Alabama Advances to Championship of Great Alaska Shootout

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Friday, November 26, 2004

Earnest Shelton
Earnest Shelton

   

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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - The No. 19 ranked University of Alabama men's basketball team was pushed to the wire by unranked Minnesota but pulled out with a 78-72 win Friday night to advance to the championship final of the Great Alaska Shootout.

Alabama will play the winner between Friday night's late game between Oklahoma and Washington for the championship of the eight-team tournament. That game will be played at 9 p.m. CT on Saturday in the University of Alaska Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.

"We're happy to win and it's a good win," said Mark Gottfried after the game that improved his team to 4-0 on the season and dropped the Gophers to 2-1. "It's a good good basketball team. They've got two players playing for them who didn't play last year who are awfully good in Dan Coleman (16 points) and Vincent Grier (11 points). Their big guys are big and effective. They can do things with the basketball around there. We won't play against very many guys with that much size all year long.

"We stepped up and made foul shots, but defensively we were just okay. That's where we've got to get better and we've got to do it tomorrow. We cut down our turnovers in the second half. That hurt us early in the game (11 in 1st half, 15 in game). Earnest (Shelton) played big with big shots all night long. He did a great job. And then we hung in and rebounded the ball on the defensive end when we had to do it. Those were key things for us."

Senior guard Earnest Shelton led Alabama with his career high 29 points. His first five baskets were all from 3-point range. The 3-point line is extended in this tournament as one of the NCAA's experimental rules. Shelton was 5 of 11 from 3-point range and 7 of 15 from the field overall. He was 10 of 12 at the free throw line.

"They were a really good team," said Shelton. "They were big inside, huge inside, and we're kind of thin inside and they did a good job of kind of feeding their big men and cutting off, but we found a way of getting it done. We had guys struggling tonight that have normally been giving us big points. Kennedy (Winston) stepped up and played well. Chuck (Davis) was having an off night, but that's the good thing about our team. If somebody has an off night, we've got enough guys where people can pick it up and we can come off with the win."

Winston scored 18 points in the win and Ron Steele had 14. Winston led the game under the boards with nine rebounds. Alabama led 38-33 at the half.

Four Minnesota players scored in double digits, led by 16 from Coleman, 14 from Aaron Robinson, 12 from Jeff Hagen and 11 from Vincent Grier.

For the first time this season, Alabama shot under 50 percent from the field, making 20 of 44 from 45.5%. It was 8 of 16 from 3-point range and was 30 of 36 for 83.3% at the line. It outrebounded Minnesota 37 boards to 29.

Minnesota was 25 of 61 for 41.0% from the field and 5 of 15 from 3-point range. It mad 17 of 25 free throws.

PHOTO GALLERY

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 001
Kennedy Winston and Earnest Shelton meet their host family in the hotel lobby. The families took players and staff into their homes for Thanksgiving dinner.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 002
Strength and conditioning coach Steve Martin and Associate Athletics Director (and Tide All-American) Wendell Hudson cheer on the team against Minnesota.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 003
Chuck Davis warms up before the Minnesota game.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 004
4: Tide coach Mark Gottfried heads to the bench following team introductions

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 005
Ron Steele gets ready for another big night on the floor. He's averaging 11 points after four games.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 006
 The team huddles before the start of the game.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 007
 Kennedy Winston, Shawn Taylor, Chuck Davis and Earnest Shelton in the lockerroom following Bama's semifinals win against Minnesota.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 008
The team takes a knee in prayer following their win against Minnesota.

Great Alaska Shootout Day 3 009
Mark Gottfried and Earnest Shelton address the media following the Minnesota win where Shelton scored a career high 29 points. He's averaging 20 points after four games.