Alabama Wins SEC Opener

The Alabama men's basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked 18th in the nation, didn't do anything that looked like a winning basketball team Saturday, but somehow the Crimson Tide emerged with a 76-74 victory over LSU in Coleman Coliseum in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Bama trailed for almost the entire game, but took its only lead of the second half when Terrance Meade made two free throws with 1.3 seconds to play. LSU's desperation shot to win was just off the mark.

Alabama, which has been considered the favorite to win the SEC Western Division, is now 13-2 overall and 1-0 in league play. The Tide continues at home, hosting Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Bama had the lead for a total of only about four minutes in the 40-minute game. Bama threatened to pull away with a nine-point run in the first half, but then the Tigers went on a 12-point run to take a lead it would hold until Meade hit a shot from the top of the circle with just over 30 seconds to play, tying the game at 74. That shot was one of two Meade made in the second half that appeared to be three-pointers, but were ruled to be only two-point shots.

In the final hectic seconds Meade was trying to throw up a shot and was fouled, eaning three free throws. He made two of them for the margin of victory. Meade finished with 12 points.

Rod Grizzard did not have a good shooting game from the field, hitting only four of 11 shots and only one of six three-point shots. However, Gottfried noted that Grizzard became more aggressive in the second half. As a result, he earned 12 free throw opportunities and made 10 of them, giving him 19 points. Erwin Dudley had a double-double, as he often does, getting 15 points and 11 rebounds. Dudley did not have a good day from the free throw line, hitting only three of seven, but made two in Bama's comeback stretch.

Freshman point guard Mo Williams had a huge steal and layup in the final stretch run to pull the Tide to within two points at 72-70. With 4:03 to play LSU had taken an eight-point lead at 72-64. Williams finished with 11 points. Travis Stinnett was the Tide's fifth player in double figures as he came off the bench to contribute 10 points.

Alabama had a slight rebounding advantage, 32-28, and as a result had 19 second chance points to nine for LSU.

LSU shot better from the field and made more field goals and more three-point shots. The Tigers shot 53 per cent from the field, hitting 27-of 51-shots, including nine-of-18 from three-point range. Bama hit only 25-of-53 field goal attempts, 47 per cent, and only six-of-20 three-pointers. However, Alabama had 14 more free throw opportunities. Alabama hit 20-of-29 foul shots, LSU only 11-of-15.

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