Defense Keys Tide Win Over Gamecocks

Alabama's offense was no better than so-so, including having no three-point shots. The ball-handling was no better than average, including 16 turnovers. Ah, but the defense. Coaches preach that defense can be the constant, that a team can win with good defense even when the offense is lacking.

Alabama's 57-47 win over South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference home opener for the Crimson Tide Wednesday night is an example of winning on defense. The Tide held the Gamecocks to only 28.6 per cent shooting from the field, the best showing by a Bama defense in perhaps a decade.

Alabama's fifth consecutive win lifted Bama to a 10-6 record, including a 2-0 SEC mark. It is the first time since the SEC championship season, 2002, the Crimson Tide won its first two conference games. Alabama continued unbeaten in Coleman Coliseum this year. The Tide is 9-0 at home. South Carolina fell to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in SEC play.

Alabama goes to Arkansas (11-4 overall, 1-1 in SEC play after losing at LSU Wednesday night) for a 12:30 CST game that will be televised on the SEC Network and ESPN3.

South Carolina had little luck against the Bama defense in the first half, hitting just 8-27 from the field for 29.6 per cent. It got worse for the visitors in the second half as South Carolina made only 8-29 for 27.6 per cent.

JaMychal Green scored the first six points of the game and finished with a game-high 20 points. He added nine rebounds. But Green said he was proudest of his defense. He held South Carolina's fine forward, Sam Muldrow, to 1-11 from the field and only four points. Muldrow did win the battle of blocked shots, turning in six to Green's three, and Muldrow equaled Green with nine rebounds.

Bama had only one other player in double figures. Tony Mitchell gave the Tide 38 minutes and scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Alabama had a modest 41-36 rebounding advantage.

Bama shot only 23-53 from the floor for 43.4 per cent, not great but scorching compared to South Carolina.

And while Alabama had a disappointing 16 turnovers, the Tide forced 20 miscues by the Gamecocks.

Alabama had as much as an eight-point lead in the first half and led 26-21 at halftime. The Gamecocks had their only lead of the night at 19-18. Bama regained the lead when Ben Eblen made a nice steal and pass to Mitchell for a thunderous dunk.

Senario Hillman had key field goals and free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Alabama attempted only three three-point shots and did not make one. South Carolina Coach Darrin Horn said stopping Bama's Charvez Davis, the Tide's best outside threat, was a point of emphasis. Horn added that Alabama "was a more physical team."

Crimson Tide Coach Anthony Grant said, "With us, it starts on the defensive end. I thought our guys played outstanding defense in both halves."

Grant was also pleased with the crowd of 11,572, saying "It was a great atmosphere with a lot of energy."

Alabama outscored South Carolina by 40-18 in the paint and by 18-6 off turnovers.

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