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Alabama Loses Heart Breaker in Third Overtime

It’s the game that would not end in Baton Rouge. Throughout the season, Alabama and LSU have had very similar styles with playing defense first and then worrying about points on the board. It was a game that meant more to Alabama than LSU in terms of being a bubble team and NCAA tournament play but more importantly by remaining in contention for the SEC title. Both teams fought very hard and the Crimson Tide led by 10 points with 3:39 left, but couldn’t score a point or get a rebound when needed to close out the game.

Junior guard Trevor Releford led both teams with a career-high 36 points but it wasn’t enough as the Crimson Tide (18-9, 10-4 SEC) lost to LSU 97-94 in triple overtime. It came into the game one game behind first-place Florida in the Southeastern Conference and with the loss will need some help to make that up down the stretch.

UA starting lineup is the same for the 10th straight game: Lacey, Releford, Gueye, Randolph & Cooper. The first half featured 13 lead changes & three ties. Alabama shot 46.4% from the floor & 40% from three point range.  LSU lead for most of the half but in the last six minutes Alabama took control thanks to Trevor Releford’s 14 points and steals. Andrew Steele hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, giving Alabama 36-31 halftime lead!

The second half saw much of the same play as the first but Alabama remained in control until the last minute of the game where LSU tied it up.  Trevor Releford continued his dominating play and takes the top spot as the all-time steals leader at Alabama with 177!  With just under three minutes remaining in the game Alabama started attempting more three’s than they usually do instead of running the clock.  With the missed baskets and unable to get the rebounds the Tigers were able to tie up the game on a 10-0 run and send the game into overtime.  Gueye and Randolph fouled out in the last few minutes of the half and were not able to contribute in overtime.

At the end of the first overtime Cooper tipped the ball into the basket as the buzzer went off and it was as though the Tide held on for the win.  But with official review the shot was called off because the ball was still in Coopers hands as the lights around the backboard went off.

The second overtime started out the same as LSU scores first and gets out to a 5 point lead.  Alabama’s Releford is fouled as he drives to the basket for the score and with the combined points ties it up.  LSU responds with another 3 with just over a min. Alabama drives back down the floor and Cooper, who finished with 18 points, made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 15.9 seconds left and tied it at 88-88.  LSU missed a couple of last-attempt shots and the game was sent into the third overtime.

Jacobs started out the third overtime very strong by drawing a foul to get the ball as well as tipping in the ball for a basket to get the lead for the first time since regulation play. LSU makes some shots to go up by four with a min remaining in third overtime.  Releford scored with a drive in the lane to make it 94-92, and he was fouled, but misses the free throw.  LSU’s O’Bryant who was fouled by Cooper made two free throws to seal the victory for LSU.

Releford finished with 36 pts on 14-18 shooting. Cooper with 18 pts and 9 rebs. Releford’s 36 was the most by an Alabama player since Alonzo Gee scored 32 vs. Florida on Jan. 8, 2008. Releford also had three steals, which makes him Alabama’s all-time steals leader with 178 for his career.

Alabama returns home to take on in-state rival Aubun this coming Tuesday (Feb. 26). The game will be televised on ESPNU with tipoff set for 6 p.m.

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