Tide D Good Enough for Win

It was not easy and it surely was not pretty, but the Tide's 60-55 win at Auburn's Beard-Eves Memorial Coliseum Wednesday night counts exactly the same as its 49-point dismantling of Mississippi State that Bama fans were still celebrating this time last week.

Alabama improved to 16-4 overall and 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference while Auburn fell to 9-9 overall, and winless in five SEC games.

In the past, being on the road in the SEC has meant misfortune for Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried. For that reason many Alabama fans (and perhaps players and coaches) had that here-we-go-again feeling when the Tigers went on a 17-6 second-half run to pull within a point of the lead, 53-52, when two Tide turnovers led to easy Auburn baskets with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

Auburn never had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the second half, however, as Bama forward Chuck Davis was fouled and hit two free throws on Bama's next possession giving the Tide a 55-52 advantage. The Tide followed up with two defensive stops and a Davis basket, extending the lead to 57-52 with just over a minute to play. Alabama made enough free throws in the final minute to put the game away.

The 2004-05 Tide squad has buried that road woes jinx for the time being, winning three of four league road games thus far. The Tide's only loss in conference play was in the league-opener at Vanderbilt.

"On a night were we didn't play very well offensively, we get a win on the road and I'm proud of that. I'm really proud of our guys. We didn't play very well at all on the offensive end but I thought that on the defensive end we were very good," Gottfried said.

"We've been able to go on the road and win, and we hope to continue to go on road and win. But the thing to remember is if you want to compete for championships you've got to win games like this."

The on-again, off-again bench contribution was off again Wednesday night. Alabama's starters scored all 60 of Alabama's points, led by Earnest Shelton's 22-point performance.

Kennedy Winston with 16 and Chuck Davis with 10 were the only other Tide players in double figures. Jermareo Davidson scored six points and racked up 14 rebounds, while Ron Steele finished with six points and five assists (against two turnovers). Al Weber, Evan Brock, Jean Felix and Justin Jonus all played for Bama but did not score.

Nathan Watson led Auburn with 13 points, while the SEC's leading scorer entering the game, Toney Douglas, was limited to nine.

Alabama outrebounded Auburn 37-33, and both teams shot below 40 per cent from the field. Alabama was 18-of-46 for 39.1 per cent; Auburn 22-of-60 for 36.7 per cent. Another key to Alabama's success, limiting the Tigers to 4-of-17 (23.5 per cent) from behind the three-point arc, while hitting 11-of-22 from three-point range (50 per cent).

Alabama returns home to host Georgia Saturday evening at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Network.


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