Jermareo Davidson, who was out of practice last week for administrative reasons after having to withdraw from classes temporarily, was the Alabama star. Davidson challenged Southern Miss inside on both ends of the court and finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and just missed getting a triple double, turning in nine blocked shots.
Alabama, ranked ninth in the nation, ran its record to 9-1. It was the first loss of the year for the Golden Eagles, now 7-1.
Alabama returns to action Wednesday at North Carolina State. Tipoff will be at 6:30 EST (5:30 central time). Bama will be back in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa next Saturday, hosting Coppin State at 2 p.m. CST.
Alabama had an 18-point lead at halftime, 38-20, and perhaps thought it would be able to coast home. But Southern Miss came out with a good plan and great intensity and cut the lead to only 10 points midway through the second half and to within 8 in the final minute.
A big problem for Bama was having men in foul trouble. Ron Steele, the Tide's All-America point guard, started the game, but was able to play only four minutes because of his injured ankle. Meanwhile, Richard Hendrix was in foul trouble in the first half, Mykal Riley fouled out, and Alonzo Gee missed much playing time after picking up his fourth foul midway through the second half.
Southern Miss and Alabama seemed to have the same plan, taking the ball inside to either get the short shot or get fouled. Both teams spent a lot of time at the free throw line.
Alabama had as much as a 20-point lead in the second half, forcing the Golden Eagles to take some three-pointers, and Southern Miss hit a few of them to quickly cut into the big Bama lead in the final minutes. But Gee got one layup and Justin Tubbs got a couple of them on fast breaks in the final minute to put the game away.
Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said "It was a good win. I don't know if we played great, but I think they had something to do with that. I thought Brandon Hollinger did a good job at the point for Ron Steele. But the big story was Jermareo Davidson. He played great. He took good shots, rebounded, and had some blocked shots, particularly in the first half."
The coach said, "I think we can be a lot better. I think we'll be a lot more fluid when we get Ron back. Ron wanted to play, but it just wasn't worth it."
One key for Bama was winning the rebounding battle. Southern Miss came into the game averaging 16 rebounds per game more than its opponents, number one in the nation in that differential. Alabama won the battle of the boards, 44-37.
In addition to Davidson, the Crimson Tide got double figures scoring from Gee with 20 points, Hendrix with 11, and Tubbs with 10.
Alabama shot 51 per cent from the field while holding USM to only 31 per cent.
Jeremy Wise led the Golden Eagles with 19 points.