Sunday, February 08, 2015
Bayou Bengals Bury Bama, 71-60
With Retin out due to a hand injury, we were down to only one point guard, true freshman Justin Coleman. Levi helped run the point and did a nice job.
Once again, we looked flat in the first half. If LSU could make a free throw, the game would have been decided well before halftime. Instead, we went to the locker room feeling fortunate to only be down 30-20. The Tigers were hot to start the second half, stretching their lead to 17 before we answered with a run to cut the margin down to 2 with 9 minutes left. LSU called timeout, Shannon Hale fell asleep on defense in the zone allowing an alley-oop dunk which got the crowd back into the game, we failed to score for the next 4 minutes while LSU slowly but methodically built their lead back up to double-digits, and that was that.
I did not agree with the game plan from either coach. As noted above, we only had one PG who was a true freshman, if I were an LSU fan I would be asking why they never really tried to press us. Conversely, a blind man could see that LSU had a huge advantage in the post. When you are severely out-manned down low, the last thing you want is a slow-paced, half court game. Yet for some reason, we routinely passed on open shots to run the shot clock down to the final 5 seconds. We should have pressed more and ran more, in my opinion.
Levi had another great game with 17 points. Riley dropped a double-dozen with 12 rebounds and points. Shannon contributed with 14 points, but I would argue that he did not have a very good game. He had 4 turnovers, 2 of which were right underneath our own basket leading to easy LSU scores, plus the missed assignment on defense that led to the dunk which was a defining moment in the game.
Devin Mitchell played, and now I see why he hasn't been getting more playing time. He looked completely lost out there. I still think he can be a good player for us in the future, but he's clearly still adjusting to the speed of the college game. Even though they didn't have great games, I think this experience will help both Devin and Justin Coleman get better.
They only had about 6,000 fans in attendance. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon during Mardi Gras season, so I wasn't too surprised by their lacking attendance. I counted 28 Alabama fans, notably including Bill Battle who made the trip. The LSU fans were generally polite and welcoming. In the concourse at halftime, a 7 or 8 year old kid came up to me and said, "you guys are really really good at football, but not so much at basketball." The father apologized, but I thought it was funny. I told the father his son was exactly right, and told the kid that I support all of our teams, good or bad, and he should do the same for LSU. I was surprised to hear that Johnny Jones is not really catching much heat down there. The general consensus among the Tiger fans that we talked to is that his recruiting is so good they are willing do deal with his questionable in-game coaching decisions.
The seemingly lack of commitment to basketball at LSU is sad and disappointing. They have a great tradition, 4 final four appearances, and have produced some of the greatest players in the game's history in Pistol Pete and Shaq. The P-Mac is an average-at-best facility. From the concourse, the sections aren't labeled, but each portal has large wooden doors and is assigned a number. The problem, the tickets only print the section number, and not the portal entrance, so it's necessary to consult one of the posted maps to match your section number to your portal before locating your seats. The floor throughout most of the building was sticky and felt unclean, and the seats lack cup holders. On the positive side, the configuration is great, unlike our arena at least all seats do actually face the court, and the fans are generally close to the action.
Up next, we make the short trip down Highway 82 to take on the surprising Mississippi State bulldogs in Starkville. I honestly think we would have to win every remaining regular season game to be in the conversation on selection Sunday, so they are all "must wins" at this point. The game will tip off at 8pm on the SEC network.
Finally, while not Alabama related, I must offer my condolences to the family of the late Coach Dean Smith and the North Carolina family. Regardless of how you may feel about UNC, as basketball fans we all lost a great one this weekend. He was a class act and a truly innovative coach, and will be missed.