Bama Wins With Late Run

Alabama had to use its best players f0r most of the game because the Crimson Tide didn't have its best game as Bama's 14th-ranked basketball team turned it on late to defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 76-54, in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night.

The win improved Alabama's record to 10-1. Bama will play next on Wednesday, December 29, at Wisconsin, a game that will be telecast by ESPN2. Bama returns to Tuscaloosa Saturday, January 1, against New Orleans.

Alabama opened up a 16-point lead, 47-31, early in the second half, but squandered that advantage with poor shooting and a brief lapse in rebounding, allowing the Islanders to close to within two points at 52-50 with just over nine minutes to play. In those final nine minutes the visitors scored only two free throws until making an uncontested dunk at the final buzzer.

Kennedy Winston scored nine of his game-high 24 points in those final nine minutes. He also had key rebounds in that stretch. And he finished with a double-double, 12 rebounds to go with his two dozen points.

"I thought Kennedy Winston was the difference in the game," said Tide Coach Mark Gottfried. "He made some shots, he got offensive rebounds and scored, and he got a couple of key defensive rebounds."

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Coach Ronnie Arrow thought that rebounding was the difference in the game. Bama pulled down 45 rebounds to only 29 for the Islanders. Bama had 15 offensive rebounds, the visitors only five.

The rebounding advantage led to Bama scoring 15 second chance points to Corpus Christi's 7. Alabama dominated inside with 26 points in the paint, 10 more than the Islanders. Alabama scored 18 points off the Islanders 15 turnovers, while the visitors got 11 points from the Tide's 10 turnovers.

Alabama might have scored an easier victory except that Bama had so much trouble scoring. Even though the Tide was able to work for open shots, Alabama hit only 45 per cent from the field. It was from three-point range that Alabama was particularly poor, hitting only 8 of 27 shots, 29.6 per cent. And the Tide also had a lackluster night shooting free throws, hitting only 14 of 24 for 58.3 per cent.

"My friends ask me why we play a team like Corpus Christi that is good, but doesn't really have a good name," Gottfried said. "The reason is because it makes us better. We beat a well-coached, athletic team."

Gottfried said that Alabama's shooting woes were not because of poor shots. "We got open shots," he said. "We're not going to turn down those three-point shots down."

Earnest Shelton, particularly struggled. He hit only 4-11 three-pointers, but managed 19 points. The only other Tider in double figures was Chuck Davis with 10 points.

The game was Corpus Christi's fifth straight on the road. The Islanders went 4-1 in those games and is now 7-2 on the year. Aaron White had 13 points and Thomas Bailey 11 for the visitors.

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