It certainly didn't start out like a classic. With three minutes left in regulation, it seemed like Alabama had the game wrapped up. They were up 69-59 after an unbelievable shooting performance from Trevor Releford, who was 11-12 from the field, while LSU looked lifeless. After a strong finish to the first half, Alabama continued to hold onto a comfortable lead
Then, the Tigers suddenly came to life. LSU erased the ten point deficit in a little over two minutes and even had a chance to win in regulation, before Johnny O'Bryant's fadeaway jumper feel short. They crashed the boards on offense, setting up multiple second chance points. They played aggressively on offense, getting to the free throw line (and actually making the free throws), and Anthony Hickey stole the ball from Trevor Lacey on an inbounds pass before calling a timeout. It was some of the best basketball LSU has played all season, if not since the 2008-09 season.
And LSU didn't let up after regulation. For the next 15 minutes, they continued to execute at a high level on both sides of the ball. The Tigers were undoubtedly tired; after all, Charles Carmouche and Johnny O'Bryant both played more than 50 minutes, while Anthony Hickey played 42. However, they continued to win the battle of the boards. By game's end, LSU had out-rebounded Alabama 43 to 30, with a 13-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
While JOB III was yet again a key factor for this performance, pulling down 10 rebounds and finishing the game with 24 points, LSU was actually led by Charles Carmouche, who played his finest game as a Tiger, posting 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists, while playing every moment until he fouled out with five seconds to go. However, his final foul (he hand-checked a driving Trevor Releford, while LSU held a 4 point lead) was one of the most mind-boggling mistakes I have seen all season, and it gave Alabama a chance to send the game to a 4th overtime, after Releford hit both of his free throws and Shavon Coleman only made one of two.
Fortunately, the Tide couldn't get a final shot off, and the Tigers prevailed 97-94.
However, there were some very tense moments during in all of the overtime sessions. At the end of the first overtime, it looked like Alabama's Rodney Cooper had won the game on a last second putback. However, while the Crimson Tide players were celebrating at mid-court, the officials reviewed the call and determined that the shot was taken after time ran out. In the second overtime, Malik Morgan missed a three pointer that could have ended the game.
For the second straight game, an opposing guard had the game of his life against the Tigers. Following Jordan McRae's unbelievable performance, Trevor Releford went for a career-high 36 points, hitting 14 of 18 shots from the field, all while playing 50 minutes. However, this time around, LSU proved their resiliency and toughness against an Alabama squad that was looking to play themselves into the NCAA Tournament.
The Tide took a step back and are now 18-9, but still boast an impressive 10-4 conference record. Meanwhile, LSU is 16-9 and an even 7-7 in the SEC. Next up is a showdown against Arkansas on Wednesday in the PMAC.