Bama/OK basketball game notes

The No. 8 University of Alabama travels to New York's Madison Square Garden to officially open its 2002-03 regular season. Alabama, the 2002 Southeastern Conference Champions, plays 2002 NCAA Final Four participant and No. 3 ranked Oklahoma in the AT&T Wireless Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Thursday, November 14, 2002.

Tide Opens the Season Thursday Night Against Sooners

The game will be televised by ESPN2 with a crew that includes Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale as well as Digger Phelps and Alabama graduate Rece Davis.

The event features two nights of basketball. Syracuse and Memphis opens the event at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET followed by the Tide and the Sooners. That game will begin around 8:30 CT/9:30 ET.

On Friday, November 15th, Villanova and Marquette play at 5:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. ET followed by Texas vs. Georgia. The Georgia team is led by Jim Harrick. Harrick gave Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried his first coaching job back at UCLA, a pairing the culminated with the 1995 NCAA Championship.

Upcoming Game

AT&T Wireless Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
8:30 p.m. CT/9:30 p.m. ET
(Follows the 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET Syracuse vs. Memphis game)

TICKETS: Ticketmaster 212-307-7171; $25-$75 (higher price includes all games)

TELEVISION: ESPN2 with Jay Bilas & Dick Vitale; studio on site with Rece Davis and Digger Phelps

UA WEEKLY TV: "Crimson Tide This Week" with host David Crane: Check local listings on CSS; "The Mark Gottfried Show" on CSS beginning in January with host Tom Roberts

RADIO: Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart (play by play) and Tom Roberts (color)

INTERNET: Live audio of CTSN's radio broadcast is available on the internet on; UA basketball is also featured on on and (subscription site).

Probable Starters


PF-35 Erwin Dudley 6-8, 260, SR, Uniontown 15.2 ppg/8.9 rpg in 2002
C-42 Kenny Walker 6-9, 220, SR, Jacksonville, Florida 9.2 ppg/5.5 rpg in 2002
G-05 Earnest Shelton 6-3, 205, SO, Memphis, Tennessee 6.1 ppg/1.8 rpg in 2002
G-14 Terrance Meade 6-2, 190, SR, Scottsboro 8.4 ppg/3.1 rpg in 2002
G-25 Mo Williams 6-1, 195, SO, Jackson, Mississippi 10.4 ppg/3.9 rpg/4.5 assists per game
Head Coach: Mark Gottfried (Alabama, 1987)

No. 3 AP OKLAHOMA SOONERS (0-0 Overall, 0-0 Big 12)

F-34 Kevin Bookout 6-8, 260, FR, Stroud, Oklahoma
C-21 Jabahri Brown 6-10, 210, JR, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands/FIU 4.8 ppg/5.7 rpg in 2002
G-02 Ebi Ere 6-5, 215, SR, Tulsa, Oklahoma 14.6 ppg/5.8 rpg in 2002
G-04 Quannas White 6-1, 190, SR, New Orleans, Louisiana/Midland CC 7.6 ppg/2.7 rpg/4.7apg 2002
G-10 Hollis Price 6-1, 170, SR, New Orleans, Louisiana 16.5 ppg/3.1 rpg in 2002
Head Coach: Kelvin Sampson (Pembroke State, 1978)

Head Coaches

Alabama: MARK GOTTFRIED: 150-74 (.670%) in 7 complete seasons overall, 82-49 (.626%) in 5th season (4 completed) at Alabama; 2002 SEC Coaches & AP SEC Coach of the Year; 3 total NCAA tournament appearances, one at Alabama (2002, 2nd round), 2 (1997 & 1998) at Murray State; 3 NIT appearances ( 1996 at MSU, 1999 & 2001 at UA); One SEC Championship (2002) at Alabama; 3 conference championships at Murray State; 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 as a player at Alabama...Born January 20, 1964 in Crestline, Ohio.

Oklahoma: KELVIN SAMPSTON: 363-222 (.621%) in 19 complete seasons overall, 187-74 (.716%) in eight complete seasons at OU; Begins 20th season overall this season, ninth at OU; 2002 NCAA Final Four; eight straight NCAA tournament appearances with Oklahoma, four Final Four appearances. 1995 National Coach of the Year

Key Game Notes

  • Season opener for both Alabama and Oklahoma
  • Event match-ups include Syracuse vs. Memphis (6 p.m. CT) followed by Alabama vs. Oklahoma on Thursday, November 14. Villanova plays Marguette (5:30 p.m. CT) followed by Texas vs. Georgia on Friday, November 15
  • Game pits two top-10 teams in No. 3 Oklahoma & No. 8 Alabama

Tickets Available Through Ticketmaster NY

Tickets for the AT&T Wireless Coaches vs. Cancer Classic are sold through Ticketmaster and the Madison Square Garden box office. Prices range from $25-$75. To order tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at 212-307-7171. There is a link to order the tickets on the internet on the website for this event

Oklahoma Leads Series

Thursday night's game will mark the fourth time Alabama and Oklahoma have played one another in men's basketball-and none of those times has been pleasant for the Tide. Alabama is 0-3 against the Sooners. The first meeting came in 1971 in Tuscaloosa. Oklahoma won that game 78-70. The following year, 1972, Alabama traveled to Oklahoma on to lose this on 79-73. And in 1998, David Hobbs' last season as Alabama's head coach, Oklahoma beat Alabama 79-61 in Oklahoma City at the All-College Classic with country music star Vince Gill sitting on Oklahoma's bench.

(None of the Tide's current players or coaching staff members were a part of the team then).

Two Back, One Not From Last Week's Injury Bug

They'd made it almost the entire preseason without any problems, but practice on November 6 took a toll of three players, sending guards Antoine Pettway (right knee), Earnest Shelton (left foot) and Jason Reese (broken nose), to the bench when the Tide played its November 7 exhibition game against Athletes in Action. Pettway and Shelton are expected to return to the lineup against Oklahoma. Reese, a walkon, will not as nose surgery early in the week will sideline him indefinitely.

Happy Birthday to Us This Week

Pick nearly any day this week and someone associated with this Tide team will be celebrating a birthday. Reggie Rambo kicked off the week on Monday. He was born November 11, 1980; Head manager Clay Pruitt was born November 12, 1980; Antoine Pettway was born November 13, 1982; on game day against Oklahoma Terrance Meade will turn 22 (born November 14, 1980). And on Friday Earnest Shelton will celebrate a birthday. He was born November 15, 1982.

Two Newcomers of the Year on Floor Thursday Night

Two men who made an immediate impact in their conferences will be on the court on Thursday night playing one another. Alabama sophomore guard Mo Williams was the SEC Freshman of the Year and the Sporting News' Freshman of the Year last season. Oklahoma's senior guard Ebi Ere was the 2002 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

Williams averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists as a freshman last year. Ere, a transfer from Barton County (Kansas) Community College averaged 14.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first season with the Sooners last year.

Sooners Return A Veteran Squad

Ten of the players from Oklahoma's 2002 NCAA Final Four team return this season, four of them starters. Oklahoma finished the 2002 season at 31-5. It won the Big 12 tournament, giving it two and a row, and finished second in the overall conference race.

Alabama Finally Has Veterans As Well

Alabama returns four starters from its 2002 SEC Champions, including a trio of seniors, 2002 SEC Player of the Year Erwin Dudley at power forward, Kenny Walker at center/forward and Terrance Meade at guard. Alabama finished the 2002 season 27-8, winning both the league's regular season and Western division title and advancing to the SEC tournament championship game. Alabama was the No. 2 seed in the South Region at the 2002 NCAA tournament. It beat Florida Atlantic in the opening round and lost to Kent State in the second.

Fans Get To See Wooden Candidates in Action

Three men on the floor Thursday night made the preseason top 50 candidate list for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year. The trio includes Alabama's Erwin Dudley and Oklahoma's Hollis Price and Ebi Ere.

Dudley and Price are both Naismith National Player of the Year official candidates as well. Dudley was AP All-America 3rd team last season.

All totaled there are seven players participating in the event who are John R. Wooden candidates. In addition to Dudley, Ere and Price, there are Texas's T.J. Ford and James Thomas, Marquette's Dwayne Wade and Georgia's Jarvis Hayes.

Tide & Sooners Have Career Scorers

Alabama's Erwin Dudley needs just 245 points this season to break into the University of Alabama's All-Time Top 10 in scoring. (LA Laker Robert Horry currently holds the 10 spot). Dudley begins the season with 1,346 career points (13.5 ppg average).

Likewise Oklahoma's Hollis Price, a senior, is on tract to break into the Sooner's All-Time Top 10 in career scoring. Price begins the season with 1,209 career points. The 10 spot for the Sooners is held by John McCullough, a Big 8 Conference Player of the Year in 1979 who scored 1,507 career points.

The Garden is Familiar Territory to This Tide Team

Playing in Madison Square Garden could arguably be the most exciting venue for a player, but for several members of Alabama's team, it will be familiar territory. Mark Gottfried and crew played there in the NIT Final Four in March 2001. (Alabama fell to Buzz Peterson and Tulsa in the championship game 79-60 after beating Detroit 74-63 in the semifinals).

Tide and Sooners Met in Football This Fall as Well

Tide fans and Oklahoma fans have found themselves cheering this pairing once already this fall. Alabama and Oklahoma played one another in football at Oklahoma on September 7. Oklahoma won the football game 37-27.

A Decade Since Alabama Opened In Top 10

Alabama is opening the 2002-03 ranked No. 8 in both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. The last time Alabama was ranked in the Top 10 at the opening of a season was the 1990-91 season when it started out at No. 7 in the preseason AP poll.

The first time Alabama opened in the AP Top 10 was at No. 6 in the 1955-56 season. It started out at No. 9 in the 1956-57 rankings and at No. 9 in the 1974-75 rankings.

Alabama has finished ranked in the top 10 in 2002 (No. 8 AP), 1987 (No. 9 AP & No. 8 UPI), 1976 (No. 6 AP/No. 7 UPI); 1975 (No. 10 AP/No. 8 UPI) and 1956 (No. 5 AP/No. 5 UPI).

Notable First Games

Alabama has some newcomers on its bench who will be making their Crimson Tide debuts including freshmen Chuck Davis and Evan Brock and transfer Emmett Thomas. The best Tide debut ever occurred in New York at the Lapchick Memorial Classic (hosted by St. John's) where Bama's Eddie Phillips stepped into college hoops by scoring 25 points and grabbing seven rebounds against Wagner to open the 1979 season.

Season Openers Usually Success Stories for Tide

Though opening against another Top 10 team is a rarity, Alabama has been largely successful in its season openers. It has a 74-15 opening night record (.831%). Before losing its season opener to Tennessee-Chattanooga (67-57) to start the 1993-94 season, Alabama won 14 straight season openers. Alabama has won its last two season openers against Troy State (2001) and Mississippi Valley State but lost the openers in 1999 (at Ohio State) and 2000 (Northern Iowa).

Sooners Game Was Preceded by Two Exhibitions

While Thursday night's game against Oklahoma marks the regular season opener for the Crimson Tide, Alabama played two home exhibition games. On November 1 Alabama had a 97-94 win against an impressive EASports team. Tide sophomore guard Mo Williams led the win with 34 points on a shooting spree that found him connecting upon 11 of 19 from the field, including a 6 of 8 performance from 3-point range and 6 of 8 in free throws. National Player of the Year candidate Erwin Dudley had 24 points and 13 rebounds to start off his senior season, hitting 64 percent from the field (9 of 14) and a perfect 6 of 6 at the line. Also making his presence known was senior center/forward Kenny Walker who scored 10 points and blocked three shots in the game.

Alabama played Athletes in Action in its final preseason tune up on November 7. It won 72-71 despite an off-shooting night (24-62 for .387%). Mo Williams again led the Tide, this night with 31 points. He was 10 of 18 from the field and 6 of 10 from 3-point range. Erwin Dudley scored 14 points and had 8 rebounds.

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