TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Coach Avery Johnson applauded Alabama’s performance all around even if the New Orleans native wasn’t quite prepared to break out in a Mardi Gras-style celebration.
Riley Norris and Ar’Mond Davis paced the Crimson Tide to a big halftime lead and `Bama beat struggling LSU 90-72 without really getting challenged on Saturday. Johnson called it ”probably one of our most complete performances, especially in SEC play.”
”We weren’t perfect obviously,” he said. ”There’s no Mardi Gras parade, because Mardi Gras is going on right now. But they should be commended for their effort on both ends of the floor.”
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The Tide (16-10, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) matched the team’s season-high in points and built a 19-point halftime lead up to 26 after Norris and Davis had already done most of their damage.
The Tigers (9-17, 1-13) dropped their 13th consecutive game despite a 28-point game from Antonio Blakeney.
Norris, who had 17 points, made four 3-pointers and Davis three in the first half, when he scored 13 of his 15 points. Both had just one field goal after that with Alabama firmly in control. It was the first time the Tide had scored 90 points in regulation against an SEC opponent in nearly eight years.
Bola Olaniyan had 11 points and 16 rebounds, both season-highs, for the Tide. Braxton Key added 11 points and seven assists while Jimmie Taylor also scored 11.
After scoring just 18 first-half points against Missouri, Alabama was off to the races early. The Tide built a 51-32 halftime lead after hitting nine 3-pointers.
”We know that if we come out with the right intensity, then we can feed off of it the rest of the game,” Norris said.
Blakeney scored nine of LSU’s first 11 points and 19 in the second half. He was 9-of-14 shooting and didn’t commit a turnover but coach Johnny Jones benched him for the final 12-plus minutes before halftime.
”I didn’t think he was as engaged and playing as hard or as aggressive as he needed to be out there for us to give us a chance,” Jones said. ”We wanted to make sure we addressed it at halftime and wanted to give him another opportunity.
”I thought he came back out and was a lot more aggressive and engaged for us out there in the second half. I thought he played much better in the second half.”
Duop Reath scored 12 points for LSU and Brandon Sampson had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
LSU had played Kentucky and Arkansas close before losing by 20 to Mississippi and failing to be competitive against the Tide. Blakeney has averaged 27 points over the last four games for LSU.
Alabama swept the regular season series for the first time since 2010-11. The Tide topped last season’s SEC win total and has won three of four games. The game was announced as the Tide’s fourth consecutive sellout, though there were a number of empty seats. Norris had produced his season-high of 20 points in the first meeting against LSU. The Tide had 20 assists and committed just 10 turnovers.
Johnson shifted the team’s routine before the game, taking them to a hotel for the night right after Friday’s practice. He said he’ll keep doing that.
Alabama announced the indefinite suspension of forward Shannon Hale about 10 minutes before tipoff. Hale is averaging 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds. He has only started one game this season after logging 47 starts over the past three seasons.
”For the rest of the regular season, he will not be back,” Johnson said. ”We will reevaluate his situation March 5.”
LSU hosts Auburn Tuesday night, having lost the first meeting 78-74 on Jan. 18.
Alabama hosts Georgia Thursday night, its first time since early January to have two straight home games.