TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)—Trevor Releford scored a season-high 20 points and Tony Mitchell had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead Alabama to a 69-53 Southeastern Conference win over LSU on Wednesday night.
Releford was 9 of 11 from the field for the Crimson Tide (13-3, 2-0), who cruised to their fifth straight win.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Releford said. “I was playing to my identity.”
Unlike its football counterparts, who were shut out by Alabama in the BCS Championship game Monday night, LSU (11-5, 1-1) showed some offense. The Tigers used a 9-0 run to lead 11-8. It was just the fifth run of 8-0 or larger the Crimson Tide has surrendered this season.
With the score tied at 16 at the 8:54 mark, Alabama closed the half with a 15-3 spurt to take a 31-19 lead at intermission. Ben Eblen scored on a driving lay-up, Mitchell hit a jump shot, Levi Randolph slammed home an alley-oop dunk, Releford made a lay-up and a jumper, Green made a jump shot and Randolph nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Crimson Tide some separation.
After LSU got within eight with 14:25 remaining on a Storm Warren layup, Alabama used an 18-5 run to take control for good. When Releford capped the spree with a basket to make it 58-37, the student section briefly chanted, “Just like Monday,” in reference to the Crimson Tide football team’s dominating 21-0 win over the Tigers.
“Teams are going to get a run,” Releford said. “We just had to fight back.”
Andre Stringer had 13 points and Justin Hamilton scored 12 to lead LSU.
“We simply didn’t play well tonight,” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “We weren’t able to execute most of our plays. For some reason, we weren’t able to play like we’re capable of, and that’s my fault. It took a while to get going and attack the rim.
“We had unforced turnovers to put us behind the eight-ball and against a team like this you can’t recover. The bottom line, for whatever the reason, we were sluggish, and that’s on me. It took us a while to get going.”
Alabama had a 39-29 rebounding advantage and blocked five shots.
“In both halves our defense carried us,” said Alabama coach Anthony Grant. “That was the key for us tonight. And rebounding the basketball. Those two things helped us tonight.
“We also got out in transition.”
Forward JaMychal Green, who had been out with a shoulder injury since Dec. 17, scored nine points in his 103rd start for Alabama. He also grabbed three rebounds and blocked two shots.
LSU shot only 35.8 percent from the field (19 of 53) compared to 50.8 percent (30 of 59) for the Crimson Tide.
“Our kids missed open shots and committed 15 turnovers,” Johnson said. “Not to take anything away from them, but it is what it is.”
- Duke’s Kyrie Irving says he’s undecided about turning pro
- Elation and agony: UNC dramatically flips script from last year while UK suffers brutal '92 flashback
- Final Four game times, matchups, TV schedule, betting odds set
- Luke Maye's dramatic last-second jumper sends North Carolina to the Final Four
- Follow NCAA tournament Elite Eight action
- Where does South Carolina rank among the most surprising Final Four teams?
- Final Four storylines: Droughts end, the West returns and defense triumphs
- CBS Columbus affiliate cuts away from North Carolina-Kentucky finish, viewers miss winning shot
- Recently fired Tom Crean attends Indiana women's basketball game