Tide tops Tigers in Baton Rouge

After soaring offensively to score 109 points in their last game, a home win over Arkansas, the Tide managed only 57 points Saturday night in Baton Rouge. But that was good enough for a nine-point victory, as Bama downed LSU 57-49.

The win raises Alabama's record to 19-3 overall, 7-1 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU drops to 12-9, 2-6 in conference. And Gottfried's once hapless road team has now taken three straight conference games away from Tuscaloosa.

"It was not a pretty game," Tide Head Coach Mark Gottfried said afterwards. "I didn't think we played very well at all. But the good news is that we have progressed enough to where we can play like this and win in somebody else's building.

"Which is a long way from where we've been in the past."

LSU held a small lead early in the game, but an 11-point run midway through the first half pushed the Tide to a lead they never relinquished. Alabama was up 29-19 at the half. "Different guys stepped up," Gottfried said. "Mo (Williams) stepped up and made some big shots. Erwin (Dudley) I thought was really key. Kenny Walker played really hard. He made key plays for us."

Walker led the Tide in scoring with 13 points, but Dudley was again the star. The power forward turned in yet another double-double, totaling 12 points and a game-leading 16 rebounds. Dudley was also credited with three steals and three assists.

Bama's point total was 51 points less than what the squad scored at home Wednesday versus the Razorbacks. "We played so well the other night, and sometimes you think it's going to come easy," Gottfried said. "It was just one of those nights. You're not going to play at your peak performance every single night of the year. You've got to be good enough to still find a way to win when that happens."

Erwin Dudley was dominant on defense, hauling in 16 rebounds for the Tide to go along with three steals. (Associated Press)

Forty-eight points marked the Bengal Tiger's lowest scoring output of the year. "We went after them the whole night," Gottfried said. "I thought that defense was why we won the game. It wasn't our offense--defense and rebounding. We rebounded the ball extremely well, and we defended them pretty good. They didn't really get a lot of easy looks. Offensively we never really gave ourselves a chance. But again, our defense helped us win."

The stat sheet was relatively equal in most categories, but the Tide hit on 83 percent of its free throws to only 45 percent for LSU. And Alabama held a commanding 47-29 edge in rebounding. "The biggest reason is Erwin Dudley," Gottfried said. "But everybody else collectively helped. Demetrius Smith, Terrence Meade--Rod (Grizzard) got some. Mo (Williams) helped. Everybody rebounded the basketball. They helped us on the glass. That's what we've talked about. We've got to be the type team that outscraps everybody around the basket."

The Tide's 7-1 conference record is the best in the SEC. And Ole Miss' loss to Georgia means that Alabama now holds a two-game lead in the Western Division.

All season Gottfried has stressed to his players the importance of taking care of the basketball. But tonight Bama turned the ball over 17 times. "I think we got a few of those late," Gottfried said. "But still we've got to be better than what we were. That's OK, but not if it becomes a pattern. We've done a great job of not turning the ball over throughout the year. Tonight was just a sloppy game, but we got the job done. We got out of here with a win."

Besides Dudley and Walker, Rod Grizzard scored nine points for Alabama. Terrence Meade had eight; Mo Williams and Antoine Pettway six; and Demetrius Smith scored three. LSU was led by Ronald Dupree's 19 points. Collis Temple added 12.

Alabama is currently ranked seventh in the nation by the Associated Press. But since that poll was released, No. 4 (Cincinnati) and No. 5 (Florida) have both lost.

So with Saturday's victory it's possible that the Tide could move into the Top Five. "I hope that happens, but our guys aren't really concerned with that," Gottfried said. "We've got to be concerned with playing in this conference. We've played eight games, and we've got eight left. Four at home and four on the road. It's an eight-game season right now, and that's the way we're going to look at it. We've got to get ready to play every night.

"We've got to go to work on Monday and go get better. We've got to get ready for a good Ole Miss team."

Next up for the Tide is a home matchup with the No. 2 team in the West. Ole Miss will bring a 6-3 conference mark to Tuscaloosa for a game this Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 pm (CT) at Coleman Coliseum.

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