After blowing a 19 point second half lead, Bama somehow found a way to get our first win of the season when giving up more than 65 points.
I thought we played about as well as we could reasonably expect in the first half. Finally, we played a more up tempo offense which allowed us to get shots up before LSU could get their defense in position. By attacking the basket, we were able to send Johnny O'Bryant to the bench with foul trouble. Hale and Cooper really stepped up to prevent LSU from focusing all of their defensive efforts on Releford. We led by 13 at the half and stretched it to 19 early in the second half.
Then, Johnny Jones made an adjustment and started to press. With Retin still out due to his hip injury, Relly was our only ball handler on the floor. I thought we should have put Algie Key in at some point to help with the press. We couldn't get the ball across half court, and LSU was able to come back thanks to our turnovers. Johnny O'Bryant had a big second half after returning to the game because we couldn't guard him one on one in the man to man. I thought we should have been in the zone more when he was in the game in the second half, or at the very least double-teamed him when he got the ball in the post. It was frustrating that we seemingly made no effort to draw his 4th foul. I yelled at Coach Grant to put Nick Jacobs in the game around the 8 minute mark to get him to try to post him up and maybe draw that 4th foul. He did actually put Jacobs in the game, but we made no effort to get him the ball or to attack Bryant.
It was great to see Cooper prove me wrong about his inability to shoot. His 19 points, including 4 of 5 from 3 point range down the stretch, was a key to regaining control of the game late. Relly and Shannon Hale also had great games, with 21 and 17 points respectively.
We did just about everything wrong the last few possessions of the game, but luckily it didn't come back to bite us. With a 4 point lead, Algie Key came into the game and fouled their 3-point shooter with 6 seconds left. That's literally about the only way they have a chance to win at that point. We had a smaller lineup, and were clearly conceding a 2 point basket if LSU wanted to attack the rim. I'm sure the coaching staff emphasized to Algie not to give up a good look from the perimeter, but they should have also emphasized the importance of not fouling a 3 point shooter. This is becoming a bad habit, I think that's the 3rd time in the last 3 games we've sent somebody to the line with 3 shots. After he made all 3, we don't even bother to set a screen for Releford, our best 3 point shooter, on the in-bounds play. Instead, it goes to Cooper, who makes only 1 of 2. Thankfully, LSU was out of timeouts, so they had to rush the ball up the court and take a contested jumpshot off the dribble. When Coop missed the free throw, given the way this season has been going, I just knew the Tigers were going to make a 3 at the buzzer.
It was a great crowd, I would estimate close to 11,000. The student section wasn't quite as full as it was for the Florida game, but more of the other seats were filled. LSU brought close to 1,000 fans and they were more concentrated and loud in supporting their team. I do think our crowd has a positive effect on the game in the final minutes.
Up next, we go to the ugliest village on the plains to play arguably the worst team in the history of SEC basketball, our arch-rival auburn tigers. A win would give auburn the longest losing streak in conference history, they haven't won a game since they beat us down there last year. It will no doubt be the most hostile environment we've played in so far this year, but hopefully we can get that first victory away from Coleman. Tip-off is set for 7 pm Wednesday night and it will be televised on SEC network. For my own sanity and personal safety, I have decided against making that trip this year.