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LSU Comes Up Short in SEC Championship, Loses 80-79 to Alabama

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So close but so far

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Lousiana State vs Alabama Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

LSU played an epic, exhilarating, insane, instant classic game in the SEC Tournament championship round that, unfortunately for the Tigers, resulted in a heartbreaking 80-79 loss to Alabama.

Tiger forward and Alabama native Trendon Watford played the best game of his LSU career, scoring a career-high 30 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. But Watford needed 32 or 33 points to give LSU its first SEC Tournament title since 1980, instead he and teammate Aundre Hyatt’s attempts at a game winning shot at the buzzer came up agonizingly short.

LSU fell to Alabama for the third time this season, but this was by far and away its best effort. The Tigers and Tide traded blows all game long and neither team built a double digit lead. Alabama got an early jump on LSU, scoring the game’s first eight points and forcing an early Will Wade timeout.

But LSU rebounded thanks in large part to Cameron Thomas hitting some long range three-pointers. From that point on a heavyweight bout was raged inside Bridgestone Arena.

In the second half neither team would lead by more than two possessions. LSU even overcame a five-point deficit with 2:31 to play thanks to back-to-back three pointers by Javonte Smart. But Alabama, now the champions of both the SEC regular season and conference tournament, answered every single LSU run with a run of its own and Herb Jones, the conference’s player and defensive player of the year, hit what would be the game-winning fastbreak layup with 19 seconds to play.

The problems that LSU’s had all season long showed once again on Sunday. LSU got out-rebounded 50-43 and struggled keeping Alabama off the offensive glass, surrendering 19 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points.

The LSU bench was also, once again, a virtual non-factor as Josh LeBlanc and Eric Gaines combined for zero points compared to Alabama’s 28. LSU essentially played three against eight as Darius Days struggled to score. Days was able to grab a team-leading 12 rebounds, but could only muster two points on 1-6 shooting.

While LSU came up short today, it was an encouraging performance by Will Wade’s squad. This Alabama team has blown out LSU twice already, has a legit argument to be an NCAA Tournament 1-seed and jumped on top of LSU early today.

But LSU didn’t waver. They played one of the five to seven best teams in America to the very end and would’ve pulled off the upset but for an unfortunate bounce of the ball.

LSU will find out its NCAA Tournament fate in about two hours. Remember, the entire NCAA Tournament will be in Indianapolis this year so the question isn’t where will LSU play. All that’s left to see is which side of the bracket the Tigers will be on, what seed LSU earned and who they’ll open against.