Tide Pulls Big Upset

Alabama had plenty of chances to lose to Oregon in the Las Vegas Shootout Saturday night, and most probably expected the underdog Crimson Tide to fall to the Ducks. But Bama played hard all night, then found an unlikely way to win, connecting on a nice in-bounds play with under five seconds to play. The result was Alabama upsetting Oregon, 88-87.

There are very few basketball teams at any level that, historically, have been less effective than Alabama on in-bounds plays under the basket. Whereas most teams are trying to score in that situation, Bama often is challenged just to get the basketball in bounds. The Crimson Tide's game against Oregon Saturday in Las Vegas came down to Alabama having the ball in that situation in the final 10 seconds. And this time Bama scored and the Crimson Tide upset Oregon.

Kennedy Winston took the in-bounds pass, made one spin, and then hit the 12-footer with 4.5 seconds to play for the Crimson Tide's victory. A last-gasp shot by Oregon went off the side of the basket.

Alabama is now 6-2 on the season, while Oregon fell to 5-2. It was Bama's fourth straight win, and first road victory of the year. Bama will host Mercer at 6 p.m. CST Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama dominated for most of the game. After falling behind 6-0, he Tide took the lead at 18-16 about five minutes into the game and led by as many as 12 points in the first half before taking an eight-point lead at 54-46 at intermission in an uncharacteristically high-scoring game. The Tide led by 61-50 until Oregon hit three consecutive three-point shots to cut the Bama margin to 61-59. Oregon took the lead at 70-69 and from there out the game was played within a couple of points.

Winston had a career-high 27 points to lead all scorers. He hit 12 of 17 field goal attempts. He also had five rebounds, and most of the night was guarding Oregon All-America Luke Jackson. Jackson was held to 15 points and it was Jackson who missed the final last-gasp shot for the Ducks.

It was the second consecutive game in which Winston hit the winning basket. He also scored the winning points in Bama's 76-72 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga on Tuesday. =p>Alabama hit 59 per cent from the field in the first half, but couldn't pull away from the Ducks, who hit 58 per cent.

Oregon had taken an 86-83 lead on a three-pointer. The Tide got two points from Davis for the Tide to pull withintwo, and then got a rebound off an Oregon miss to set up the winning play.

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried called it a great team victory. He noted that Oregon is a great running team, and he made the decision "We'll run at them, too. I think we got them a little on their heels."

Gottfried said that ordinarily Winston would be throwing the ball in on the under-the-basket in-bounds. "But," said the coach, "Kennedy said he wanted the ball." Bama then set up the play for Winston to get the ball on the in-bounds play, and the sophomore responded.

Gottfried said the difficult schedule Alabama has played "has helped make us better."

In addtion to Winston, Alabama got double-figures scoring from Earnest Shelton with 16 points, Antoine Pettway with 12 points, and Emmett Thomas (whose three three-point shots in the first half pushed Bama to its big lead_ with 11.

Bama shot 54 per cent from the field for the game with Oregon a bit better at 54.4 per cent. Although the Tide did not make a three-pointer in the second half, Alabama was 33 per cent from long range. Bama free throw shooting could have proved disastrous. Alabama hit only 13 of its 22 foul shots, while Oregon hit 88 per cent from the free throw line. Bama had a slim 33-30 advantage in rebounds.

Oregon was led by center Ian Crosswhite, who had 21 points before fouling out with 1:39 to play. He fouled out on a play in which Tide soph center Chuck Davis was good on a putback, then made the free throw for a three-point play that tied the game at 83-83.

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