Bama Meets Duke In MSG Wednesday

This is the week to be in New York. Thanksgiving Day in New York is Macy's Parade, the beginning of the Christmas season, Broadway shows, and on and on and on. And a few people will be in New York this week on business, missing the parade and the plays and shopping. The Alabama basketball team, for instance.

Alabama Basketball Coach Anthony Grant has no plans for his team except for playing Duke, the squad Bama meets Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal. After that whatever team the Crimson Tide plays on Friday will be the next order of business.

The Tide's game against fifth-ranked Duke will tip off at 9:30 p.m. EST (8:30 p.m. central time) Friday with ESPN2 televising the game. The other game in the semifinals is third-ranked Arizona taking on Drexel at 7 p.m. EST (6 central). On Friday, winner will play winner and loser will play loser.

The Duke squad of renowned Coach Mike Krzyzewski is 5-1, the lone loss coming at the hands of then-fourth-ranked Kansas, 94-83. Alabama is 3-1, the loss coming in the opener against Oklahoma, 82-73.

Krzyzewski has been at Duke for 34 years and has 889 wins. Grant is precisely 800 wins behing Krzzyzewski in this his fifth season at Bama with 89 wins.

Neither team had a problem in advancing to the semifinals. First and second round games were played on home courts of the top seeds. Duke advanced with wins over UNC-Ashville, 91-55, and East Carolina, 83-74. The Tide defeated Stillman, 102-65, and Georgia State, 75-58.

The Blue Devils had a game between its NIT Season Tip-Off second round and going to New York and got a scare from Vermont, Duke winning 91-90.

Historically, Duke has had the best of it against Alabama with the Blue Devils having won seven of eight previous games, including six in a row. This will mark the first meeting since Dec. 13, 1986.

Alabama will be playing its first top ten opponent of the year Wednesday. There was a good chance Duke would be in the top ten. This will be the Blue Devils' 219th consecutive game as a member of the Associated Press top ten.

Bama has a record of 32-98 when playing a top ten team.

Duke has a 22-7 mark under Krzyzewski at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils are 19-2 in the NIT Season Tip-Off with 13 consecutive victories.

Trevor Releford, Alabama's senior All-Southeastern Conference guard, is leading the Tide in scoring at 18 points per game, connecting on 25-42 (59.5 per cent) from the floor and 11-22 (50 per cent) on three-point shots. That is not a surprise. What is a surprise is that sophomore guard Retin Obasohan, who played almost not at all last year as a redshirt freshman, is the second leading scorer at 15.5 points per game. He also leads Bama with 2.8 steals and 2.5 assists per game.

Levi Randolph has returned to the Bama lineup after having missed pre-season practice work with a knee injury and is averaging 11.3 points per game. Algie Key, a junior college transfer, is also in double figures at 10.3 points per outing. Key, a guard whose specialty is driving the lane, leads Bama in shooting on 15-19 from the floor, 78.9 per cent.

Duke is led by 6-8, 235-pound freshman Jabai Parker, who is averaging 23 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He has had six games of 20 or more points. Rodney Hood (6-8, 215, soph) is averaging 21.8 points per game and has four games with 20 or more points and one 30-point game. Guard Quinn Cook is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 assists per game.

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