Dudley's no dud for Bama

Buzz Peterson's greatest concern heading into Saturday's Tennessee-Alabama basketball game can be summed up in two words -- Erwin Dudley.

Bama's 6-9, 260-pound senior leads is the defending SEC Player of the Year and a two-time defending rebounding champ. He's on his way to another rebounding title this year, leading the league at 10.0 per game, nearly 1 1/2 per game ahead of the runnerup.

Dudley also ranks fifth in the SEC in field goal percentage at 50.2 and ninth in scoring at 14.7 points per game. In short, he's an even bigger load than South Carolina's 6-10 Tony Kitchings, who burned Tennessee for 21 points and 8 rebounds Wednesday night as the Gamecocks dumped the Vols 77-63. Clearly, Tennessee must do a better job on Dudley if it is to stem the Tide Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena).

''You cannot let him get angles on you,'' Peterson said. ''He's a big body inside who can really score a lot of points in there when everybody's tired because he's such a strong low-post player. I have a lot of concerns about guarding him. He's very difficult to guard. We've got to do it by committee. The team's got to make an effort to stop him; not just one person.''

Dudley has everything coaches look for in a post player. He has the height, the bulk, the athleticism and the disposition to be a force in the paint every time he takes the floor.

''He's got the unique skills of a Udonis Haslem,'' Peterson said, referring to Florida's former All-SEC center.

Peterson went on to lump Dudley with UT's own Ron Slay and Mississippi State's Mario Austin in that all are ''low-post players with the strong lower bodies that can bury people inside. At the 30-minute mark, folks get a little tired, but those folks have the strength to bury you in there and score those little two-pointers in there that really pay off at the end of the game.''

Inside Tennessee Top Stories