Four players scored in double figures as LSU defeated Alabama 68-56 in a second-round game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday night.
Alabama took a 21-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Levi Randolph with 8:46 remaining in the first half. LSU then went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game. The Crimson Tide went six minutes without scoring. During that stretch, Alabama missed seven field goal attempts and two free throw attempts and committed two turnovers. Tim Quarterman was the key offensive player during the Tigers outburst. Quarterman made three baskets, including one 3-pointer. Johnny O'Bryant made two field goals and recorded assists on two of Quarterman's three field goals. The other LSU points came on a Jordan Mickey layup. Retin Obasohan snapped the Alabama scoring drought with a 3-pointer at the 2:45 mark of the first half. The Tigers had a 35-24 lead at halftime.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
LSU fell behind in the opening minutes. With Shannon Hale making two baskets and Trevor Releford knocking down a 3-pointer, Alabama jumped out in front 9-5. But, the Tigers didn't allow the Tide to build a sizeable margin. Shavon Coleman connected on three shots from behind the 3-point line as LSU scored ten consecutive points. That flurry of baskets from Coleman gave the Tigers a 15-9 lead with 12:32 remaining before halftime. During this five-minute scoring stretch, Alabama missed five field goal attempts and committed two turnovers.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
Alabama stayed in striking distance of LSU for most of the second half. The Crimson Tide never trailed by fewer than six points, but the Tigers could not deliver the knockout punch. LSU finally put the game away in a brief three-minute span late in the second half. A layup by Releford put Alabama behind 59-50 with 5:47 remaining. Releford failed to convert the three-point play, and the Tigers went on a 9-0 run. Coleman and Andre Stringer made 3-pointers with Anthony Hickey picking up assists on both treys. Hickey also made a field goal and Mickey sank one of two foul shots to put LSU ahead 68-50 with 3:04 to play. The Tide missed three field goal attempts and committed one turnover in this span.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
A year ago, Coleman scored 24 points in leading LSU to a second-round SEC tournament victory against Georgia. Coleman scored just 15 points Thursday, but he once again paced the Tigers. Coleman made a career-high five 3-pointers, one more than he made against the Bulldogs last March. Coleman was 5-of-9 on treys. In the previous seven games, Coleman was 6-of-22 on 3-pointers. Coleman also had eight rebounds, one shy of his season-best against Kentucky, and three assists.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
In LSU's past eight games, Quarterman had scored two points. He scored a season-high 12 points in just 12 minutes against Alabama. Quarterman was 5-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers. He also had three rebounds. Quarterman had scored only 31 points in 18 regular season SEC games.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
Mickey had his normal game with nine points and 11 rebounds. Mickey, who was 4-of-6 from the field, blocked three shots. He now has 99 this season, which equals the fourth-most by a LSU player. Tyrus Thomas also had 99 blocks in 2006. The three highest single-season blocked-shot totals all belong to Shaquille O'Neal.
In its 82-80 regular-season victory against LSU, Alabama shot 52 percent from the field , including 50 percent on 3-pointers. The Tigers clamped down on the Crimson Tide in this meeting. Alabama made just 36 percent of its field goal attempts (18-of-50), including 29 percent on 3-pointers (6-of-21). Rodney Cooper who was 4-of-5 on treys in the first game, missed all five of his 3-point shots Thursday. Meanwhile, LSU shot 50 percent from the field (27-of-54) and 50 percent on 3-pointers (11-of-22). The 11 treys were a season-high for the Tigers. LSU had a 38-31 edge on the boards and handed out 19 assists on the 27 made baskets. The Tigers also had an 18-7 advantage in bench points.
LSU went back to its normal lineup of O'Bryant and Mickey in the post, Jarell Martin and Coleman on the wings and Hickey at point guard. . .As has been the norm, O'Bryant was the target of the Alabama defense. He finished with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. O'Bryant could have ended with more points, but he missed four of his five foul shots. O'Bryant had six rebounds and four assists. O'Bryant has 1,110 career points. He passed Bobby Meador and Wayne Sims to move into 32nd place on the school's all-time list. . .Martin scored in double figures for the fourth time in the last five games. He had 10 points, while making four of his eight field goal attempts. Martin also contributed three assists, which matched his season-high, and two steals. . .Hickey only scored five points, but he totaled eight assists and three steals. The eight assists equaled his career-high - coming earlier this season against Kentucky and Texas A&M. . .For one of the few times this season, Stringer wasn't the top contributor off the bench. Stringer made two of six 3-pointers to finish with six points. . .Hale and Releford each had 11 points for Alabama. In the regular-season contest, those two players combined for 38 points. . .LSU won its first game in the SEC tournament for the third consecutive season. The Tigers beat Arkansas in 2012 and Georgia in 2013. LSU lost its next game in both of those tournaments. . .The Tigers had not played Alabama in the SEC tournament in 27 years. LSU lost to the Crimson Tide 69-62 in the finals of the 1987 tournament. . .The Tigers had not beaten Alabama at a site other than the PMAC in ten years. LSU defeated the Tide 60-54 in Tuscaloosa in 2004. . .LSU is 19-12, while Alabama finished its season at 13-19.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"Our guys did an excellent job establishing themselves early against a very good basketball team. Our guys played well on both ends of the floor, especially defensively early on. It was one of our better team efforts from all of our guys."
"Tim Quarterman was a tone-setter. He had a setback a few weeks ago when he did not get an opportunity to travel to Kentucky. He had to get back home and take care of some family things. We're glad he was able to bounce back tonight. He was the X-factor. He set the tone the way he played early on, hitting 3s and finishing with a rebound dunk."
"Give credit to Johnny O'Bryant. He didn't force anything. Johnny did an excellent job after the initial trap. He did a good job of getting the ball out of there. His teammates did an excellent job of making the extra passes, getting good looks and knocking down big shots."
"We've been seeing a lot in him. He's been working hard in practice. He was talking in warmups today. He was shooting the ball well and giving us a lot of energy. I had a good feeling that he was going to come out and give us some great minutes when it was his opportunity to get in the game."
"We have been down from the losses before. Our back is against the ropes. But, we're going to keep competing and coming out every night. We came out hot today. We were able to pass the ball around. When we pass the ball around, we're hard to guard. We were able to knock down shots tonight."
LSU will play Kentucky in a quarterfinal game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Wildcats (22-9, 12-6) tied with Georgia for second place. Kentucky is the No. 2 seed by virtue of its victories against the Bulldogs. The Tigers split their two regular-season victories against the Wildcats. LSU hasn't won two games in the SEC tournament in 11 years. LSU beat both Arkansas and Florida in the 2003 tournament. The LSU-Kentucky game will be broadcast on SECTV.