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35-point win should help Tide's case

3/11/2004

ATLANTA (AP) -- Alabama certainly played like a tournament team.

Kennedy Winston had 17 points and the Crimson Tide hit seven of
its first eight shots in a dominating 84-49 victory over Tennessee
on Thursday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference
tournament.

At 17-11, with an RPI ranking of 23 at the end of the regular
season, Alabama likely will get a bid to the NCAA tournament. The
Crimson Tide made it in 2003 with a 17-12 record and a fourth-place
finish in the West Division of the SEC.

Alabama was third in the West this season.

A late-season hot streak probably helps the cause, too, as does
playing the toughest schedule in the nation. The Tide has won six
of its past eight games, and one of the losses was in overtime to
No. 4 Mississippi State.

Emmett Thomas added 16 and Earnest Shelton had 15 for Alabama,
which got its most lopsided victory since pummeling Mercer 101-44
back in December.

Scooter McFadgon scored 14 points and Brandon Crump finished
with 13 for Tennessee, which shot 32 percent and was outrebounded
42-28. The Volunteers (15-13) can only hope for a chance to play in
the NIT for the second season in a row.

The outcome really never was in doubt after about the first 10
minutes. A jumper by Major Wingate brought Tennessee within 5-4
with 17:05 left in the half, but Shelton made a 3-pointer to start
a 15-5 run.

Winston added two jumpers and a layup while the Volunteers went
about 5{ minutes without scoring.

Later, C.J. Watson scored from in close to cut the lead to
20-11, but eight consecutive points by Alabama pushed the margin to
17, and it never got smaller than 13 the rest of the way.

The end of the first half epitomized the struggles for
Tennessee. After a 3 by McFadgon made it 40-27, Winston had a
putback. Crump shot an air ball from the lane on the other end, and
the Tide held for the final shot.

Shelton patiently dribbled down the clock, then drove to the
basket and made a layup as he was fouled with only three seconds
left. He made the free throw, and Alabama led 45-27.

It got worse from there.

The Volunteers scored only six points in the first 10 minutes of
the second half and fell behind by 30 points, which was enough to
make coach Buzz Peterson finally take a seat on the bench.