Alabama routs LSU in first half, cruises in second half to stay undefeated in SEC

The SEC’s heavyweight delivered a technical knockout to its opponent before the game was halfway over.

Alabama buried LSU in a 37-point halftime hole Saturday by making 14 three-pointers in the first half, then cruised for the final 20 minutes at Coleman Coliseum for a 106-66 win.

By the time the rout ended, Alabama had attempted 54 three-pointers — tied for the second-most in SEC history. It made 20, the fourth-most in school history.

“We got some shooters. We value shooters,” coach Nate Oats said. “A lot of teams don’t shoot 54 in a span of three or four games. We’ll keep taking them. If you’re open, you shoot it here.”

Alabama’s 40-point margin of victory was its largest in an SEC win since beating Auburn, 94-53, in 2005.

The final result left little doubt the fourth-ranked Tide (15-2) is the SEC’s team to beat as it sits atop the conference standings with an unblemished 5-0 record, with a case to be the nation’s best team when polls are updated Monday.

“We’re trying to win the SEC,” Oats said. “You got to win your home games to win it.”

Freshman Brandon Miller nearly out-scored LSU by himself in the first half, netting 22 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting before Alabama entered halftime with a 59-22 lead.

“When you’ve got the kind of character and attitude he has, good things come to you,” Oats said of Miller. “He’s obviously a really talented kid. It was great to get him started with that first three [on the first possession]and then we kind of had a barrage after that.”

Alabama attempted 33 three pointers in the first half, with the final desperation heave from half-court by Jaden Bradley banking off the backboard and into the basket as time expired.

Alabama players celebrated with Bradley as they walked to the locker room for the break, with their 14 made triples leaving the rebuilding Tigers (12-5, 1-4 in SEC) with little shot of a second-half comeback.

Nate Oats turned to his bench for much of the second half and the three-point barrage subsided. Alabama began 1-of-14 after halftime, with Miller connecting on his final make of the day. He finished with 31 points on 7-of-11 three-point shooting in a season-low 24 minutes.

“If you look at his numbers — he shot 16 shots and scored 31 points, and really didn’t get to the free-throw line,” Oats said. “He only went to the free-throw line once. One of the more efficient nights I’ve ever seen as a player.”

But Alabama heated back up in the closing minutes, making five three-pointers in a row with less than five minutes to play — the final coming from walk-on Adam Cottrell to send the sellout crowd of 13,474 into a frenzy. Walk-ons Delaney Heard and Jaden Quinerly launched two more but missed in the closing 66 seconds.

“I was really happy for Adam,” Oats said. “He’s an unbelievable kid if you’ve ever gotten a chance to know him. He’s added a lot to our program. … I was glad the crowd gave him the eruption they gave him.

“And the crowd was great. Sellout, over 2,200 students — they were great. We need it to keep happening. It would be great if we could sell out every single home game the rest of the year. I think we’re putting a product out on the floor that people want to come to.”

Alabama’s 54 attempts were the most by a Division I team this season. That tied Arkansas’ 54 in a Dec. 30, 1998 win over North Texas as the most three-point attempts in a regulation game in the SEC’s record book, with Alabama’s 59 in a 2020 overtime loss at Auburn still standing as the conference’s record.

Saturday marked the second time this season Alabama reached 20 made three-pointers. It made 21 in a 42-point win over Jacksonville State in November, which was tied for the fourth-most in SEC history. Alabama owns the conference record of 23 makes in a 2021 road win at LSU.

Alabama’s 37-percent rate on its three-pointers was tied as its eighth-best this season.

“We didn’t even shoot that great, really,” Oats said. “We took a lot of them, but a lot of them came on [offensive rebounds].”

After seeing its rebounding slip in recent games, Alabama out-rebounded the Tigers, 52-38 — the Tide’s largest margin in an SEC game this season.

“I challenged our guys to make sure they were ready to go out of the gate. We needed to play harder than them,” Oats said. “I thought our rebounding at the start of the game was outstanding. At one point early in the game, the second-chance points were 18-3.”

Alabama turned the ball over only eight times, the third time in the past four games it has kept its turnovers in the single digits. It had double-digit turnovers in all of its other games this season.

Alabama made 80 percent of its free throws (16-20), its third-highest rate of the season. It held LSU to 29.5 percent shooting from the field, the third-worst mark against Alabama this season, although the Tigers shot 38 percent (8-of-21) on three pointers.

“Our defense in the first half, our offensive rebounding, a lot of effort stuff — that’s what I was most happy with,” Oats said. “That’s what we told our guys our focus was going to be on. The offense will take care of itself. Let’s make sure we play harder. The blue collar points we chart, we had [LSU] doubled in the game.”

Miller was joined in scoring double digits by Mark Sears (12 points), Rylan Griffen (12), Jahvon Quinerly (12) and Nick Pringle (10). Quinerly shot 4-of-8 on three-pointers, his most makes from beyond the arc this season.

Alabama plays on the road twice next week, at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night and at Missouri next Saturday.

“I’m not necessarily calling this a statement win,” Oats said. “I know we made a lot of threes. We’re going to have to come out and do it again on the road at Vanderbilt to be able to keep the lead [in the SEC].”

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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