Griffen shines, No. 4 Alabama defeats LSU 79-69

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, Feb. 4, No. 4 Alabama defeated the Louisiana State University Tigers 79-69 in a tightly contested matchup that came down to the game’s final minutes.  

Leading the way for the Crimson Tide were Rylan Griffen and Nimari Burnett, who combined for 27 points in a masterful performance from the duo on the road. 

Burnett, a 6-foot-5 guard hailing from Chicago, Illinois, finished with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting, drilling 3-of-7 shots from beyond the arc, while grabbing three boards and dishing out three assists.  

After returning from a wrist injury on Jan. 21 versus the University of Missouri Tigers, the redshirt sophomore had struggled to find a groove on both ends of the floor. That has changed as of late, as Burnett has poured in double-digit points in back-to-back games for only the second time in his career after scoring 16 points versus Vanderbilt on Tuesday.  

Griffen, a 6-foot-5 guard from Richardson, Texas, finished with an efficient 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, nailing 4-of-5 shots from downtown while grabbing a pair of rebounds in 16 minutes. 

“Freshman year, I had to get used to it, but I feel like I’m used to it by now,” Griffen said. “I’m getting a lot more confident.” 

After scoring 12 points of his own last time out versus the Commodores, the freshman guard continues is continuing his hot streak, scoring double-digits in three consecutive games off the bench after posting 15 points during the Crimson Tide’s upset loss to the University of Oklahoma on Jan. 28.  

“It’s been huge, we’ve needed scoring,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said in regard to the duo’s recent play. “Those two guys are proven shot makers who are stepping up in games for us now.” 

Joining Burnett and Griffen with solid a performance in the backcourt was Mark Sears, who scored 13 points on 3-for-8 shooting, with all three makes from the field coming from three-point land.  

Manning the frontcourt for the Crimson Tide was freshman forward Noah Clowney, who scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, draining 2-for-4 shots from deep while adding six rebounds and three blocks.  

“He’s been great for us,” Oats said. “I thought he was really good defensively. He was good for us on offense for a stretch there too tonight.” 

It was quiet night for freshman sensation Brandon Miller, who scored a mere 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. While the SEC freshman of the year frontrunner couldn’t get things going offensively, the 6-foot-9 forward still managed to post a double-double with 10 rebounds winning the team’s hard hat award. 

While the Crimson Tide escaped with a victory, the fourth-year head coach knows there’s plenty to improve upon as his fourth-ranked squad marches through SEC play.  

“I was a little disappointed with the effort to be honest with you,” Oats said. “I mean, we got outrebounded by five. We’ve got to do a better job, we’ve got to find a group of guys that’s going to play hard no matter what, we can’t be up and down every other game. We’re not going to be able to do that and get wins moving forward. We’ve got Florida, Auburn and Tennessee two of those being on the road. We’ve got to play well in all three of those games coming up, if we play like this we’re not going to win.” 

Tipoff for No. 4 Alabama versus Florida in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2.