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Updated: Thursday, December 2, 2004 3:24 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(22) Alabama 114, East Tenn St 77

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Alabama stars Earnest Shelton and Kennedy Winston with an assist from Ron Steele made quick work of East Tennessee State.

Shelton and Winston combined for 23 points and seven 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and Steele set a school record for assists as No. 22 Alabama pulled out to a 21-point lead during a 114-77 rout over East Tennessee State.

The Crimson Tide led, 59-28, at the half as they knocked down 21-of-34 shots, including 11-of-20 from the arc. Coming into the game making 45 percent of its 3-pointers, Alabama was 19-of-41 from the arc and 22-of-32 inside it against the Buccaneers' zone.

Steele handed out 18 assists - just one shy of the Southeastern Conference record - and did not commit a turnover. Tennessee's Bill Hahn in 1968 and LSU's Kenny Higgs in 1977 hold the all-time conference mark. The previous school record was 15 by Eric Richardson against Kentucky in 1984.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would have 18 assists as a freshman," Steele said. "The biggest thing for me was that I didn't commit any turnovers."

"Ronald Steele had a heck of a game, and for a freshman, what a signature statement setting that assist record," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said.

In addition, the 3-point field goals and attempts were school records as were Alabama's 30 assists. The point total matched the second-highest mark in school history, with the all-time high of 123 set South Florida in 1971.

"The way we played tonight is how we need to play," Gottfried said. "Defensively, we had lots of energy and intensity. We got our break going; we got out to run because of our defense. Then we turn around on offense and had 30 assists. Everybody was looking to make the extra pass."

Shelton, coming off a career-high 29 points in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout against Minnesota last week, finished with 26 points and six 3-pointers. Winston, a preseason Player of the Year candidate coming off knee surgery, knocked down five from the arc and finished with 19 points.

"We didn't feel like we could guard man to man," Buccaneers coach Murry Bartow said. "We looked at different zones, but Alabama came out and made threes. Those guys can shoot.

"When guys make shots you've got to give them credit. Shelton hit threes, Winston made shots and Justin Jonus did too."

Chuck Davis added 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting for Alabama (5-1), which has won three straight against East Tennessee State.

Dillion Sneed had career-highs with 30 points and 14 rebounds for the Buccaneers (2-3). Tim Smith, who came in averaging 19 points per game including a 35-point outburst against Marshall, added 24.


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