EA Sports gives Bama all it wanted

The Alabama men's basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked eighth in the nation in the Associated Press preseason poll and the overwhelming pick to repeat as Southeastern Conference champion, had its work cut out for it in the opening exhibition game of the season. The Crimson Tide had to withstand a furious rally by EA to take a 97-94 decision in Coleman Coliseum Friday night.

Sophomore point guard Mo Williams was the offensive star for Bama has he poured in 11 field goals -- including six of eight three-point shots -- and added six free throws for 34 points. Erwin Dudley, last year's SEC Player of the Year and selected to repeat for that honor this season, had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Kenny Walker was the only other Tider in double figures as he had 10 points.

Overall, Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried was pleased with his team's offensive effort in scoring 97 points and hitting 55 percent of its shots from the field.

"We should be a pretty good scoring team on offense," Gottfried said. "We have got to get a lot better defensively. Overall though we have got a pretty good team."

EA, made up of former college players, was also playing its first game. The well-coached visitors got 21 points from Bennet Davison and 20 from Fred Vinson.

EA hit its first three shots -- all three-pointers -- and had an early lead. But after Bama took the lead at 10-9, Bama led the rest of the way expect for a brief tie at 42-42. Alabama led by as many as 12 points in the first half and had a 47-42 lead at intermission. In the second half the Tide stretched that lead to as many as 16 points with just over eight minutes to play. The Tide still had a 10-point lead with under a minute to play as EA forged its comeback. The visitors were never able to draw closer than the final margin of three.

Alabama played 12 men in the game, including redshirt freshman Lucky Williams, who was recently declared ineligible for Alabama's first 14 games of the season. Williams was permitted to play in this exhibition game and Bama's next exhibition game, which will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in Coleman Coliseum against Athletes In Action.

Freshman Kennedy Winston, whose eligibility status is being reviewed, did not play in the game.

Alabama started with a three-guard line-up -- Williams, Terrance Meade and Earnest Shelton, along with Dudley and Walker.

Both teams scored 33 field goals and EA actually outscored Bama from the field. The visitors hit 16 of 38 three-point shots (over half of EA's 73 shots were three-point attempts). Bama had only 10 three-pointers, but made them in only 18 attempts. However. Alabama hit nine point free throws, 21 of 29 to only 12 of 16 for EA Sports.

Alabama shots 50 per cent from the field, including 55.6 per cent on three-pointers, and made 72.4 per cent from the free throw line. EA hit 45.2 per cent from the field and 42.1 per cent of three-pointers and made 75 per cent on foul shots.

Both teams had 40 points and 17 turnovers. While Williams had three steals for the Tide, he also had eight turnovers. Antoine Pettway also had three steals. Walker had three blocked shots.

The Tide had 28 poiints in the paint to 20 for EA. EA had 20 points off turnovers, Alabama 19. Bama had 21 second chance points, EA 14.

The game was also the season-opener for EA Sports.

Alabama completes its preseason next Thursday night as the Tide will take on Athletes in Action at 7 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum. Alabama's first regular season action will take place on November 14, as the Tide travels to New York City to hit the hardwood against Oklahoma in the 2002 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

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