Davidson Leads Tide Win

Jermareo Davidson had a career-high 31 points and Alabama ended its frustrating slump with a 73-70 win over LSU in Baton Rouge Wednesday. Bama did not get its first lead in the second half until inside the final minute of play.

Alabama senior center Jermareo Davidson had 15 points in the first half and 16 in the second half in leading the Crimson Tide to a sweep of LSU. He connected on 12 of 20 field goals, including an exclamation point putback jam at the buzzer. Davidson also made 7-of-8 free throws, including a pair with 45 seconds to play that gave the Tide its first lead of the second half at 69-68.

Moments later Alonzo Gee made a steal and took the ball to the basket. He was fouled and made both free throws for a 71-68 lead. LSU scored with 10 seconds on a putback by Tasmin Mitchell. On a midcourt throw-in from Richard Hendrix to Gee, Gee was unable to get the ball in the basket, but Davidson following behind jammed it down as the game ended.

Bama, which now has a 94-64 advantage over LSU in all games played, had defeated the Bengal Tigers 71-61 in a game in Tuscaloosa three weeks ago. It was the Tide's first victory over LSU in Baton Rouge in five years.

The Crimson Tide had fallen from one of the nation's top-ranked teams to barely hanging on to Top 25 consideration, 20th in the Associated Press poll and 19th in the Coaches Poll. Alabama improved its record to 15-6 overall and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference games. LSU, a Final Four team a year ago, fell to 13-8 overall and dropped to the basement of the SEC Western Division with a 2-5 record.

Alabama got 13 points from Hendrix, who made six of eight field goal attempts, 12 from Mykal Riley, and 11 from Gee. Amazingly, Bama won with Ron Steele playing 34 minutes and failing to score.

LSU was led, as expected, by last year's SEC Player of the Year, Glen Davis. But Davis had only 15 points and only four rebounds. Much of his scoring came from outside. Mitchell had 13 points for theTigers.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said, "I'm so proud of them. We haven't been smiling a lot in the last 10 days or so. We really competed. It was a great win. I think we can build on this.

"I thought we played well defensively, even though they made some shots. And we did a good job of sharing the ball on offense.

"Jermareo stepped up. Richard (Hendrix) stepped up. Mykal Riley did. Alonzo Gee. Justin Tubbs hit a big shot."

For the most part, the Tide played tough man-to-man defense, but also had success with a 2-3 zone. There were times when Alabama played very good defense, forcing LSU to the brink of the 35-second clock, only to give up late baskets. One of the most damaging was a long, off-balanced jumper by Davis. Davis hurt Bama with a number of long jump shots.

Gottfried had indicated he might tinker with the lineup and Brandon Hollinger got the start with Riley going to the bench. (In bigger news, LSU announced that its guard, Tack Minor, had withdrawn from school.)

Riley came into the game within the first four minutes and his short save after a Ron Steele air ball gave Bama its first lead at 9-8. He had two key three-point shots after Alabama had fallen behind by eight points in the second half and he hit a pair of free throws to pull the Tide to within a point at 67-68 with 2:45 to play.

LSU's first two shots of the game were three-point shots that were good, but the Tigers—which have been a poor shooting team—made only one more trey and did not score from beyond the arc in the second half.

Shooting percentages were close, Alabama 51.9 to LSU's 51.8, but in the second half Bama hit 57 per cent and the Tigers only 42 per cent. Bama scored four more points from the foul line, making 13 of 16 while LSU was good on all nine of its free throws. Alabama won the rebounding battle, 30-24.

Before taking the lead in the final 45 seconds of the game, Alabama's last lead in the game had been midway through the first half at 20-18. LSU had a 38-34 halftime lead.

Alabama returns to action in Coleman Coliseum at 2 p.m. CST Saturday hosting South Carolina. The game is sold out but will be telecast regionally.

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