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Tide rely on stifling defense to pull away

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama started making steals and
contesting shots, and LSU just stopped scoring.

The Crimson Tide (12-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference)
showed it can be pretty tough when it turns up the defensive
intensity in its 73-58 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night.

"We didn't do really well the first half, but we defended the
second half like we want to defend everybody the whole game," said
Earnest Shelton, who had 19 points. "Our defense triggers
everything."

It hadn't been triggering much lately. Alabama (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 19 AP) allowed nine
3-pointers in the first half of a loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday
and LSU (6-5, 0-1) got six more before halftime to keep it close.

But for a nearly 9-minute span in the second half, the Tigers
couldn't score a point or hang onto the ball. Alabama used a 17-0
run to turn a one-point game into an easy win, with Kennedy Winston
scoring eight of his 21 points and making a couple of big defensive
plays.

"We needed a game where we played well on both ends of the
floor," coach Mark Gottfried said. "We beat a pretty good
basketball team.

"In the second half, we defended them really well all over the
floor. That's been the issue."

Winston had 15 points in the second half to reach 1,000 for his
career.

Ronald Steele added 14, including nine in a row during a key
stretch of the first half and a momentum-changing 3-pointer in the
second half. Chuck Davis added 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers managed little offense inside before halftime and
didn't produce much outside in the second half. Glen Davis had 13
points and seven rebounds to lead LSU, while Darrel Mitchell and
Antonio Hudson had 11 apiece.

Hudson left with an injury to his left ankle midway through the
second half but coach John Brady said it didn't appear serious.

Davis helped hold leading scorer Brandon Bass to just 10 points,
seven below his average.

"Chuck did a great job 1-on-1 just manning up and saying he
wasn't going to score on him," Shelton said.

The Tigers hit just 7 of 24 shots in the second half after
shooting 57 percent in the first half to trail 35-34.

"I didn't really see them playing good defense on us," Bass
said. "We just made too many careless mistakes."

The Tide led just 43-42 with 16:06 left before getting
defensive. LSU wouldn't score again until Mitchell's 3-pointer with
7:34 left. Bass had scored the Tigers' first eight points of the
half but was a nonfactor late in the game.

The Tigers cut it to 65-57 on Mitchell's 3-pointer with 3:32
left but Steele's 3 and a quick LSU turnover ended the comeback
hopes.

"He never wavered and stepped up there and shot like you're
supposed to, and for a freshman that was pretty impressive,"
Gottfried said.

The Tigers committed 18 turnovers while forcing just nine.

Alabama shot just 3-of-16 from 3-point range but the league's
top free throw shooting team hit 20 of 24 from the line to end a
three-game losing streak in the series.

The Tide's inability to defend the 3-point shot kept them from
building much of a first-half lead. The Tigers hit only six shots
in a 6-minute span but all were 3-pointers for a 24-18 lead.

Steele then fueled a 13-2 rally with nine consecutive points,
starting with two free throws after a technical was called on Tack
Minor and ending with a 3.

"I was under the impression we should have had a five- or
six-point lead but we weren't able to maintain it," Brady said.
"Little things like that wear on our team because I don't think
we're the most confident bunch."