February 18, 2011 8:31:00 AM
BATON ROUGE, La. -- A terrible start on the road against a Southeastern Conference rival is no longer enough to rattle JaMychal Green and his University of Alabama men''s basketball teammates.
Green had 18 points and Alabama beat LSU 67-56 on Thursday night, giving the Crimson Tide 12 wins in 14 games while extending the Tigers'' losing streak to nine.
"We never got frustrated," Green said of Alabama''s 0-for-9 start from the field. "I knew deep down when the second half came we were going to make a run and finish the game out."
The victory meant that for the first time in five seasons, Alabama (17-8, 9-2 SEC) will have a winning conference record. The Crimson Tide also can clinch the Western Division on Saturday with a victory at home against Arkansas.
Although LSU (10-16, 2-9) hasn''t won since beating Arkansas on Jan. 12, Alabama coach Anthony Grant wasn''t about to criticize his players for failing to deliver the type of blowout they posted in a 70-46 victory against the Tigers earlier this season in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"Any road win is a good win," Grant said. "LSU came out with great energy and give them credit. I thought they came out and they hit first tonight ... and kind of knocked us back a little bit, but I thought our guys responded well."
Trevor Releford had 15 points for Alabama, finally sending LSU fans to the exits with his driving floater as he was fouled that put the Tide ahead 65-56 with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left. Tony Mitchell added 13 points, snapping his string of four-straight games with 20 or more. His most notable play was a missed one-handed jam attempt that bounced off the rim so hard it went out of bounds near the Alabama bench on the fly.
Mitchell was flexing his right hand afterward but remained in the game.
"It wasn''t one of our better games," Grant said. "We turned the ball over unnecessarily and tried to make some plays that weren''t there, but you have to be proud of your guys that they found the resolve to come away with the win."
Ralston Turner scored 17 points and Malcolm White 14 for LSU, which stayed close most of the game but was done in by 10 missed free throws and 17 turnovers that the Tide converted into 30 points. Garrett Green added 10 points for the Tigers.
"For the most part, it was turnovers," LSU coach Trent Johnson said. "Some of them were unforced and some of them was the constant pressure tending to wear on you. The positives were I felt Ralston did a good job of keeping us into things."
Andrew Steele scored 10 points for Alabama, which outscored LSU 32-26 inside and has now outscored all 25 of its opponents in the paint this season. The Tide also lowered its already impressive scoring defense average of 58.4 points.
Alabama now needs only one win in its final five regular season games to top last season''s win total of 17.
What wound up being Alabama''s 100th all-time win over LSU looked like anything but a slam dunk early on. A little more than 6 minutes into the game, Alabama was shooting 10 percent (1 for 10) with three turnovers.
That allowed LSU to jump out to a 9-2 lead, with Turner scoring seven of those points.
LSU led 20-12 on Chris Bass'' weaving, end-to-end dribble for a layup, but that was as big as the Tigers'' lead would get.
JaMychal Green dunked twice, once as he was fouled, then stole the ball from Andre Stringer and went the other way for a fast-break layup during a 9-2 run that pulled the Tide to 22-21.
"I knew coming in it was going to be a physical game," said Green, who was assessed a technical foul for a scuffle with White in the teams'' previous meeting. "I just had to keep my head and just keep playing on the defensive end."
The Tigers managed to hold the lead until Releford hit a pair of driving floaters and Steele drained a 3-pointer during a 7-0 spurt that put the Tide in front 28-26 with 4:44 left in the half.
Alabama then closed the half with a 36-31 lead when Chris Hines scored as he was fouled in the final seconds.
The Tide had its first double-digit lead when Mitchell''s driving floater in the lane made it 44-34, but LSU responded with a 7-0 run highlighted by Turner''s 3-pointer and Aaron Dotson''s driving layup as he was fouled. LSU later got as close as 50-48 when Stringer was fouled attempting a 3 and hit all three free throws.
JaMychal Green then hit a jump hook and Mitchell followed with a 3-pointer to push Alabama''s lead back to 55-48, and the closest LSU got after that was 60-56 when Matt Derenbecker hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:01 to go.
1. New Hope boys shock Oxford for region title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU baseball gives Cannizaro first career victory COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Tupelo squads sweep Columbus for pair of region titles HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. No. 3 MSU women face huge test at Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Area basketball teams begin postseason play Monday HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS