In Alabama's opening game, a nine-point loss to nationally-ranked Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden in New York, most of the attention was on young Crimson Tide players. The young players continue to be a major part of the team, but Friday night it was sophomore Kennedy Winston, one of the most veteran of Tide regulars, who had the big night. Winston, who had off-season knee surgery and has been slow to come around, tossed in 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead Alabama. Fellow sophomore Chuck Davis, who had far less experience than Winston in 2002-03, had his second double figures outing with 10 points, and pulled down 11 rebounds. No other Alabama player scored in double figures, but true freshman Jermareo Davidson had a good game off the bench with nine points and seven rebounds.
Mark Gottfried, starting his sixth season as head coach of his alma mater, is now 100-62 at Alabama and 168-87 in including his three years as head coach at Murray State.
Alabama returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday hosting Southeastern Louisiana.
Bama fell behind early in the game, trailing 15-4. The Tide had an atrocious shooting night hitting only 33 per cent of its field goals, 19 of 57. And most of those shots, as Gottfried pointed out, were from close in.
Louisiana Tech, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, had six more field goals than Alabama and two moe three-point shots, outscoring the Tide 57-43 from the field. But Bama was good on 26 of 32 free throws (81.3 per cent) to only six of 12 for the visitors. The Bulldogs hit 44.6 per cent from the field.
Both teams had 38 rebounds. Alabama had only 12 turnovers while forcing 19 miscues by Louisiana Tech. The Tide outscored the Bulldogs 26-10 on points made off turnovers.
Alabama finally took the lead for the first time at 23-22 with only 5:18 remaining in the first half. Bama took the lead for good at 29-27 with 2:45 remaining in the opening half and when Winston scored with 18 seconds before intermission, Bama was able to take a 35-29 lead to halftime.
Although the game was never tied and Louisiana Tech never led in the second half, Alabama was never able to really put the game away until the final moments. Bama's biggest lead in the game was eight points midway through the second half and the visitors cut the lead to one a couple of times in the final minute. Antoine Pettway made three foul shots and Winston made four in the final minute to preserve the win.