Saturday, February 14, 2004
» Box Score
By Kelly Counts and Matt Hooper
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Despite trailing throughout most of the first half, Alabama battled back for an impressive 83-70 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers in their Valentine’s Day matchup in Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama and Tennessee are now tied in both their overall record at 12-9, and their conference record at 4-6. The win marked the end of Alabama’s five-game losing steak, which started on January 24 with a 71-60 loss to Ole Miss in Oxford.
Alabama connected on 46.2 percent of their first half shots but struggled from the line, hitting only 44 percent. The Volunteers, meanwhile, despite hitting only 37 percent of their shots from the floor, were successful on all three of their attempts from behind the arc and would own a 36-32 lead at the break.
Alabama started strong the second half as Chuck Davis scored 8 points within the first five minutes of the half. Both teams traded shots until the 15-minute mark, when Justin Albrecht fouled Kennedy Winston as he attempted a lay-up, giving the Tide its first lead since 13:44 in the first half. The Tide would never look back.
“I thought that in the second half our zone helped us,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried. “Our full-court press probably helped us some. I thought that it got the game and the tempo going like we wanted it to.”
Earnest Shelton led Alabama in scoring with 27 points. He was 8 for 12 in field goals, 5 for 9 in three point attempts and 6 for 7 in free throws. Also reaching double digits for the Tide were Chuck Davis with 20 points and Kennedy Winston with 16. The Volunteers were led by Brandon Crump with 19 points. Both Scooter McFadgon and C.J. Watson posted 13 points for Tennessee.
The win was especially meaningful to Shelton, who is a Memphis native.
“It is a big game for me personally,” Shelton said. “You get some bragging rights when you get to go home in the summertime. It is one of those games that I circle on my calendar and look forward to playing.”