Davis Leads Tide Win

When Alabama played North Texas in a basketball tournament in Mobile in 2001, Crimson Tide Coach Mark Gottfried thought the Mean Green was one of the worst Division I basketball teams he had ever seen. At the end of that year, one of his assistant coaches, Johnny Jones, left the Bama staff to take over as head coach at North Texas. Jones brought his team to Tuscaloosa Sunday and the improvement was obvious, though 18th ranked Bama was able to prevail, 85-71.

Bama had won that tournament game in 2001 by a 94-55, almost without breaking a sweat. On Sunday at Coleman Coliseum, Mark Gottfried said, "We couldn't put them away–and we were trying to. The story today was North Texas. They played really well."

But if North Texas was the story, there was at least a sidebar in the play of Bama's Chuck Davis. The junior forward had a career high 25 points as he hit eight of 10 field goals and nine of 11 free throws. He also had seven rebounds and three blocked shots in 35 minutes of play.

"Chuck played great," Gottfried said. "He was the difference. He is playing real smart, taking good shots. And he's playing good defense, too."

Davis said, "My teammates realized I had a mismatch down there and did a good job of getting me the ball."

There were times when it appeared Alabama, now 2-0, was in for a typical pre-season breather. Shooting 72.7 per cent from the field in the first half (16 of 22 field goals), including connecting on all five ot its three-point attempts, Bama went out to a 44-28 lead. Even that margin was a bit of a disappointment as the Tide had led by 22 points at 37-15 with 4:23 to play in the first half.

But instead of coasting in the second half, Bama had to battle. The Mean Green, now 1-1, played an aggressive man-to-man defense and connected on some tough shots. Despite being out-rebounded 36-24 by Alabama, North Texas was able to 10 more field goal attempts than Alabama. Both teams hit 27 field goals and North Texas scored more points from the field by hitting 11 of 28 three-point shots to Alabama's seven of 15. The visitors outscored Alabama 65-61 from the field.

But that aggressive defense by the Mean Green sent Alabama to the free throw line 34 times, and Bama connected on 24 of them. North Texas made six of nine foul shots.

Alabama shooting cooled off considerably in the second half, only 11 of 27 on field goals and only two of 10 on three-point tries. But Bama held North Texas to only 45.8 per cent shooting, 39.3 per cent from three-point range.

Gottfried said Alabama players may have had their minds on their upcoming tournament trip to the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. The tournament begins Wednesday and Bama opens against the home team (Alaska Anchorage). The game will be telecast on ESPN2 with tipoff at 6:30 p.m. in Alaska, 10:30 CST. Big names in the tournament are Minnesota, Utah, Washington and Oklahoma. Furman and High Point round out the field. The tournament concludes Saturday.

The game was tied early at 5-5 and Bama had only a 14-9 lead with North Texas shooting a free throw with 14:23 to play in the first half. But the free throw was missed and Alabama scored 13 straight points to get breathing room.

Then in the second half, North Texas cut the lead to nine points at 52-43, but seven straight Crimson Tide points got the lead back out to 16 and Alabama maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way.

In addition to Davis, Alabama got double-digit scoring from Earnest Shelton (17), Ronald Steele (14), and Kennedy Winston (13, despite hitting only four of 12 field goal attempts).

North Texas was led by Leonard Hopkins with 19 points, Michael Jones with 18, and Calvin Watson with 15.

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