Saturday, December 20, 2003
» Box Score
LAS VEGAS, NEV. - Kennedy Winston's right jumper from about six feet out with four seconds remaining lifted the University of Alabama men's basketball team to an 87-86 win against Oregon here. It was the biggest basket of the sophomore's career-high 27-points night.
Oregon, which still had two timeouts remaining in those final four seconds and took both back to back before taking possession following Winston's basket, got the ball to its All-American, Luke Jackson, but Jackson missed a jumper as time expired and Alabama grabbed the rebound to take the win.
The Crimson Tide, 6-2, and the Ducks, 4-2, were competing in the Las Vegas Showdown, the eighth annual double header of basketball hosted by UNLV.
"It was a dog fight," said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried whose team now breaks for a few days and regroups for practice on Christmas night in preparation to host Mercer at home in Tuscaloosa on December 27. "We gave them a great shot early. They responded and came back. We had to keep responding and so did they. You have to give them credit for that but what a great, great basketball game. I'm really proud of our guys because they played so hard."
Oregon opened the game with a 6-0 start before Winston broke the spell with a layup with 18:09 into the game, a basket that would signal the start an 8-0 run for Alabama to get it back in the game and into the lead at 8-6 with 17:08 remaining in the first half.
"We've talked the last couple of days about how Oregon is a great transition team. They really do a good job of running at you," said Gottfried. "Our plan was that if they were going to run at us, then we were going to run at them. We were going to attack them. 'If they want to run, that's fine; let's lace up the sneakers real tight and let's go get them.' And our guys I thought really attacked the basket during that stretch. We ended up with a couple of lay-ups, made a couple of threes but we were really pushing the ball and attacking them and really I thought got them on their heals a little bit and had a good lead.
"They're a team when you watch them-and we've watched every game on film-they can score quickly in a lot of different ways. They have three point shooters, they've got inside kids who can score. We never felt like a 12 or 14 point lead was something to be comfortable with. They were going to keep playing and so were we. And I think Kennedy just makes some great plays. He said in that timeout-a lot of times he takes the ball out-he looked at me in the eye and said, 'put me in it and give me the ball.' I'm not real smart guys, but I'm smart enough there. We made an adjustment there and he made a great play. He had a great game altogether."
By halftime four Alabama players had already reached double digits in scoring, and Alabama, bolstered by 58.8 percent shooting from the floor, led 54-46. Alabama's biggest lead of the game, 14 points, came during the first half when Evan Brock's jumper made with 5:10 remaining in the first half put Alabama ahead 41-27. But Oregon opened the second half by outscoring Alabama13-7 to pull to within two at 61-59 with 15:34 remaining. The game's lead would change a total of seven times.
Winston led all scorers with 27 points. He was one of five Tide players who scored in double digits as Earnest Shelton had 16, Antoine Pettway 12 and both Chuck Davis and Emmett Thomas had 11. Thomas was key in Alabama's first half run as he was 3 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half. The Tide was 34 of 63 from the field (54.0%), 6 of 18 (33.3%) from 3-point range and 13 of 22 (59.1%) at the free throw line. Led by five from Winston, it out-rebounded Oregon 32-30.
Ian Crosswhite had 21 points for the Ducks. Luke Jackson had 17, Aaron Brooks 15 and Andre Joseph 14. It was 30 of 55 (54.5 %) from the field, 11 of 26 (42.3%) from 3-point range and 15 of 17 (88.2%) at the line. Crosswhite led the game in rebounding with eight.