BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU men’s basketball team put up a tremendous fight against No. 4 Alabama, but couldn’t make enough plays to get the victory, falling 79-69, at home Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers fall to 12-11 overall, 1-9 in the SEC, while Alabama is now at 20-3, undefeated in the conference.
LSU played hard throughout, trying to erase the memory of the 40-point loss three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa. LSU never allowed the Tide to get out by more than 12 points in the game and the Tigers cut the deficit to just two points three times in the second half, at 50-48 with 15:48 to play, 53-51 with 14:39 to go and 56-54 with 13:09 to play.
But after Adam Miller’s three-pointer that made it 56-54 in favor of Alabama, the Tide got a three-pointer and after an LSU miss pushed the margin back out to seven and LSU never got closer than six the rest of the game.
LSU junior Derek Fountain had by far his best game as a collegiate, scoring 26 points in 35 minutes, making 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-3 from the arc and 12-of-15 at the free throw line as he drew a total of nine fouls. Fountain, whose previous career high was as a freshman ironically in the Maravich Center as a Mississippi State Bulldog against LSU, was 20.
Fountain also had two assists, no turnovers and blocked four shots.
Junior Cam Hayes also had a good game with 15 points and a co-high eight boards in 28 minutes, with three treys for LSU.
Rylan Griffen and Noah Clowney each had 14 points to lead Alabama’s five in double figures with Mark Sears and Nimari Burnett each getting 13. Brandon Miller had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams played pretty clean basketball with LSU having its second lowest turnover number of the season at eight, while Alabama turned it over nine times. LSU had a 7-3 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Tigers out rebounded Alabama, 40-35, and had for the third straight game an advantage in offensive rebounds of 13-4, but it only resulted in a 6-4 advantage in second chance points.
Alabama shot 44.8 percent for the game (26-of-58), including 53.3 percent (16-of-30) in the first half when they opened up a 44-37 halftime lead. LSU shot just 30.6 percent for the game (19-of-62) with seven treys.
Both teams were good at the foul line, with Alabama making 14-of-15 (93.3%) and LSU finishing 24-of-31 (77.4%)
LSU returns to the road on Wednesday night to face Mississippi State in Starkville, before a Saturday night 7:30 p.m. game against Texas A&M.
QUOTES LSU vs. Alabama
LSU Head Matt McMahon
“Congratulations to Alabama on their road win today. Thought we saw some improvement form our team, Alabama just has so much firepower and they can really score it at a high level. If you go back to, I think the last seven minutes of the game, both teams really struggled to score there. We got stops but were not able to convert those into points. That said, credit to Alabama for the win.”
On LSU’s improvement on offense…
“It gives us a chance when we don’t turn the ball over because it gives us a chance to limit those transition points, especially against a team as explosive as Alabama. We gave up three points off turnovers today and that’s the reason we had an opportunity to be in the game. The offensive rebounds, it’s great, it’s an effort stat and it’s great that we got 13 of them, but we don’t convert them into enough points. We just don’t have much efficiency on those offensive rebounds. Today, 13 offensive boards and only six points there and you’d like that number to be over a point per offensive rebound, certainly. All that said, it’s difficult to win against a team of that caliber shooting 30 percent from the floor and 26 (percent) from three. We have to continue to keep getting better there.”
On the performance of Derek Fountain…
“I thought Derek Fountain was terrific. He embodies everything I want to build this program around. Relentless effort, energy, he’s all about the team. He has really stepped forward into a leadership role. People respect hard work, toughness and people who put the team above themselves, and he checks all those boxes. We need to keep building around that and make that more contagious with in the entire program and organization moving forward.”
LSU v. Alabama
4 February 2023
LSU Forward Derek Fountain
On their performance in the game…
“Tired of losing. Alabama is (ranked) top 4, that is great, we knew that coming in. We’ve been losing lately, so all we have been trying to do is get better at competing. Alabama is a big team, so we just wanted to make sure that we were all locked in coming into the game. That is all it really was.”
On Fountain’s free throw attempts …
“I just come in the game, I tell myself to go play hard. Whatever happens, happens.”
LSU Guard Cam Hayes
On Shawn Phillips’ performance …
“Shawn has been playing hard, he is a freshman. The one thing about Shawn, he is going to go hard every day. He has a lot of passion. He puts everything in the game, so it was good seeing him out there helping us, contributing tonight. I was proud of him, I was happy for him.”
On the aggressiveness of the game…
“We felt like in the paint we had an advantage. The way they guarded, like ball screen, (Charles) Bediako, he just sits in the paint. There was a lot of free runs to the rim. We just had to finish our layups, we weren’t really finishing as much. We just always want to be aggressive, that is what we have been talking about in practice. I think it helped us because we shot 31 free throws tonight. So, that is good, we just still have to fix the little things to win games.”
Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats
Feb. 4, 2023
“It was definitely not one of our better wins but you know, sometimes when you’re competing for an elite championship you have to go on the road and win games that aren’t pretty; they’re ugly. I thought we had some guys step up in back-to-back games. Nimari (Burnett) has played really well for us, Rylan (Griffen) shot the ball really well tonight so it was good to see some guys step up and JQ (Jahvon Quinerly) created some really good offense for us in the second half. Our defense was nowhere close to where we’d like it to be. I thought late in the game we got some stops we needed to, (Noah) Clowney really stepped up for us big there late. We’ve got to give them a lot of credit. We kind of pounded them on the glass the first time we played them but this time, we only had four O-Boards (offensive boards) the entire game. I told our guys … we’re going to hurt teams one way and they’re going to make a huge point of emphasis to stop it the second time playing them and we’ve got to do a better job still figuring out how to still make that a strength of ours. So, not our best performance but at this point when you play a team the second time on the road, those are hard ones to get. We’re at 10-0 and we’ve got a tough week ahead of us, a tough couple of weeks ahead of us to be honest with you.”
On the team’s effort after coming off the big win against Vanderbilt…
“Not like it was against Vanderbilt. I’m a little disappointed with the effort to be honest with you. We got out rebounded by five, so we’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to find a group of guys that’s really going to play hard no matter what and kind of get back to … can’t be up and down every other game. We’re not going to be able to do that and get wins going forward. We’ve got Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, the last two being on the road. We’ve got to play ball in all three of those games coming up. If we play like this, we’re not going to get a win.”