The second half usually belongs to the LSU basketball team — especially on its home floor.
But Wednesday night, the Southeastern Conference’s second-best shooting team was upstaged by the league’s lowest-scoring team when Alabama came out firing in the second half in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Alabama seemingly couldn’t miss and LSU couldn’t hit — from the field or the free-throw line — and the Crimson Tide danced away with a 76-69 victory that knocked the Tigers out of a tie for first place in the league standings.
Alabama got a whopping 68 of its 76 points from guards Retin Obasohan, Justin Coleman and Arthur Edwards, including 41 in the decisive second half, as the Crimson Tide erased a five-point halftime deficit to pick up its fifth consecutive league win.
After dropping a 72-70 decision to LSU in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Jan. 23, Alabama (16-9, 7-6 SEC) gained a measure of revenge in coach Avery Johnson’s first game as a college head coach in his home state.
Johnson, a New Orleans native and former Southern University star, picked up the win over LSU (16-10, 9-4) when his team outscored the Tigers 45-33 in the second half — outshooting the home team 52.0 percent to 32.0 percent.
It was a bittersweet trip home for Johnson, however.
He enjoyed the win as much as he could knowing he would be traveling to Oklahoma City on Thursday to attend the funeral of Ingrid Williams, the wife of former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams. Ingrid Williams was killed in a car crash last week.
Obasohan, who missed two field-goal attempts in the closing seconds of the setback at Tuscaloosa, was the ringleader for Alabama when he made 11-of-18 from the floor for a career-high 35 points.
Obasohan, whose previous career high was 27 points, said he didn’t think about avenging the earlier defeat in the rematch with LSU.
“Like coach (Johnson) said, we just want to take every game for what it is,” he said. “We just wanted to come here with the belief that we could win. Our biggest thing was, regardless of what adversity we faced, or what the scoreboard says, we were going to keep that belief.”
Coleman, a reserve, and Edwards did most of their damage from beyond the 3-point line as LSU had no answer for an Alabama team that was last in the SEC with 67.5 points per game going into the contest.
Coleman, who was 5-of-8 from 3-point range, had 21 points and Edwards, who was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, added 12.
Alabama was 13-of-25 from the field for 52.0 percent in the second half, including 6-of-15 on 3-pointers.
“We hung in there and I felt good about where we were at halftime, only being down by five (points)” Johnson said. “Our energy wasn’t where it should have been and our concentration, but recently we’ve become a better second-half team — which blows my mind.”
LSU, on the other hand, had a miserable night shooting.
The Tigers, who were shooting 47.4 percent from the field for the season, hit just 38.6 percent for the game. They were 8-of-25 for 32.0 percent in the second half.
That wasn’t all.
LSU was 14-of-26 from the free-throw line in the second half for 53.8 percent and made just 20-of-35 shots from the charity stripe for 57.1 in the contest and the Tigers were outrebounded 39-34.
“You have to credit Alabama … they did a great job throughout, executing, making plays and knocking down shots,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “They did a great job defensively as well.
“We failed to execute in several areas, mainly at the free-throw line, and didn’t do a good job blocking out. We lost the war on the boards tonight, an area that’s really important to us.”
Craig Victor had a career-high 21 points for LSU in a losing effort, while Ben Simmons, who was just 10-of-19 from the free-throw line, had 20 to push his season total to 502 points.
Keith Hornsby was the only other Tiger in double figures with 18.
Obasahan single-handedly outscored LSU’s five guards by seven points.
While Hornsby had 18, Tim Quarterman (5), Antonio Blakeney (3) and Jalyn Patters (2) couldn’t find the mark. Josh Gray did not score.
Hornsby was 6-of-12 from the field, but the other four guards combined to connect on just 4-of-20 shots.
Meanwhile, Alabama was doing the job quite well.
After LSU took its biggest lead of the night at 46-38 on a 3-point basket by Quarterman at the 15:47 mark, Alabama went on a 10-1 run.
Obahosan started it with a 3-pointer and Coleman finished it with a four-point play when he made a 3 and was fouled and nailed another 3-point shot for a 48-47 lead — scoring all those points in 59 seconds.
LSU never had the lead again even though they tied it four times.
“We could have done a better job of containing him,” Jones said of Obasohan. “We have to stay down, stay in front. They made some big plays, hit a couple of big 3s. The 3s certainly hurt us.
“We failed to execute at the level we needed to (offensively). We missed a lot of shots around the rim. You can’t do that against a good basketball team.”
Hornsby was asked if they felt like they gave one away — especially after grabbing the eight-point cushion.
“In some ways yes, but they shot incredibly well,” he said. “That’s the only way I say we didn’t. We gave up too many offensive rebounds, missed free throws, things that hurt us.”