TUSCALOOSA | Anthony Grant didn't like the way the University of Alabama finished its game with LSU on Saturday night, but he liked the way things on the scoreboard finished just fine.
Alabama 60, LSU 57.
The Crimson Tide overcame 20-for-33 free-throw shooting and 2-for-18 success from 3-point range with another solid defensive performance to maintain a halftime lead it never lost.
"Down the stretch there, we've been pretty good. For whatever reason tonight, we just made some mental errors," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "Sometimes when you're dealing with young guys, they feed off the success or failure of each other."
In the final minutes, each team did its share to give the game to the other.
Alabama missed free throw opportunities to put the game out of reach, and committed an unforced turnover with 1.3 seconds left to give LSU a final, desperation possession. For their part, the Tigers, in the final 58 seconds, passed on a size advantage with Johnny O'Bryant (game-high 22 points) with UA center Moussa Gueye fouled out, and instead settled for three 3-point attempts to give Alabama three crucial stops on low-percentage shots.
"I would have liked to have seen him get a few more clean looks. I thought he had some plays at the basket, but it was a very physical basketball game," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "Unfortunately, it was tough for him to finish in there. He got off 17 shots tonight, and that's a good number for him."
Grant apparently knew LSU (13-8, 4-6 Southeastern Conference) would keep the ball on the perimeter late, subbing Nick Jacobs out and defending O'Bryant with his only two healthy big men out of the game.
"We wanted to make sure we didn't give up a 3. I think it was a three-point game or a four-point game there," Grant said. "We felt like they were going to go with (guards Andre) Stringer and (Anthony) Hickey and (Charles) Carmouche. We felt like the 3-point line would be more critical."
While Alabama struggled at the free-throw line, Jacobs did not.
Jacobs converted 7 of 8, including both ends of a 1-and-1 chance in the second half, to help UA hold the lead. He finished with a team-high 15 points, blocked three shots and committed just one turnover.
"Nick was huge, especially in the second half. The ability to go to the line, step up there and make his free throws down the stretch," Grant said. "It was great to see Nick come in there, continue to battle and fight like he did."
Trevor Releford scored 12 for Alabama, while Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph added 10 each. UA outrebounded LSU 43-36, including a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounds.
The Crimson Tide (15-8, 7-3) plays at Georgia at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
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Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.