Asked afterwards if he would continue his early-morning practice schedule, Gottfried wasn’t making any promises one way or another. “We’ll look at that,” he said. “We’ll see.”
“I feel good about this win,” Gottfried continued. “When you haven’t won in a couple of games, it’s good. We played with emotion and aggression. I thought we went after it pretty hard on both ends.”
The win improved Alabama’s record to 13-5 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference games. The victory ended the Tide's three game skid and marked Alabama's fifth consecutive win against LSU. Alabama is on the road the next two games, facing Arkansas in Fayetteville at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday, then going to fourth-ranked Florida at noon CST next Saturday for a nationally-televised (CBS) contest. Alabama defeated Arkansas, 61-51, in a game played in Tuscaloosa earlier this season.
Saturday’s game marked the first significant action in a year and a half for Bama freshman Lucky Williams. Williams, a 6-6 wing player who was redshirted last year then had to sit out the first 14 games of this season for an extra benefits violation, was an important part of the Bama victory. Although he scored just six points, he played good defense in his 24 minutes of play. (That 24 minutes was more playing time than any of three starters -- Emmett Thomas with 21 minutes, Kenny Walker with 22 minutes or Terrance Meade with 19 minutes.).
“I feel good about what I achieved in practice,” Lucky Williams said after the game. “The extra work was a great thing for me. The coaches wanted me to play good defense, and I went in and played good defense. I didn’t care about how much I scored. I was just doing what the coaches wanted me to do.”
Although he did not have a great shooting night from the field, Mo Williams led the Tide with 27 points. Williams finished the game with 8-of-23 shooting, including only 2-of-11 on three-point shots. But he did connect on all nine of his free throw attempts. In the first half he had made only two-of-11 shots, including missing all five of his three-point attempts. Williams also had six rebounds and five assists.
“In past games I didn’t think I needed to force up any shots,” Mo Williams said, explaining his more aggressive shot selection. “In order for us to win games I figured I have to play good. We weren’t shooting a high percentage, so we needed to take our open shots and cut down on turnovers.”
Kenny Walker had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Erwin Dudley, who is usually Alabama’s double-double man, made it in points with 14, but just missed with nine rebounds.
“I think this game was good for our team chemistry,” Walker said. “As far as our defensive aggressiveness, I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
"Mo Williams, I thought, stepped up and made some big-time plays," Gottfried said. "I was really proud of Kenny Walker. I thought he played aggressive around the basket. He's playing hard and that's all you can ask."
“This was kind of a ‘must win’ for us,” Dudley added. “We worked so hard in practice this week. We tried to get back to the basics. Practicing at 5:45 ain’t easy. We worked hard and tried to concentrate more.”
LSU opened the game with a 5-0 lead, but Bama took the lead for good at 8-7. The Tide led by as many as 12 points in the first half, and held a 34-28 lead at intermission. Alabama stretched that lead to as many as 18 points in the second half, but LSU had a flurry of three-point successes that cut the Tide lead to as few as seven points late in the game.
“I was proud of our team the last 10 or 12 minutes,” said LSU Head Coach John Brady. “I thought the inability of our ones and twos to not stay between their man and the goal and allow dribble penetration and easy baskets was the difference in the game. We don’t guard the other team’s ones and twos very well.”
Alabama had a slight rebounding lead, 41-39. The Tide committed only seven turnovers, while LSU had 15 miscues.
Alabama shot 40.6 percent from the field, but only 18.2 per cent (four-of-22) on three-point shots. The Tide nailed 19 of 26 free throws (73.1 percent) and foul shots provided the margin of victory. Both teams made 56 points on field goals. LSU shot 41.7 per cent from the field and hit six-of-22 three-pointers (27.3 percent). The Tigers made 10-of-14 free throws (71.4 percent).