Tide Beats LSU

Years ago LSU had a head basketball coach, Dale Brown, who employed what he called a "freak defense." It was really not much of a defense at all, but sometimes the opponent did not play well and the Bengal Tigers would win. There was some feeling of freakishness in Alabama's 71-61 win over LSU Tuesday night.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said, "We had a good game defensively." And the statistics would back up that statement since LSU was held to only 35.7 per cent field goal shooting, and particularly on three-point shots where the Bengal Tigers hit only three of 17 shots, 17.6 per cent.

LSU Coach John Brady was understandably frustrated by his team's field goal shooting, particularly since the Tigers missed a number of medium range open jump shots. "That game was there to be won," Brady said. "We had our opportunities. Everything looks a little different when you don't make open shots."

Alabama's defense was centered on LSU's excellent forward Glen Davis, but the 6-9, 295-pound Davis wasn't defended. He hit nine of 16 field goal attempts, all five of his free throws, and had 24 points. He also had 17 rebounds.

"If you had told me before the game Glen was going to have 24 and 17, I would have thought that would have been good enough for us to win," Brady said.

Although Davis, the 2006 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, had an excellent game, he did appear to be a bit sore after having been involved in an automobile accident last weekend.

Alabama, ranked 14th in the nation, improved its record to 14-2 and evened its SEC record at 1-1. Arkansas, ranked 13th, fell to 11-4. It was the league opener for the Tigers.

Alabama now has eight days off before returning to action against Vanderbilt in Nashville on January 17. Bama's next home game will be January 20 against Georgia.

A sellout crowd of 15,316 was in Coleman Coliseum for the LSU game and the Georgia game is within a few hundred tickets of a sellout. Future games against Arkansas, Kentucky and Auburn are also sold out. Alabama has now won 15 consecutive home games, including having a 9-0 record in Coleman Coliseum this season.

As usual, Alabama got balanced scoring. Richard Hendrix, who had most of the burden of trying to guard Davis, did his part on the offensive end with 18 points to lead five Tiders in double figures. Alonzo Gee, who hit three key three-point shots in the first half, had 15 points. Jermareo Davidson had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Mykal Riley had 12 points.

Alabama hit one less field goal than LSU. The Tigers were good on 25 of 70 shots while Bama connected on 24 of 52 (46.2 per cent), but the Tide outscored LSU from the field because Bama was good on an impressive 9 of 16 three-point shots (56.3 per cent).

LSU won the rebounding battle, 43-36 with the Tigers pulling down 18 offensive boards. LSU had an advantage on points in the paint, 34-20, and on second chance points, 14-7.

Gee had some early misses, but kept shooting and had four of six three-point shots and all 15 of his points by intermission. Bama had fallen behind by seven points in the first six minutes of the game, but when Gee hit a three-pointer with 7:47 to play it gave Alabama a 17-15 lead and LSU would not be in front again. Back-to-back treys by Gee and Riley and a fast break Gee dunk on an assist from Steele got the lead out to eight and the Tide would have a 35-26 lead at intermission.

Hendrix had seven points in a span of less than two minutes early in the second half to hold off an LSU run. Ronald Steele hit both of his three-point attempts in the second half.

Hendrix said, "When I get the ball on the blocks, I believe I can do good things with it. Alonzo hit some outside shots in the first half. In the second half, Coach emphasized getting it in. In the second half we pounded it inside."

Alabama was coming off a disappointing 88-61 loss at Arkansas in the SEC opener last Saturday. Gottfried said, "After that slice of humble pie, it would have been easy for us to mope and moan, but we didn't do that. We had to get some things corrected, and we did."

"It's a long season," Hendrix said. "You have to put the losses behind you."

Gottfried said the time off would give Alabama some rest time, noting that point guard Ron Steele, particularly, needed to continue the healing process. Steele has been slowed with knee and ankle injuries this year. But, Gottfried said, the Tide would also have to have practice time to keep its conditioning.

Alabama returns the game at LSU on January 31.

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