Bama/Florida game notes

The two frontrunners for the 2002 Southeastern Conference regular season championship-who are also both rank among the nation's top 10-will meet on the hardwood in Tuscaloosa's Coleman Coliseum (15,316 capacity) on Saturday, February 23, 2002 when the No. 5 AP/No. 6 ESPN/USA Today ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the No. 8 (both polls) ranked University of Florida Gators.

NEXT GAME:

  • No. 8 Florida
  • 1:00 p.m. CST
  • Saturday, February 23, 2002
  • Coleman Coliseum (15,316 capacity
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama

TICKETS:

SOLD OUT (All Remaining Uof A Home Games SOLDOUT)

TV:

CBS Sports with Tim Brando and Eddie Fogler, UA WEEKLY TV: "Crimson Tide This Week" with host David Crane: Check local listings, airs regionally, "The Mark Gottfried Show", Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m. on CSS, host Tom Roberts

RADIO:

Crimson Tide Sports Network with Eli Gold and Tom Roberts; engineer Tom Stipe, WVUA 90.7 FM (UofA Campus Station/home games only)

INTERNET:

Live audio of CTSN's radio broadcast is available on the internet on www.rolltide.com. Tide basketball information is available there as well as on www.markgottfried.com and www.crimsontradition.com (subscription site).

No. 5 AP/No. 6 ESPN/USA Today ALABAMA (22-4 OVERALL, 10-2 SEC):

  • F- 35 Erwin Dudley 6-8, 260, JR, Uniontown 15.8 ppg/8.9 rpg
  • C- 42 Kenny Walker 6-9, 230, JR, Jacksonville, Florida 8.7 ppg/5.9 rpg
  • G- 21 Rod Grizzard 6-8, 200, JR, Birmingham 14.3 ppg/5.7 rpg
  • G- 14 Terrance Meade 6-2, 190, JR, Scottsboro 9.2 ppg/3.3 rpg
  • G- 25 Mo Williams 6-1, 185, FR, Jackson, Mississippi 10.0 ppg/3.8 rpg/4.6 assists per game
  • Head Coach: Mark Gottfried (Alabama, 1987)

No. 8 AP/No. 8 ESPN/USA Today FLORIDA (20-5 OVERALL, 9-4 SEC)

  • F- 15 Matt Bonner 6-10, 237, JR, Concord, New Hampshire 16.2 ppg/7.3 rpg
  • F- 01 Orien Greene 6-4, 200, SO, Gainesville, Florida 5.6 ppg/2.7 rpg
  • C- 50 Udonis Haslem 6-10, 246, SR, Miami, Florida 16.5 ppg/8.6 rpg
  • G- 10 Brett Nelson 6-4, 182, JR, St. Albans, West Virginia 14.5 ppg/2.3 rpg/3.4 assists per game
  • G- 12 Justin Hamilton 6-3, 207, JR, Sarasota, Florida 8.4 ppg/3.3 rpg/3.9 assists per game
  • HeadCoach: Billy Donovan (Providence, 1987)

THE HEAD COACHES

ALABAMA: Mark Gottfried; 145-71 (.672%) in 7 (6 complete) seasons overall, 77-47 (.621%) in 4th season at Alabama; 2 NCAA appearances (1997 & 1998) at Murray State; 3 NIT appearances ( 1996 at MSU, 1999 & 2001 at UA); Four 20-win seasons (out of 7) as a head coach; Assistant for UCLA's 1995 NCAA Champions team; 3 NCAA Sweet 16 appearances as a UA player 1985-86-87; Academic All-SEC at Alabama...Born January 20, 1964 in Crestline, Ohio.

FLORIDA: Billy Donovan; 157-81 (.660%) in 8 (7 complete) seasons overall, 122-61 (.667%) in his 6th season at Florida; 3 straight NCAA tournament appearances at Florida, including 2000 national championship game; 1999 & 2000 Sweet 16; 2 SEC Championships in 2000 and 2001

KEY GAME NOTES

  • The two head coaches, Alabama's Mark Gottfried and Florida's Billy Donovan, once played against one another in the 1987 NCAA tournament (Gottfried as UA player, Donovan as a player at Providence)
  • 1,000 Rod Grizzard bobblehead dolls will be given out to the first to arrive inside
  • Alabama leads the overall series against Florida 70-48 and is 44-13 vs. the Gators in Tuscaloosa
  • The Tide and the Gators are battling for the SEC regular season title. Alabama has a one game lead at 10-3; Florida is 9-4. Both have three regular season games remaining, Alabama with Florida, Auburn & Ole Miss; Florida with Alabama, Tennessee & Kentucky
  • Double trouble on the floor on both sides of the bench with the two men who lead the SEC in double-doubles, Erwin Dudley (13) of Alabama and Udonis Haslem has had 10 double doubles

Comparing the stats

                   Alabama    Florida

Current Streak        L 1        W 1
Scoring Average      78.0       83.3
Opponents Scoring    65.9       66.4
Scoring Margin      +12.1      +16.9
Rebound Average      40.2       39.5
Rebound Margin      +4.8       +5.2
Field Goal %        .444       .480
3-Pt FG %           .308       .345
Free Throw %        .721       .700
Personal Fouls       496        471
Assists/Average    368/13.6   439/17.6
Turnovers/Average  369/13.7   376/15.0  
Blocks/Average      97/3.6    119/4.8
Steals/Average     213/7.9    271/10.8

Some Lucky Fans Will Take Home Grizzard Bobblehead

The first 1,000 fans through the gate at Saturday's Alabama vs. Florida game will receive a Tide hoops treasure-a Rod Grizzard bobblehead doll. An Erwin Dudley bobblehead doll was given away at the January 19 Mississippi State game. Alabama is believed to be the first university to feature specific players as bobblehead doll giveaways.

Saturday Marks a Top 10 Showdown

Two of the nation's best teams converge for battle in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is ranked No. 5 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the coaches poll which is administered by ESPN/USA Today. Florida is ranked No. 8 in both polls.

It's the third time this season Alabama has played a team ranked among the Top 10 on game day. Alabama played Missouri (in Kansas City) in the Guardians Classic semifinal in November. Missouri, then ranked No. 5 AP/No. 9 coaches poll, edged Alabama 75-68. Kentucky was ranked No. 8 AP/No. 9 coaches poll when Alabama beat the Cats in Lexington 64-61 on January 26.

Alabama has a 3-2 record this season when playing Top 25 ranked teams. The wins include Memphis, Georgia and Kentucky; the losses were to Missouri (in Kansas City, Missouri) and UCLA (in Anaheim, California, at the John R. Wooden Classic).

It's Been A While Since Two Top 10's In T-Town

The last time Alabama was ranked in the top 10 and hosted an opponent who was also ranked in the top 10 was on January 8, 1983. (The year before Mark Gottfried transferred to Alabama as a player). Alabama was ranked No. 5 in the January 4, 1983 Associated Press Rankings, and its Coleman Coliseum Saturday night date, Kentucky, was ranked No. 3. Alabama, coached by Wimp Sanderson, won that game 74-67.

Two Former Teammates Re-Unite in This Series

Two former high school teammates re-unite each season for this Alabama vs. Florida series. Crimson Tide junior starting center Kenny Walker and Florida senior center Udonis Haslem were once teammates at Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Walker graduated from Wolfson. Haslem, a year older, transferred to Miami Senior High School after his sophomore year. The two have remained friends over the years and enjoy catching up each year when the Tide and Gators play.

And Speaking of Walker & Florida...

While this marks the fourth time his fellow junior classmen will have faced Florida since they all arrived on campus three years ago, Saturday's game will mark only the third Tide-Gator clash that Florida native Kenny Walker has played. When Alabama played Florida in Tuscaloosa Walker's freshman year, he was in the middle of healing from a stress fracture in his left tibia. Among the 10 games he missed that freshman season was the Florida game.

Dudley & Haslem Highlight Talent on the Floor

If you like it when a player gets a double-double, you're chances of seeing that happen are doubled on Saturday. The SEC's two leaders in double-double production are playing one another.

Alabama junior forward Erwin Dudley leads the SEC this season with 13 double doubles (32 career) in points and rebounding. Next in line is Florida senior center Udonis Haslem who has had 10 of those this season.

No Wooden Nickels, But Three Wooden Candidates

Three men whose names are among the list of official candidates for the John R. Wooden Award are playing in Saturday's game. Alabama junior guard Rod Grizzard was officially added to the list this past week. He joins the midseason list that includes Florida's Matt Bonner and Udonis Haslem. The John R. Wooden Award winner is given to the man considered to be the national player of the year.

Both Coaches up for National Coach of Year

The walls of Coleman Coliseum will hold two men who were named this week to the list of 25 Naismith College Coach of the Year finalists. The finalists include Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried and Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

Alabama has rocketed into the nation's Top 5, a big jump for a team that didn't make it to the NCAA tournament last season. (Alabama went on to win its way to the NIT Championship game). Along the way to Alabama's 22-5 record and top five ranking, Gottfried's mark on the program this season includes producing two NABC All-District players in Rod Grizzard and Erwin Dudley, going into the final week of SEC regular season play as the league overall leader, selling out Alabama's final three home games, setting a single season record for home wins at 15-just to name a few accomplishments.

Two Coaches Once Played Against One Another

Crimson Tide head coach Mark Gottfried and Gator coach Billy Donovan once played against one another their senior seasons in college. The pair met up on the court in Louisville, Ky., at the 1987 NCAA Southeast Regional. Gottfried was a player for Alabama. Donovan played for Providence. Providence beat Alabama 103-82, led by 26 points from Donovan. Gottfried, a starting guard for the Tide, scored 14 points, including four 3-point baskets, before he fouled out of the game.

Alabama is Series Leader

Saturday marks the 119th meeting in men's basketball between Alabama and Florida. Alabama leads the series 70 wins to 48 series wins by Florida. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama leads 44-13 and Alabama leads 6-2 in games played on neutral courts. Florida leads 33-19 in Gainesville. Alabama's last win against the Gators was in 1998 when a top 10 ranked Gator team came into Tuscaloosa and left with 80-66 loss.

Tide One Game Up in SEC Title Chase

Alabama would have to win both its home games against Florida and Auburn to win the 2002 Southeastern Conference regular season.

Going into this weekend's round of games, Alabama has a one-game lead over Florida in the overall SEC standings. The Tide is 10-3 overall and 5-3 in the Western Division. Florida, leader in the Eastern Division, is 9-4 overall and 6-2 in divisional play.

A Title Would Put Gottfried in Player/Coach Fraternity

Should Alabama win the SEC regular season, Mark Gottfried would join an elite fraternity that includes three other men who were SEC players who later coached an SEC team (two of three their alma mater) to the league title. The group includes Joel Eaves (won/played at Auburn), Joe B. Hall (won/played at Kentucky), and C.M. Newton (won at Alabama, played at Kentucky).

Tide Figures Into This Week's Best NCAA Stats

In the NCAA's stats released on February 18, 2002, Alabama ranked No. 24 in the nation in field goal percentage defense. It ranked 12th in scoring margin, T-9th in won-lost percentage and tied for 6th in home court winning streaks. Erwin Dudley ranked 13th nationally in field goal percentage (the best of anyone in the SEC).

Williams Continues to Champion Freshman of Year Cause

Mo Williams' play continues to speak loudly regarding his candidacy for the SEC's Freshman of the Year. The Jackson, Miss., native has started in all 27 games for the No. 5 ranked Crimson Tide, averaging 10.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. Among all players in the league, he ranks among the top 10 in assists (3rd) and steals (8th), and assist/turnover ratio (9th). And he's an 82% free throw shooter (55 of 67).

Among his freshman peers in the SEC, Williams leads them all in assists, steals and free throw percentage and ranks second among all freshmen in scoring (by .4).

Williams is producing some very un-freshman like performances in some of the nation's toughest venues. In his first ever trip to Rupp Arena, Williams scored 13 points against Kentucky, making six of his nine shots attempted. Against Missouri, in Kansas City, he scored 12 and he had 13 against Memphis (in Kansas City)

Shelton A Light On a Dark Arkansas Night

Had Alabama defeated Arkansas on Wednesday night, it would have clinched at least a share in the SEC Western Division championship. But that was not to be on that mid-week night in Fayetteville as Alabama lost 67-59.

Among the few bright spots for Alabama was the play of freshman guard Earnest Shelton. Shelton came off the bench to play 25 minutes. During that 25 minutes, he scored 18 points. That means that in his last two games-at Arkansas and at home against Tennessee-the Memphis native is averaging 19.5 points. (He scored 21 against Tennessee off the bench). His other scoring sprees this season have include 21 in the first meeting against Arkansas, 17 against Jacksonville State, 15 against Mississippi Valley State, and 10 against Ole Miss. He made 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range in Alabama's January 30th Arkansas game. And, in his collegiate debut against MVSU, he was 5 of 10 from 3-point range.


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