Bama/Florida game notes

The No. 22 AP/No. 21 ESPN/USA Today ranked University of Alabama men's basketball team continues its two-game road stint with the second of the two games. The Crimson Tide, 13-6 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play, travels to the home of the No. 1 ranked University of Florida Gators, 18-3 overall and 7-1 in league play.

Alabama played on the road at midweek, traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., where it fell 81-70 to Arkansas.

Florida is returning home from the road, having played a Tuesday night game at Kentucky and also falling---it's first loss after winning 14 straight---70-55.

UPCOMING GAME: at No. 1 Florida
Saturday, February 8, 2003
Stephen F. O'Connell Center (12,000)

TIP-OFF TIME: 12:00 noon CT/1:00 p.m. ET

TICKETS: Sold Out

TV: CBS with Billy Packer and Verne Lundquist

UA WEEKLY TV: "The Mark Gottfried Show" on CSS with host Tom Roberts, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. CT
"Crimson Tide This Week" with host David Crane: Check local listings on CSS

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

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 Starters

No.22 AP/No. 20 ESPN ALABAMA (13-6 OVERALL, 3-5 SEC):

PF-35, Erwin Dudley, 6-8, 260, SR, Uniontown, 14.4 ppg/10.0 rpg
F- 02, Emmett Thomas, 6-4, 205, JR/TR, Birmingham, 6.8 ppg/2.2 rpg
C- 42, Kenny Walker, 6-9, 220, SR, Jacksonville, Florida, 11.1 ppg/6.0 rpg
G- 14, Terrance Meade, 6-2, 190, SR, Scottsboro, 4.3 ppg/2.8 rpg
G- 25, Mo Williams, 6-1, 195, SO, Jackson, Mississippi, 15.2 ppg/3.9 rpg/4.3 apg

NO. 1 FLORIDA (18-3 OVERALL, 7-1 SEC)

F- 15, Matt Bonner, 6-10, 237, SR, Concord, New Hampshire, 13.9 ppg/6.0 rpg
F- 44, Matt Walsh, 6-6, 205, FR, Holland, Pennsylvania, 14.2 ppg/4.6 rpg
C- 24, David Lee, 6-9, 240, SO, St. Louis, Missouri, 10.6 ppg/7.0 rpg
G- 10, Brett Nelson, 6-4, 205, SR, St. Albans, West Virginia, 7.5 ppg/1.9 rpg
G- 12, Justin Hamilton, 6-3, 207, SR, Sarasota, Florida, 8.2 ppg/3.5 rpg/4.2 apg

Head Coaches

Alabama Head Coach MARK GOTTFRIED: 164-80 (.672) in 7 complete seasons overall, 95-55 (.633%) 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.

Florida Head Coach BILLY DONOVAN: 177-88 (.668%) in 9 seasons overall, 142-68 (.676%) in 7th season at Florida; Made history at Florida this week, coaching Gators to 1st No. national ranking; Marshall Head Coach 1994-96; 4 NCAA tournament appearances at Florida.

Key Game Notes

  • Both Florida & Alabama made school history this season by reaching first No. 1 AP national rankings
  • These two head coaches played against one another in the 1987 NCAA tournament
  • Alabama leads the overall series against Florida 70-48
  • Florida leads the series, 33-19 in Gainesville
  • Alabama's last win in Gainesville was in 1995 (Bama has only played 3 games there since)
  • Alabama and Florida are 5-5 vs. one another beginning in 1995

Alabama vs. No. 1 Ranked Teams

Alabama is playing the top ranked Gators on Saturday. Alabama has played a team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll 10 times previously and has a 3-7 record against the top ranked team.

Its most recent win vs. No. 1 was on January 8, 1994 (Tide assistant Philip Pearson was a UA senior on that team) when Alabama beat a No. 1 ranked Arkansas in Tuscaloosa 66-64. That game was also the last time Alabama met up with a No. 1 ranked team.

Alabama Working on Rise in League Standings

Alabama won the 2002 Southeastern Conference regular season and Western Division titles, posting a 12-4 overall league record. Going into this weekend's round of games in the league, Alabama trails Auburn (5-3/3-0) and Mississippi State (4-4/2-2) in the West. The Tide is 3-5 overall/3-3 in the West (wins vs. Arkansas, Mississippi State and LSU, losses to Arkansas, Auburn & Ole Miss in the West and Vanderbilt and Kentucky from the East.

Alabama Leads Series; Florida Leads at Home

Because they compete in different divisions of the SEC, Alabama and Florida play one another but one time each regular season and take turns hosting each year.

Saturday's meeting will be the 120th between these two teams in a series that dates to Tuscaloosa an d1927 when Alabama won that first ever game in the series 49-44. Since that time, Alabama has collected a 71-48 series lead.

Following is a quick series breakdown:

Series Record: Alabama 71 wins, Florida 48 wins
Streak: Alabama won the last one
In Tuscaloosa: Alabama leads 45 wins to 13 Florida wins
In Gainesville: Florida leads 33-19
Neutral Sites: Alabama leads 6-2

1995 Marked Last UA Win in Gainesville

The last time Alabama beat Florida in Gainesville was 1995 in a stat that is misleading on the surface. Although that was eight years ago, Alabama has only played in Gainesville three times since, in 1997 (an 85-66 loss), 1999 (a 72-68 loss) and 2001 (an 89-68 loss). In the last ten games between the two schools, the series is knotted at 5-5. Alabama won in 1995 and 1996. Florida won the regular season game in 1997, but Alabama won in a 1997 SEC tournament game followed by a 1998 home win. Florida then won four straight in 1999, 2000 and both meetings (regular season and SEC tournament) in 2001 before Alabama snapped the streak last season with its 65-64 win in Tuscaloosa.

Bama's 2002 Win vs. Gators Won SEC Title

The last time Alabama and Florida met, both teams were ranked in the top 10 and the SEC title was on the line. And it was on CBS. Florida, ranked NO. 8 AP, came into Tuscaloosa with a 9-4 SEC record on February 23, 2002. Alabama, then No. 5 in the country, was 10-2. Both had three regular season games remaining but an Alabama win against the Gators would ensure at least a share in the regular season championship.

Alabama's Erwin Dudley made two free throws with 53 seconds remaining in the game to give Alabama a 63-62 lead---Alabama's first lead of the second half. Florida's Orien Greene put Florida back on top 13 second later by making a jump shot. The final seconds found Florida's Matt Bonner stripping the ball from Bama's Kenny Walker followed by, with 16 seconds remaining, the Gators' James White missing the front end of a 1-and-1. Bama's Mo Williams grabbed the rebound from the miss and dribbled up the court, dishing the ball to his fellow freshman, Earnest Shelton. Two Gator defenders surrounded Shelton. Shelton leapt up to take a shot but instead spotted his teammate, Antoine Pettway, along under the basket. Shelton tossed the ball to Pettway who laid it off the glass just as the buzzer sounded to give Alabama the 65-64 win.

Donovan Leads 4-1 vs. Gottfried

Saturday's game marks the sixth time Tide head coach Mark Gottfried and Florida head coach Billy Donovan have matched strategies at courtside. Donovan is 4-1 against Gottfried. The two teams met twice in 2001, first in Gainesville then four games later in the SEC tournament quarterfinal round in Nashville, Tenn. Florida, then ranked No. 7, won 89-68 in Gainesville against a then No. 14 ranked Tide team. Alabama fell 69-61 in the SEC tournament game. Florida won 77-73 in 2000---freshman season for Bama's Erwin Dudley, Terrance Meade and Kenny Walker---and in Gottfried's first season at Alabama, Florida won 72-68 in Gainesville in 1999. Gottfried collected his first win against Donovan---and a win he'll remember a lifetime as it was for all the marbles in winning his first SEC Championship as a coach at Alabama---in 2002 in Tuscaloosa 65-64.

Wooden Floor Will Hold (John R.) Wooden Candidates

The court at the O'Connell center will play host to two John R. Wooden Player of the Year candidates on Saturday playing on opposite sides of the ball. Alabama senior power forward Erwin Dudley and Florida senior forward Matt Bonner were among the list of names released earlier this week as candidates for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team-Midseason Top 30.

Dudley is amidst a college career that will find him listed as one of Alabama's greatest all-time players. The Uniontown native, who scored a career high 29 points at Arkansas on Wednesday night, ranks among the top 10 in all-time scoring and top 5 in all-time rebounding at Alabama. The 2002 SEC Player of the Year has led the SEC in rebounding for three straight seasons, including 2003. He's averaging 14.4 points and 10.0 rebounds after 19 games this season.

Bonner is averaging 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds was All-SEC 2nd team in 2002.

BOTH basketball stars are Academic All-SEC award winners as Dudley will receive the award this season for maintaining a 3.0 and higher GPA.

Walker Returns to Home State

Alabama senior forward/center Kenny Walker returns to his home state to play in this Saturday's game. The Jacksonville native is arriving to see family and friends just days after celebrating his 23rd birthday (born February 4, 1980 in Jacksonville).

A one-time high school teammate of former Gator Udonis Haslem at Wolfson, Walker, a projected starter Saturday, had to miss Alabama's tilt with the Gators his freshman year. He amidst a 10-game healing period, trying to overcome a stress fracture that required doctors to insert a 16-inch rod inserted into his left tibia. Among those games he missed was the Florida game in Tuscaloosa. He's played in three of the four previous meetings.

Dudley Scores Career Best in Fayetteville Wednesday

Trailing 33-18 at halftime, Alabama needed a spark in its game at Arkansas on Wednesday night. Although team fell by 11 in the end, the game's second half found a super-producer in senior forward Erwin Dudley. Dudley scored 17 of his career high 29 points in the second half. He ended the game with numbers that included making seven of nine shots from the field and 15 of 16 free throws. He also had six rebounds and two blocks.

Dudley Blocks Out Horry For No. 10 Scoring Spot

Erwin Dudley's 29 points at Arkansas on Wednesday night moved him into sole possession of 10th-place all-time in scoring at Alabama. Originally tied at week's beginning with five time NBA World Champion Robert Horry (1989-92) with 1,591 career points, Dudley now has 1,620 career points. His next shot is Bobby Lee Hurt (1982-85) who scored 1,697 points and is in 9th place. Dudley needs 77 to tie Hurt.

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