Sidelines with John Clay

SEC basketball: Alabama continues its Roll Tide

Alabama guard Retin Obasohan (32) drives past LSU guard Antonio Blakeney during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. Alabama won 76-69.
Alabama guard Retin Obasohan (32) drives past LSU guard Antonio Blakeney during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. Alabama won 76-69. The Associated Press

Out of nowhere, here comes the Crimson Tide.

Alabama won its fifth straight game Wednesday night, knocking LSU out of a first-place tie in the SEC thanks to a surprise 76-69 victory at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.

Retin Obasohan scored a career-high 35 points as coach Avery Johnson’s team continued its surge, adding LSU to a list that now includes Mississippi State (road), Missouri, Texas A&M and Florida (road).

Obasohan hit 11 of 18 shots from the floor and was a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line to top his previous career-high of 27 points. Justin Coleman popped off the bench to score 21 points and dish five assists for Bama, now 16-9 overall and 7-6 in the league.

LSU lost it at the free throw line. The Tigers were just 20-of-35 at the stripe for the game, including 14-of-25 in the second half. Ben Simmons scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Tigers, but made just 10 of 19 free throws. Meanwhile, Alabama was 15-of-18 from the line.

SEC basketball results, schedules and leaders in a spreadsheet

Wednesday was pretty much par for the course for the Tigers. Every time you think Johnny Jones’ team is about to gain consistency, the Tigers suffer a setback. LSU hasn’t won more than two straight games in conference play all season. It had a two-game win streak broken with a 94-83 loss at LSU last week, then bounced back to beat Texas A&M at the PMAC on Saturday to gain a first-place tie with Kentucky. Then came Wednesday’s loss.

Here’s Ron Higgins of NOLA.com: “LSU (16-10 overall, 9-4 in the SEC) followed its usual league loss formula – embarrassing free throw shooting (20-of-35, 57.1 percent), disorganized offense that looked straight out of a YMCA pickup game (22-of-57 field goals, 38.6 percent) and Charmin-soft defense that couldn't stay in front of Alabama guard Retin Obasohan as he scored a career-high 35 points.”

Alabama is the hottest team in the league. Johnson has the Tide playing with confidence, especially Obasohan and Riley Norris, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds on Wednesday. The Tide outrebounded LSU 39-34 for the game. Trailing by five at the half, Alabama shot 52 percent and outscored LSU by 12 points over the final 20 minutes

It was a bittersweet homecoming for Johnson, a New Orleans native, who was to attend the funeral for the wife of former Pelicans and head coach and Oklahoma City Thunder assistant Monty Williams, who died in a car crash. Johnson and Williams are long-time friends.

Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa to play Mississippi State on Saturday before traveling to Lexington to face Kentucky next Tuesday. After home games against Auburn and a reeling Arkansas, the Tide finish the regular season at Georgia on March 5.

In his Monday bracket, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Alabama as the first team listed in his “first four out” but the Tide now look like a team that could play its way into the field of 68. (Note: Lunardi tweeted that he will update bracket later Thursday.)

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

W

L

W

L

Kentucky

9

3

19

6

LSU

9

4

16

10

South Carolina

8

5

21

5

Texas A&M

8

5

19

7

Florida

8

5

17

9

Alabama

7

6

16

9

Georgia

7

6

16

10

Vanderbilt

7

6

15

11

Ole Miss

6

7

16

10

Tennessee

5

7

12

13

Arkansas

5

8

12

14

Miss State

4

9

11

4

Auburn

4

9

10

15

Missouri

3

10

10

16

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