Tide In Title Game

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - The number 19 ranked University of Alabama men's basketball team was pushed to the wire by unranked Minnesota but pulled out with a 78-72 win Friday night to advance to the championship final of the Great Alaska Shootout. Alabama will play 22nd ranked Washington.

The championship of the Great Alaska Shootout in the University of Alaska-Anchorage's Sullivan Arena will begin at 9 p.m. CST Saturday with television coverage by ESPN2. Washington was a late Friday winner over Oklahoma.

"We're happy to win and it's a good win," said Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried after the game that improved his team to 4-0 on the season and dropped the Gophers to 2-1. "It's a good good basketball team. They've got two players playing for them who didn't play last year who are awfully good in Dan Coleman (16 points) and Vincent Grier (11 points). Their big guys are big and effective. They can do things with the basketball around there. We won't play against very many guys with that much size all year long.

"We stepped up and made foul shots, but defensively we were just okay. That's where we've got to get better and we've got to do it Saturday. We cut down our turnovers in the second half. That hurt us early in the game (11 in 1st half, 15 in game). Earnest (Shelton) played big with big shots all night long. He did a great job. And then we hung in and rebounded the ball on the defensive end when we had to do it. Those were key things for us."

Senior guard Earnest Shelton led Alabama with his career high 29 points. His first five baskets were all from three-point range. The three-point line is extended in this tournament as one of th'e NCAA's experimental rules. Shelton was 5 of 11 from three-point range and 7 of 15 from the field overall. He was 10 of 12 at the free throw line.

"They were a really good team," said Shelton. "They were big inside, huge inside, and we're kind of thin inside and they did a good job of kind of feeding their big men and cutting off, but we found a way of getting it done. We had guys struggling tonight that have normally been giving us big points. Kennedy Winston stepped up and played well. Chuck Davis was having an off night, but that's the good thing about our team. If somebody has an off night, we've got enough guys where people can pick it up and we can come off with the win."

Winston scored 18 points in the win and freshman point guard Ronald Steele had 14. Winston led the game under the boards with nine rebounds. Alabama led 38-33 at the half. 

Four Minnesota players scored in double digits, led by 16 from Coleman, 14 from Aaron Robinson, 12 from Jeff Hagen and 11 from Vincent Grier.

For the first time this season, Alabama shot under 50 percent from the field, making 20 of 44 from 45.5%. It was 8 of 16 from 3-point range and was 30 of 36 for 83.3% at the free throw line. Bama outrebounded Minnesota 37 to 29.

Minnesota was 25 of 61 for 41.0% from the field and 5 of 15 from 3-point range. It mad 17 of 25 free throws.

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