TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Sears was open late and that was bad news for State.

Mark Sears scored 21 points to help No. 24  Alabama to a 99-67 win over the Bulldogs before a sold-out Coleman Coliseum crowd of 13,474. Sears had plenty of help. Aaron Estrada celebrated his 23rd birthday with a 15-point night. True freshmen Jarin Stevenson and Mo Dioubate each tallied 14 points.

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Alabama is now 16-6, 8-1 SEC and in first place. State dropped to 14-8, 3-6.

Tide coach Nate Oats opened his post-game presser thusly: "We've been asking our guys to come out and put 40 minutes together on both sides. Tonight was the closest we've come.

"I thought we were a little soft at Georgia. We challenged our guys. I thought they answered.

"We chart the blue collar points. We almost doubled them and they're a tough, hard-nosed team. We got second chance points. We turned them over."

Bulldogs coach Chris Jans said, "Turnovers have become an Achilles Heel for us. When things start going off the rails, we can usually point to that as a problem.

"We certainly had a lot of problems tonight, but that was one of them."

Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

State turned the ball over 18 times resulting in 27 Crimson Tide points.

The battle of the backboards was won 48-37 by Alabama. The Bulldogs attempted 32 free throws and missed 13 of them.

:Twenty offensive rebounds, it's hard to win any game like that," Tolu Smith said, referring to the Tide's 19-8 advantage on second chance points.

By the half, Alabama had built a 47-24 though Smith had already scored 14 of his game-high 23 points. Smith kept Bama's Grant Nelson in foul trouble most of the game, explaining his evening of two points and five boards in but 14 minutes.

Other Bulldogs in double digits were Shakeel Moore with 13 and Shawn Jones with 10.

Up next for Alabama is a Wednesday 6 p.m. CT tip at Auburn.


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