Hogs Are Conference OpenerAlabama begins its quest for the Southeastern Conference championship on Wednesday night when it plays host to Arkansas. Alabama is the defending SEC regular season champion, finishing at 12-4 in regular season league play last season, 2002. Alabama also won the SEC Western Division championship, going 6-4 in divisional play.
The Tide has won seven SEC regular season and six SEC tournament championships in men's basketball.
Georgia and LSU opened the 2003 league schedule on Sunday, January 5 in Athens where Georgia won 89-63. Wednesday night's round of games (Florida is at Mississippi State on Tuesday) also includes Ole Miss at South Carolina, Vanderbilt at Auburn and Kentucky at Tennessee.
UPCOMING GAME: Arkansas
Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Coleman Coliseum (15,316)
TIP-OFF TIME: 7:00 p.m. CT
UA HOME TICKETS: Non-Conference: $15 adults/$8 youth (age 15 & under);
SEC $17 adults/$8 youth
At UA box office in Coleman Coliseum; or 205-348-BAMA; or www.rolltide.com
TV: WVUA (Tuscaloosa area) with Gary Harris
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)
105.5 FM in Tuscaloosa & 99.5 in Birmingham (complete list on www.rolltide.com)
WVUA (University of Alabama campus station), 90.7 FM (when classes are in session)
INTERNET: Live audio of CTSN's radio broadcast is available on the internet on www.rolltide.com;
UA basketball is also featured on on www.markgottfried.com
Probable StartersNo. 4 AP, No. 4 ESPN ALABAMA (10-1 OVERALL, 0-0 SEC):
PF- 35, Erwin Dudley, 6-8, 260, SR, Uniontown, 13.9 ppg/10.2 rpg
F- 02, Emmett Thomas*, 6-4, 205, JR/TR, Birmingham, 6.0 ppg/2.0 rpg
C- 42, Kenny Walker, 6-9, 220, SR, Jacksonville, Florida, 12.7 ppg/6.4 rpg
G- 14, Terrance Meade, 6-2, 190, SR, Scottsboro, 6.0 ppg/3.0 rpg
G- 25, Mo Williams, 6-1, 195, SO, Jackson, Mississippi, 16.4 ppg/4.3 rpg/5.0 apg
ARKANSAS (5-6 OVERALL, 0-0 SEC)
F- 33, Dionisio Gomez, 6-8, 218, SR, Panama City, Florida, 9.3 ppg/7.4 rpg
F- 04, Carl Baker, 6-8, 206, SR, Palestine, Arkansas, 3.0 ppg/5.1 rpg
G- 11, Eric Ferguson, 6-1, 196, FR, Long Island, NY, 12.4 ppg/3.5 rpg/3.6 apg
G- 24, Jonathon Modica, 6-4, 198, FR, Smackover, Arkansas, 11.5 ppg/4.5 rpg
C- 31, Alonzo Lane, 6-7, 248, SR, Canton, Mississippi, 6.5 ppg/4/4 rpg
Head CoachesAlabama Head Coach MARK GOTTFRIED: 161-75 (.682%) in 7 complete seasons overall, 92-50 (.648%) in 5th season (4 completed) at Alabama; 2002 SEC Coaches & AP SEC "Coach of the Year"; three 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; three conference championships at Murray State; Four 20-win seasons (out of 7) as a head coach; Assistant for UCLA's 1995 NCAA Champions team; three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances as a UA player 1985-86-87; Academic All-SEC as a player at Alabama...Coached Bama to its 1st No. 1 ranking...Born January 20, 1964 in Crestline, Ohio.
Arkansas Head Coach STAN HEATH: 35-12 (.745%) in 2 seasons overall; 5-6 (.833%) in 1st season at Arkansas; 2002 NCAA Elite 8 as head coach at Kent State; 2002 MAC Coach of the Year
Key Game Notes
- Alabama and Arkansas open the 2003 SEC season in this game; Bama is the defending SEC Champion
- Arkansas head coach Stan Heath coached Kent State last season, the team Alabama played in the NCAA tournament Rd. 2
- National/SEC Player of the Year candidate Erwin Dudley is the only player in the league averaging in double digits in scoring (13.9) and rebounding (10.2)
- Alabama, winner of 26 straight at home, trails the Arkansas series 20-14
Bama 2nd in League in SEC Wins ProductionAlabama opens the SEC season as one of only two SEC teams to log 600 or more wins in Southeastern Conference head-to-head play. Alabama has 647 SEC regular season wins. (Kentucky leads the league with 780 SEC regular season wins).
Tide's Non-Conference Record Grows Even StrongerSaturday's Xavier game marked the final regular season non-conference game for the Crimson Tide. Alabama went 10-1 in non-conference league play this season. That gives the program. Seven of those wins came at home in Coleman Coliseum.
That gives Alabama a 137-10 all-time home non-conference record which is good for a .932 winning percentage in Coleman Coliseum.
The single season home wins record, conference and non-conference, is 17. Alabama set that record last season when it went 17-0 at home.
Tide Had Played 14 at This Point Last SeasonWhen Alabama opened league play last season, it was 12-2 overall and went on to a 27-8 overall record. Alabama is 10-1 going into SEC play this season.
Thomas's Status "Questionable"The playing status for junior Emmett Thomas is listed as "questionable" for the Arkansas game. Thomas sprained his left patella (knee) during the Xavier game on Saturday, January 4. Thomas returned to practice on a slightly limited basis on Monday when the team re-convened for its first practice after that game. His playing status will be determined on game day (giving it more time to see how it has healed to that point). Should he not start against Arkansas, sophomore guard Earnest Shelton would likely step in as the starter against Arkansas.
Thomas, who played at South Alabama as a freshman in 2001 and at Beville State Community College last season, has started in five games for the Tide this season. He's averaging 6.0 points and 2.0 rebounds. Shelton has started in six games this season and averages 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Different Team, Same Coach Who Bama Last Saw in 2002The man who coaches the team Alabama opens its league play against in 2003 is the same man who coached the team that Alabama closed its 2002 season against.
Stan Heath is in his first season as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Heath was the head coach at Kent State last season. Kent State is the team Alabama met in the second round of the 2002 NCAA tournament. Kent State won that game 71-58 and would advance on to the NCAA Elite Eight where former Tide player Mike Davis and his Indiana team eliminated Kent State.
Arkansas Leads the SeriesWednesday night's game between Alabama and Arkansas marks the 35th meeting between these two teams. Arkansas leads the series 20-14. The series began in Memphis in 1948 with the Razorbacks winning 42-35. Arkansas won the first three games (1948, 1950 and 1951) before Alabama celebrated its first series victory in 1955 in Houston.
These two teams are both placed in the SEC Western Division so they play one another twice a season, home and road. Last season the two teams split with Alabama winning 109-84 in Tuscaloosa but falling 67-59 in Fayetteville.
Dudley Has Key SEC Leading StatsTide senior Erwin Dudley, who was the only player in the SEC to average double digits in both scoring and rebounding in 2001 and who has led the SEC in rebounding the past two years, continues to lead the league in rebounding. He's averaging 10.2 boards a game.
The Uniontown native, who was the SEC Player of the Year in 2002, is the only player in the SEC who is averaging in double digits in both scoring and rebounding again in 2003. Dudley is averaging 13.9 points a game. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds in Alabama's 65-58 win against then No. 19 Xavier on Saturday.
Tide at No. 4 in Both PollsAfter spending the last two weeks as the nation's No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press rankings, a two point loss at Utah and a win against No. 19 Xavier dropped Alabama to No. 4 in the AP poll. Alabama dropped one notch in the ESPN/USA Today rankings as well to No. 4. Duke, Arizona and UConn, in that order, are the nation's top three ranked teams this week.
Both Teams Have Three Averaging Double DigitsBoth Alabama and Arkansas have three starters who are averaging in double digits in scoring. Alabama's scoring is led by, in order, sophomore guard Mo Williams at 16.4 points per game, senior forward Erwin Dudley at 13.9 points per game and senior center/forward Kenny Walker at 12.7 points per game.
Arkansas is led by freshman point guard Eric Ferguson's 12.4 points per game, freshman guard Kendrick Davis's 12.2 points a game and freshman guard/forward Jonathan "Pookie" Modica's 11.5 points a game.
Arkansas Affected Home StreakThe last time Alabama lost a game in Coleman Coliseum was on February 28, 2001. Arkansas beat Alabama 66-63 on that date, spoiling an otherwise perfect home season that year. Alabama was 17-1 at home in 2001. Alabama hasn't lost a home game since and has a 26-game home win streak going into the Arkansas game.
Thomas Officially Ages Morning AfterThe morning after the Arkansas game, Tide junior Emmett Thomas will wake up having officially aged. Thomas was born on January 9, 1982. He'll turn 21 on Thursday.
Gottfried 4-4 Against HogsAlabama head coach Mark Gottfried is 4-4 against Arkansas as Alabama's head coach, winning the first three times the two teams played one another after he was hired in March 1998. As Murray State's head coach, Gottfried coached Murray to a win against the Razorbacks.
He has experienced the series as a player as well. And won. Before Arkansas joined the SEC, Alabama and Arkansas played one another in Birmingham in December 1986, his senior season at Alabama. Gottfried started at guard in that game and scored 7 points, made three rebounds and had two steals in the 87-76 Alabama win.
Williams Is Seeing Double Digits OnlyAfter 11 games, Mo Williams has yet to have a game where he hasn't scored less than 11 points in a game. He's leading Alabama with 16.4 points a game, a stat that ranks 8th in the league. The Jackson, Miss., native has scored 20 or more points in three games with 25 to open his sophomore year against now No. 9 Oklahoma, 20 against Alabama State and 21 against Morehead State.
Williams ranks third in the SEC in free throw percentage at 82.7%, having made 43 of 52 of his foul shots.