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Updated: Monday, November 25, 2002 11:15 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(6) Alabama 80, Middle Tenn St 65
MIDDLE TENNESSEE ST. BLUE RAIDERS
Middle Tennessee St. Blue Raiders
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ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama Crimson Tide
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TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Erwin Dudley scored 17 points as sixth-ranked Alabama continued its hot start with an easy 80-65 victory over Middle Tennessee State.

Alabama (3-0), which defeated No. 3 Oklahoma and Alabama State in its first two games, led 42-25 at halftime and cruised the rest of the way, holding Middle Tennessee State to 38 percent shooting (25-of-66).

"What will dictate how good our team can become is how well we defend all over the floor," Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried said. "On the perimeter, right now we've got a number of guys who are stepping up and playing."

Dudley added 10 rebounds for his first double-double. The preseason All-American forward had 15 as a junior last season and has 35 in his career. He shot 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the foul line and also blocked three shots.

Mo Williams and Kenny Walker each scored 14 points for the Crimson Tide, while Emmett Thomas chipped in with 12.

Thomas, who played for Bevill State Community College last season while he waited for his transfer from South Alabama to clear, scored all of his points on 3-pointers on 4-of-6 shooting. Thomas shot 44 percent from beyond the arc.

"I didn't come in wanting to score a certain amount of points," Thomas said. "I just want to help the team and help the seniors have a good season. I just play defense and go out and play hard. I'll do whatever the team needs."

Alabama has won 21 consecutive home games and has defeated Middle Tennessee State (0-2) in all five meetings between the schools. The Tide and the Blue Raiders last played in 1997.

Steven Jackson led Middle Tennessee State with 15 points and Tommy Gunn added 14.

Alabama will head to the Northeast for the second time this season on Friday for a meeting with Ohio State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Crimson Tide defeated the Sooners in New York at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.


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