Bama Starts Late in Alaska Shootout

The 19th-ranked Alabama basketball team (2-0) will enter play late Wednesday night in the eight-team Great Alaska shootout with one ambition, coming out on top in the eight-team tournament.

"We hope to win everything and come back with a big trophy - first place," Alabama junior forward Kennedy Winston said. "It won't be easy by any means. There is some good competition here. I think we have a team that is capable of doing it, and we're going into it with the attitude and the goal that we want to win everything."

Alabama opens play in the tournament at 10:30 p.m. Central Time against host school Alaska-Anchorage (1-1). The game will be televised on the ESPN2 cable network and broadcast on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.

The appearance is Alabama's first in the Great Alaska Shootout, which has been in existence since 1978. Alabama competed in Alaska in 1996, however, winning the "Top of the World Classic" in Faribanks.

Winston has averaged 18.5 points and five rebounds in Alabama's first two games, while Tide forward Chuck Davis is averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the first two games.

If Alabama were to win the opening round game it would face either Furman or Minnesota on Friday. Other teams in the field are No. 22 Washington, Utah, Oklahoma and High Point.

"It's our first chance, an early chance, to get to play some big-time teams, some big time schools that are going to win some games this year," senior guard Earnest Shelton said. "This is going to be an opportunity for us to come out and prove ourselves."

The squad left Monday afternoon and arrived shortly after midnight, after approximately 16 hours of travel time. There are consolation rounds, and each team is guaranteed three games in the tournament.

"I think our players are excited about being here," Tide Head Coach Mark Gottfired said. "This is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country. I was here 14 years ago with UCLA (1990 when UCLA won), and I enjoyed it. I think our players will do the same. It's a great field. Hopefully we'll learn a lot about our team and it will make us better."

Alaska Anchorage is led by guards Marcus Robinson, with 19 points per game, and Adam Fitt-Chappell, who has averaged 14 points in two games. The Seawolves are coached by Rusty Osborne, a Texas alumn in his first season as a head coach.

"It's a great shooting team," Gottfried said. "We realize they've beaten big teams every year. Last year they won two games in the Great Alaska Shootout. We're playing a road game and we've got our hands full."

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