Tide Beats Kentucky

The Alabama men's basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked 14th in the nation, went into Rupp Arena Saturday night and handed the eighth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats a 64-61 defeat, Bama's first v ictory at Rupp since 1989. On a day of upsets in college basketball, Bama's upset victory could propel the Crimson Tide into the nation's top ten when polls are released next week.

The victory in the nationally-televised (ESPN) game pushed Alabama's record to 17-3 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference competition, alone at the top of the SEC Western Division standings, and, indeed, the only SEC team with just one conference loss.

Alabama returns home to Coleman Coliseum Wednesday against Arkansas, the last team to defeat Bama in Tuscaloosa. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.

As is the case with most SEC teams, Alabama has a terrible record in Lexington. Saturday night's win was Bama's eighth at Kentucky, while the Wildcats have defeated the Tide 48 times as the home team.

The win was Gottfried's first as a coach against Kentucky in Lexington, but Gottfried now has a 3-1 Alabama head coaching record against the Wildcats. Additionally, as a player he was on a team that defeated Kentucky in Lexington.

Alabama built as much as a nine-point lead, and led almost the entire game, but the Tide did have to weather a second-half run by the Wildcats.

In a very unusual game, Alabama shot 21 more free throws than Kentucky. Bama missed some late shots that would have iced the game, but managed to make 21 of the 29 opportunities. Meanwhile, Kentucky made only 6 of 8 foul shots.

Erwin Dudley led the Bama attack with 16 points, while Rod Grizzard added 14. But the difference in the game may have been the offensive work of two young point guards. For most of the game, Bama used both starting point guard Mo Williams and back-up guard Antoinie Pettway, and both had 13 points for the Tide. The only other Tide player to score was Kenny Walker, who just missed double figures with eight points.

Walker was Bama;'s leading rebounder with nine, while Dudley and Grizzard had sev en each. Bama and Kentucky finished with 34 rebounds each.

Alabama's defense was exceptional, holding the Wildcats to 39 per cent field goal shooting, and only 34 per cent in the second half. The Wildcats also hit only 23 per cent from three-point range. Alabama was not hot, either, hitting 42 per cent from the field and 27 per cent on three-pointers.

Gottfried said, "I am so proud of our team. We had unbelieveable determination. Kentucky is good and this was a big win for us."

It was Alabama's second SEC roead victory in three tries this season. As Gottfried pointed out, "In the past, when we weren't winning on the road, we were so young. We're still young, but we have a lot of guys who have played a lot."

Gotfried said Rod Grizzard did not have a great shooting game, but that Grizzard had a great game defensively and in getting key rebounds. He also had praise for former walk-on Pettway. The coach also noted that freshman guard Williams "is getting better every game. He was pretty impressive."

BamaMag Top Stories