Defense shines as Bama downs Samford

Alabama used strong inside play and excellent defense to throttle Samford, 83-51, in the regional championship game of the Guardians Classic at Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night.

Alabama, ranked 24th in the nation, advances to the semifinals of the tournament next Wednesday against eighth-ranked Missouri, an 86-58 winner over Air Force Wednesday night. That game is expected to tip off about 9 p.m. CST. Also advancing to the semifinals at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, will be ninth-ranked Iowa and number 12 Memphis, which will open the tournament with tipoff at 6:30 p.m. CST next Wednesday. The four advancing teams all hosted regional tournaments.

Loyola-Marymount defeated Mississippi Valley State University in the consolation game.

Junior forward Erwin Dudley of Alabama was named the tournament's most valuable player. Dudley had 15 points and eight rebounds, both game high figures, in 23 minutes of play against Samford Wednesday night after scoring nine points and pulling down 10 rebounds in the opening game against Mississippi Valley.

Samford had hit 56 per cent of its field goals and suffered only 12 turnovers in advancing to the championship game with a win over Loyola-Marymount on Tuesday. Against Bama, the Bulldogs hit just 38.6 per cent and suffered 19 turnovers. Alabama opened up a 39-17 halftime lead by holding Samford to only 27.8 per cent shooting in the first half.

Alabama also dominated inside. The Tide out-rebounded Samford 40-23 and the Tide had 32 points in the paint to only 16 for the Bulldogs. < p>The Crimson Tide had five players in double figures. In addition to Dudley's 15 points, the Tide got 12 points from Kenny Walker, 11 each from Rod Grizzard and Demetrius Smith, and 10 from Antoine Pettway.

Alabama hit 51.6 per cent from the field, but was good on only 33 per cent of its three-point shots.

Bama freshman guard Mo Williams, who had dazzling performances in a couple of exhibition games and in the Tuesday win over Mississippi Valley, played like a freshman against Samford. Williams hit only two of six field goal attempts, including none of his three three-point tries, and made one of two free throws for only five points in 26 minutes of play. He had four assists, but also had four turnovers.

Samford had the lead in the early moments of the game, but the Tide took the lead for good at 10-8. Bama's margin would grow to 38 points, 78-40, late in the second half. The Bulldogs, for most of the game patiently working on offense for good shots that came only rarely, hit a flurry of three-point shots late to make the score less embarrassing.

Sebastian Sachse led Samford with 11 points, while Eddie Harper had 10.

Bama returns to Tuscaloosa November 26, hosting Utah in a game that will tip off at 6 p.m. CST and be nationally telecast by ESPN2.

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