickey added 10 points and two assists. The two assists allowed Hickey to move into a 10th place tie with Tasmin Mitchell (2008-12) in program history. Jarell Martin and Malik Morgan tallied six points apiece for the Tigers.
Alabama was fueled by Trevor Releford’s 21 points. He was 6-for-10 shooting and a flawless 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Rodney Cooper picked up 17 of his 19 points aided by a quartet of three-pointers during the second half whereas Shannon Hale accounted for 17 points and six assists.
As a team, LSU connected for 20 of its 29 field goals in the second half. The Tigers turned in a 29-of-62 shooting effort which included a 7-for-16 mark from beyond the three-point line. LSU converted on 15 of its 20 free throw attempts and collected a 34-29 rebounding edge.
Alabama countered with a 27-for-52 shooting performance and knocked down 8-of-16 from three-point territory. The Crimson Tide knocked down seven triples in the second half and was an efficient 20-of-26 at the foul line.
With LSU trailing by as many as 19 points and by a 52-35 margin with 14:14 left in the second half, the Tigers went to their suffocating full court pressure defense to mount a furious comeback.
An O’Bryant III traditional three-point play followed by a Martin triple ignited the rally. LSU drew back to 58-51 with 10:05 remaining after a Stringer driving layup off a steal.
The Tigers completed a 29-12 flurry over a 7:07 stretch and knotted the score at 64-64 after a Tim Quartman putback at the 6:56 mark.
LSU grabbed a 71-68 lead on a thunderous two-handed dunk by O’Bryant III with 4:55 showing on the clock. On their next possession, the Crimson Tide evened the tally at 71-71 on a Hale trey.
The two teams would go back-and-forth and exchange the lead five times down the stretch. An O’Bryant III hook shot in the lane gave the Tigers their final advantage at 77-76 with 1:10 to go.
Hale canned a three-pointer from the top of the key to put Alabama back on top at 79-77 with 44.5 seconds on the clock.
Stringer was forced into turnover via a Releford steal on LSU’s next possession. Releford sank both of his free throws to make it a two-possession game at 81-77 with 15.8 ticks left.
With 6.7 seconds remaining, Stringer was fouled and buried all three of his fouls to pull the Tigers back to 81-80. Alabama split its two free throws before Hickey’s runner was blocked as time expired, and the Crimson Tide held on for the 82-80 win.
LSU hit three of its first five shots and scored the game’s first seven points before Alabama responded with 28 of the next 34 points. The Crimson Tide took a 36-23 advantage into the locker room on the strength of Releford’s 17 points during the opening stanza.
LSU returns home to play host to No. 14 Kentucky Tuesday at the Maravich Center. Tip time is slated for 8 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN along with www.WatchESPN.com.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball and @lsucoachjones on Twitter.