Dudley breaks out in 77-68 win

The Alabama basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked third in the nation, probably didn't play like a top-ranked team Saturday, but the result was the Crimson Tide's sixth straight victory to open the season, a 77-68 win over St. Bonaventure.

"We beat a good Atlantic 10 Team," Gottfried said. "It was not the best played game on either end. But they forced some of that chaos with their defense."

The victory was Bama's 23rd in a row in Coleman Coliseum. The home court winning streak dates back to the final two games of the 2000-01 season and includes the 17-0 Coleman Coliseum record in 2001-02. It is Alabama's fourth consecutive win at home this year. Alabama had also won 22 consecutive home games from the end of 1970-71 throught the first six games of 1972-73.

"Anytime you set a record of any sort, it's significant," Gottfried said. "Our seniors have invested a lot in this program. Their goal is to continue to extend that streak a long time."

Alabama returns to action at 5 p.m. CST next Saturday against Bowling Green in the Coors C;lassic in Mobile. The Tide will be back in Coleman Coliseum at 2 p.m. CST Saturday, December 21, hosting Providence.

The Tide got 28 points and 17 rebounds from pre-season All-America power forward Erwin Dudley in the win over St. Bonaventure. Alabama's other post player, Kenny Walker, also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. With those numbers is is not surprising that Alabama had big advantages over St. Bonaventure in points in the paint (Alabama 40, St. Bonaventure 28) and in second chance points (Bama 23, St. Bonaventure 4).

"My teammates did a good job looking for me down in the block," Dudley said. "It was just one of my nights I was blessed with."

Also scoring in double figures for Alabama were guards Mo Williams and Antoine Pettway with 11 each. St. Bonaventure was led by Patricio Prato with 19.

Neither team shot well, and as a result there were a lot of rebounds with Alabama pulling down an extraordinary 62, the Bonnies 39. The Tide managed five steals. "I love our defense right now," Gottfried said. "We're really getting down and playing hard."

Alabama shot only 35.6 per cent from the field, St. Bonaventure 36.2 per cent. The Tide made only five of 25 three-pointers, St. Bonaventure six of 21, 28.6 per cent. Alabama did well from the free throw line, 20 of 26 for 76.9 per cent, while the Bonnies were very poor on foul shots, 12 of 23 for 52.2 per cent.

Bama got particularly poor shooting from the wing where Earnest Shelton was one for nine, Emmett Thomas one for seven, and Terrance Meade two for seven.

"It was just one of those nights when our shots were not falling," Williams said. "We still have confidence in our shots."

Alabama had 17 turnovers while St. Bonaventure had 14. Both teams scored 15 points off turnovers.

St. Bonaventure head coach Jan van Breda Kolff had faced Alabama four years ago when he worked for Vanderbilt. "Mark (Gottfried) is a charismatic person," Breda Kolff said. "He's recruited well, and once he's gotten the players here he develops them. The quality of players is much better. He's done an incredible job. Alabama deserves their (No. 3) ranking."

Walker and Pettway had two blocked shots each as Alabama turned in six blocks. Williams and Shelton had four assists each with Bama having 13 total.

Alabama, which led by 41-33 at halftime, led by as many as 12 points in the first half and as many as 17 in the second half. The Tide had a 14 point lead with 41 seconds to play. The Bonnies had a couple of two-point leads in the opening minutes, but Alabama never trailed after breaking a 7-7 tie.

Bama's next game will be held in Mobile, the hometown of Kennedy Winston. The true freshman forward has been held out of action this season, as an NCAA investigation into improprieties that took place during his high school AAU career drags on. "We're hoping he can play (Saturday)," Gottfried said. "But I'm not foreseeing that. I don't know any more now than what I was told two weeks ago."


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