Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Tigers Tackle Tide, LSU 88 Alabama 79

First of all, thanks again to MSmilie for doing an excellent job re-capping the big win over Kentucky in my absence.  I watched that game on a plane, and my language during the final minute may have traumatized any small children who happened to be on the same flight, but on to the business at hand...

The five game winning streak came to an end in Baton Rouge last night as Alabama fell to 1-1 in league play.  The game started slow, but LSU was able to pick up the pace and make an absurd 8 of 10 from  3 point range in the first half, including two that banked in off of the glass.  We still could have kept it within shouting distance, but a couple of bad turnovers in the final minute of the half allowed LSU to stretch the lead to 15 going into the locker room. 

Once again the substitution patterns were questionable at times.  We played 11 guys in this game, and AJ got 8 minutes and had two costly turnovers, including one at the end of the first half.  Dan Giddens returned after sitting on the bench for a month and actually showed a decent little jumper to score 6 points in 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, he gave up at least that many defensively, as he was often out of position and picked up 3 quick fouls. 

After falling behind by 19, the team showed great effort and did not quit.  The coaching staff made a great adjustment by switching to a 2-3 zone defense in the second half after the Tigers finally cooled down from 3-point range.  We cut the lead to 4 but just couldn't quite make the plays to get over the hump.  A couple of key plays that stand out in my mind, we nearly had a steal from Tremont Waters at midcourt, but he made a great one-handed pass from the floor for an assist on the dunk.  Next, trailing by 6 with 1:08 remaining, LSU missed two free throws, but JP failed to block out the shooter and they got the offensive rebound and stretched the lead back to 8.

There were a lot of positives to take from this game, but we just had too many turnovers and mistakes to beat a good team on the road.  Kira ended with 15 points despite only going 3 of 11 from the field.  The offense just seems to run much more smoothly when he's in the game, and he should be getting closer to 35 or 36 minutes per game, than the 31 he got, in my opinion.  Herb had another good game and even ran the point at times.  He ended up with 10 points, 5 assists, and only one turnover.  This wasn't a great matchup for Donta and his streak of double-doubles came to an end with 7 points and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes of play.  Riley contributed with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and some solid defense before fouling out.  JP made a couple of 3s, scoring 9 points to go along with 8 rebounds. 

We've got to get better defensively, in addition to the flukish 3s they were killing us in the post.  Waters is one of the best players in the league, so it's no surprise he put up 19 on us, but Bigby-Williams should not get 14 points and 13 rebounds against our bigs.

I'm normally not one to complain about the announcers, but Andy Kennedy and David Neal are terrible.  I think Andy is a solid basketball coach, and would do a great job at a mid-major.  I would love to see UAB can Ehsan and hire him, but his personality just doesn't translate to the broadcast, and it seems like they don't have any chemistry together. 

Up next, we return home to face the Texas A&M Aggies Saturday at 12:30pm.  The Aggies are currently a quad 3 team, and we must protect our home court if we want to make the tournament.  Hopefully the fans will come out and support this team on the heels of the big win over big blue.  If you can't make it to Tuscaloosa, the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

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