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|LSU rolls past Alabama|
LSU used a 17-0 run in the first half to take the lead for good against Alabama Sunday at the Maravich Center.
The run propelled the Tigers to a 76-62 win over the Crimson Tide.
The Tigers reach the halfway point of league play as the leaders in the both the Western Division and the overall league race with a 7-1 record. LSU is 19-4 overall heading to a big game Wednesday night in Starkville against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are one game behind LSU at 6-2 entering the final four weeks of the regular season. Alabama falls to 13-10 overall and 3-6 in the league.
Alabama had the advantage early in the game as the Tigers couldn't stop the Tide, getting several easy transition buckets to opening up a nine-point lead of 11-2.
LSU slowly began to whittle the lead down, closing to 19-18 on a dunk by Marcus Thornton at the 9:34 mark but Anthony Brock would hit a three at the 8:37 mark to make it 22-18, Alabama.
That's when the Tigers went to work. Thornton hit a layup and a free throw to cut the lead to 22-21. Tasmin Mitchell hit a head-on three-pointer to give LSU the lead good at 24-22 and then Chris Johnson hit a jumper in the lane to up it to 26-22. Mitchell hit a second three, followed by a Thornton layup to make it 31-22.
Throw in layups by Johnson and Thornton and the lead was 35-22 at the 4:07 mark. The Tigers would lead, 40-28 at the break.
The Tigers did nothing in the second half that gave the Tide — the only team to beat the Tigers in league play in the opener in early January — much of a chance to come back, opening the lead to 16, 51-35, at the 14:20 mark on a three-pointer by Garrett Temple. The team reached 20, 59-39, at the 10:52 mark on a Terry Martin bucket and the lead reached as much as 23 at 66-43 on a Mitchell lay in at the 7:33 mark.
Thornton had 20 first-half points and finished with 22 points and six rebounds on an afternoon when he took only one three-pointer (and made it). The scoring in the second half was turned over to Mitchell, who finished with a nice line of 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and four steals, and Temple who finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
LSU got 20 points off the bench with Chris Bass and Terry Martin each getting five.
Mikhail Torrance had 12 points and Senario Hillman scored 11 to lead the Tide.
"We got off to a sluggish start, but we got contributions from everyone coming off the bench," said LSU Coach Trent Johnson. "I thought Chris Bass, in the first half, was very good. He had energy and made good decisions. No surprise to this team or me that once we found out the flow of the game and what adjustments needed to be made, we were able to wear people down.
"The good thing is down the stretch in the second half after the 10-minute mark, we were able to rest a lot of guys and get some meaningful minutes against some good players. Again I like the position we are in, but it's another game, and we need to get ready to play," Johnson said.