Strong Second Half Lifts Alabama Men’s Basketball Past LSU, 81-66
Graduate senior guard Corban Collins scored a season-high 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half, to lead the Alabama men’s basketball to an 81-66 road victory on Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Crimson Tide (10-6, 3-1 SEC) closed the game with strong second half, as it outscored the Tigers 30-12 over the final seven minutes, which resulted in the final score.
Junior forward Riley Norris scored a season-high 20 points to give the Tide a pair of 20-point scorers. Collins proved to be effective beyond the arc, as he made a career-high seven three-pointers (7-of-11) en route to his game-high scoring output. Sophomore Donta Hall added 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor, while freshman forward Braxton Key led the team in rebounding with nine boards to go along with seven points and three assists.
“Basically, it was a tale of two games for us and a tale of two halves,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “In our last game (vs. Florida), we threw the ball all over the gym and had 18 turnovers. Our opponents capitalized on our turnovers. We couldn’t get our defense set. When we get our defense set, we feel like we’re a pretty good defensive team. Tonight, especially in the second half, we did a good job of taking care of the ball. We got our defense set and executed. I thought overall we did a great job on (Antonio) Blakeney.”
With the score knotted at 56-56 with 5:09 left to play, Norris connected on back-to-back three-pointers to jump start an 18-4 Crimson Tide run over the next 3:52 to stretch the lead to 74-60 with 1:17 left. From there, Alabama, which outscored LSU (9-7, 1-4), 53-33, in the second half, cruised to the double-digit victory.
The game was close throughout the majority, as it featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as neither team led by more than six points. Both teams traded baskets through the first 10 minutes of the contest, as the Tigers held a one-point lead, 17-16, at the midway point of the first half. LSU went on a quick 5-2 run to take a 22-18 lead with 7:53 on the clock, before the Tide responded with four straight points to tie the score at 22-22 with 6:12 remaining in the first half. Alabama went on to hold a one-point advantage with 3:34 on the clock at 27-26, before LSU closed out the half with a 7-1 run to take a 33-28 lead going into halftime.
The Tide asserted itself in the opening minutes of the second half, going on a 7-1 run to tie the score at 34-34. LSU held a four-point lead, 48-44, at the midway point of the second half, before Alabama responded with a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead at 51-48 with 9:06 remaining in the contest. LSU quickly responded with a 6-0 run of its own to take a 54-51 lead with 7:53 left to play, before the Tide went on the impressive 30-12 game-ending run.
After shooting just 28 percent in the opening half, Alabama connected on 16-of-31 (51.6 percent) shots over the final 20 minutes to finish the game at 39.7 percent from the field. The Tide hit 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) of its shots from beyond the arc, led by Collins’ seven. The Tide also owned a 41-37 rebounding edge and had 15 assists compared to just 10 turnovers.
“This man right here, Corban Collins, was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “He made shots for us and kept us calm. When he got banged up a little bit in the last game, it hurt us because we need him in the game.
“I’m really proud of our team. We took quality shots in the second half unlike in the first half. We rebounded in the second half unlike the first half. We got some easy baskets in the second half. It was a great team win, and I’m really proud of this young man (Corban Collins) who you need to talk to.”
Alabama will return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 18, when it hosts the Missouri Tigers in a game that is set to broadcast on ESPNU at 6 p.m. CT.