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Alabama holds on to beat LSU, 82-80

AP - Sports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- - Trevor Releford had 21 points to lead four players in double-figures as Alabama hung on to beat LSU 82-80 Saturday night.

LSU's Andre Stinger made three free throws to cut Alabama's lead to 81-80 with seven seconds left, Rodney Cooper made a free throw with 5 seconds remaining to put the Crimson Tide back up by two, then raced back to block a potential game-winning shot by Anthony Hickey to preserve the win.

"Once I missed the (second free throw), I made sure I got back (to play defense)," Cooper said.

"The thing that I was most proud of was that our guys stuck together," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "They got tougher. At the end they made stops. They did what they needed to do at the end (to win the game)."

After falling behind early in the first half, Alabama led by as many as 19 points, 47-28 at the 17:04 mark of the second half.

LSU (12-6, 2-4 SEC) pressed and rallied to tie the game at 64-64 on a field goal by Tim Quarterman with 6:57 left.

Alabama (9-10, 3-3) had its 14-game SEC home court winning streak snapped by Florida Thursday night and now has won nine straight games against LSU at Coleman Coliseum and is 38-8 when playing the Tigers at home. The Tigers' last win in Coleman Coliseum came on Jan. 31, 2004. The Crimson Tide have won seven of the last nine meetings and 12 of the last 16 games between the two teams.

"Well, they made big shots," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We wound up putting ourselves in a position, knocking down some shots to get the lead. We wanted to make sure to keep (Trevor) Releford out of the game. He had an excellent first half, scoring 17 points. We were able to do that, but they had other guys step up to make big plays for them down the stretch.

"We just weren't able to finish them off. ... I thought our guys did an excellent job though, even after they knocked their shots down to get back in position to win the game."

"It was tough," senior Andre Stringer said. "We got ourselves in a hole early. They were up at the half and we tried to do some different things in the second half to come back. We did those things. We turned them over a couple of times, got some easy baskets, and we came back. It just wasn't enough."

LSU scored the first seven points of the game but Alabama went on a 28-6 run to take a 28-13 lead on a free throw by Shannon Hale at the 6:25 mark. Releford had 17 first-half points as the Crimson Tide took a 36-23 advantage at intermission.

It was the 20th straight game that Releford had scored in double figures, dating back to last season. Cooper had a season-best 19 points for the Crimson Tide.

Johnny O'Bryant III led LSU with 18 points.

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