Just like the football team on Monday night in New Orleans, the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team smothered LSU with a swarming effort on the defensive end of the floor. The Tide flustered LSU all night long, holding the Bayou Bengals to 45 points, and just 37% shooting from the floor. They also forced LSU into 14 turnovers. In the end, Alabama moved to 2-0 in the SEC, and 13-3 overall for the 2011-12 season with their 69-53 win at Coleman Coliseum.
Sophomore point guard Trevor Releford continued his red-hot play. He led the Crimson Tide with 20 points on 9/11 shooting from the floor. Over the last five games, Releford is shooting over 70% from the floor. When he is playing as good as he has been, Alabama is a very tough basketball team to beat. It’s no surprise that during Releford’s hot streak, Alabama has won all five games after sluggish play near the end of their non-conference slate.
Releford showed his potential toward the end of last season, and he always displayed an ability to get to the basket at will, but he’s now improved his jump shot. When he is able to shoot the ball effectively, Releford is virtually impossible to stop.
Tony Mitchell finished the game with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, and had his usual highlight worthy put-back dunk in the second half against LSU. Mitchell also provided a big spark on the defensive end. LSU had a size advantage, but Mitchell denied the ball well all night, and added a pair of steals. JaMychal Green hasn’t been his normal self since a shoulder injury earlier in the season. He finished with just 9 points and 3 rebounds. He hasn’t made the injury excuse, but there is obviously still something wrong with him.
Trevor Lacey followed up a career-high 19-point performance against Georgia in the SEC opener with just 6 points against LSU, but he did grab 10 rebounds. Fellow freshman Levi Randolph had one of his better offensive nights with 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
The biggest concern for the Tide coming into this game was the superior size LSU had on its side. I was worried LSU would dominate Alabama on the glass, but it was actually the opposite. Alabama was the team that won the battle on the boards, with 37 rebounds compared to 27 for LSU.
Alabama’s offense continues to execute better in the past few games, and while they struggled from the three-point line, Alabama shot 51% from the floor. Along with the struggles from downtown, Alabama turned the ball over 15 times to match the 15 by LSU. Also, after making all but one foul shot against Georgia on Saturday in Athens, the Tide was just 6-of-12 this evening.
For those that weren’t there or didn’t watch the game, there was a very good crowd at Coleman Coliseum tonight in the first day back at classes for the University. It also helped that this was the same team the football team dispatched at the SuperDome on Monday night. The crowd sarcastically cheered when LSU brought the ball up past halfcourt, mocking their football team for only crossing midfield once in the National Championship Game.
In similar fashion, when Alabama held a 21-point lead during the second half, the same amount of points the football team won by, the crowd chanted “Just Like Monday.”
The crowds at Coleman have been lackluster at times this season, but with school back in session, and football season officially being over we should see an increase in attendance much like last season at this point.
This 2-0 start in SEC play with wins over Georgia and LSU was absolutely critical with the three-game stretch the team must endure after tonight. On Saturday, Alabama travels up to Starkville to take on 20th ranked Mississippi State, who is also currently sporting a 13-3 record that includes wins over Texas A&M and Arizona. The Bulldogs also played undefeated Baylor to the wire earlier in the year.
After Saturday’s game, Alabama will come back to Coleman Coliseum to take on Vanderbilt on January 19th, and then they’ll battle 2nd ranked Kentucky in Lexington just 48 hours later. We will find out how good this team is in the next three games.