By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
NASHVILLE, TN: LSU battled the Crimson Tide down to the final second in the SEC Championship Game on Sunday in Nashville, as Aundre Hyatt's attempted put back from under the basket would bounce twice on the rim, refusing to fall in as time expired. The 80-79 loss is the toughest of the season for the Tigers as they played extremely hard, giving everything they had.
Alabama would control the opening tip and Keon Ellis would drive straight to the goal and lay it in for a 2-0 lead. LSU would miss fire and the Tide would come right back with a Ellis three pointer. 5-0 Bama at the 19:00 mark. The Crimson Tide weren't finished with their early run yet as Jaden Shackelford would hit from behind the arc to extend the lead to 8-0. Will Wade would immediately call a timeout to try a calm down the surging Tide.
Coming out of the timeout, Cam Thomas would respond hitting his first basket of the game, a three pointer that would ignite a 12-5 LSU run over the next three minutes as Bama would begin to have trouble getting the ball to go in a hole. The Tide would now only lead by one, 13-12 with 14:23 left on the clock.
After both teams would miss from three point land, Thomas would come through for the Tigers hitting a very deep three pointer to give LSU their first lead of the ballgame, 15-13.
As the game would continue to shape into a fast pace, physical battle, we would find Bama up by one at the next officials timeout, 18-17 with 11:19 left in the half.
Over the next four minutes Bama would outscore LSU 6-2 to take a 24-19 advantage with 7:23 left in the first half.
LSU would begin to settle into a flow, working hard down low, getting the ball to fall in, putting them on a 13-7 run over the last four minutes to give the Tigers the lead, 32-31 with 3:22 left.
Bama would step up their play over the final two minutes as they would take advantage of missed LSU opportunities, outscoring the Bayou Bengals 9-3 to take a 40-37 lead at halftime.
Cam Thomas and Trendon Watford would each have 13 points each in the first half, while Javonte Smart would score 7 points. If LSU has any chance to win this championship game, Smart and Days need to both step up and begin scoring....
LSU would start the second half outscoring Bama 6-2 over the first two minutes to grab the lead back, 43-42. Both teams would begin to trade baskets and the lead over the next three minutes, with the Tide clinging to a one point lead, 46-45 at the 15:27 mark.
Over the next four minutes LSU would grab the lead back and have several opportunities to extend it, but would miss out, allowing Bama to breath in new life and respond as the Tide would go on a 8-2 run to take a 55-52 lead with 11:48 left in the ballgame.
After a Herbert Jones free throw, Javonte Smart would step up for the Tigers hitting back to back three
pointers to give LSU the lead back, 58-56 at the 10:41 mark.
But Bama would continue their aggressive play on both ends going on a 8-2 run to take a 64-60 lead with 8:12 left in the game.
Trendon Watford would continue to have an amazing game as he would lead the Tigers back to tie things up at 69-69 with 5:52 left. A Bama dunk would give the Tide a two point advantage, 71-69 as we would go into the media timeout with 3:53 left in the game.
Javonte Smart would hit a huge three pointer to pull the Tigers to within two, 76-74 with 2:16 to go. Smart would then hit another three pointer with 1:16 left to give LSU the lead, 77-76.
After the teams would trade baskets, LSU would still cling to a one point lead, 79-78 with :27 seconds left in the game.
Herbert Jones would score on a layup to give the Tide the lead with :19 ticks left on the clock.
LSU would have one final oppornutiy to pull out a victory as they would inbound the ball from
under their basket with seven seconds left in te game. Trendon Watford would miss a three point attempt, which was rebounded by Aundre Hyatt who would miss a easy put back under the basket as time expired, letting Alabama escape with a 80-79 win.
Trendon Watford would have an outstanding game as he would lead the Tigers with 30 points. Javonte Smart would have a big second half as he would finish with 21 points. Alabama would do a great job of shutting Darius Days down as he would only manage two points on the day. They would also slow down Cam Thomas who wasn't able to touch or handle the ball much in the second half as he would manage 18 points in the game.
What a heartbreaking loss for the Tigers as they played lights out against a team that had embarrassed them twice during the regular season.
With the loss LSU now sits at 18-9 and will now wait on the selection committee to decide their fate for the NCAA Tournament which will begin next week.