Bama/MSU game notes

The University of Alabama men's basketball team remains on the road for a second straight game when the Crimson Tide plays at Mississippi State on Wednesday, February 26. Tip-off in the Bulldogs' Humphrey Coliseum is set for 7:00 p.m. CT.

Alabama, third in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, is 15-8 overall, 5-7 in SEC play. Mississippi State is currently one spot ahead in divisional play at second in the West with a 17-6 overall and 7-5 league record.

Mississippi State is returning home from a two-game road swing where it beat Auburn 63-46 in Auburn on February 19 but lost to Kentucky in Lexington 70-62 on Sunday, February 23.

Alabama is playing its second of two road games before it returns home to host Ole Miss at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 2. The Tide, which has four regular season games remaining on its schedule, played at Tennessee on Saturday, February 22nd and defeated the Vols 76-71.

UPCOMING GAME: at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Humphrey Coliseum (10,500), Starkville, Mississippi
7:00 p.m. CT

TICKETS: $12; call MSU Ticket Office for availability 1-888-GO-DAWGS (1-888-463-2947)

TV: JP with Tim Brando (play by play) and Barry Booker (color analyst)

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 www.markgottfried.com and www.crimsontradition.com

Probable Starters

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (15-8 OVERALL, 5-7 SEC):

F- 35, Erwin Dudley, 6-8, 260, SR, Uniontown, 15.0 ppg/9.7 rpg
F- 03, Kennedy Winston, 6-7, 200, FR, Mobile, 9.7 ppg/4.1 rpg
C- 42, Kenny Walker, 6-9, 220, SR, Jacksonville, Florida, 10.3 ppg/5.6 rpg
G- 50, Antoine Pettway, 6-0, 170, JR, Alberta, 6.0 ppg/2.7 rpg
G- 25, Mo Williams, 6-1, 195, SO, Jackson, Mississippi, 15.6 ppg/3.9 rpg/3.9 apg

No. 20 MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (17-6 OVERALL, 7-5 SEC)

F- 31, Ontario Harper, 6-5, 210, SO, Clinton, Mississippi, 7.7 ppg/5.6 rpg
F- 44, Michal Ignerski, 6-10, 225, SR, Lublin, Poland, 9.7 ppg/5.3 rpg
C- 33, Mario Austin, 6-9, 260, JR, York, Alabama, 16.9 ppg/8.5 rpg
G- 15, Timmy Bowers, 6-2, 180, JR, Gulfport, Mississippi, 14.6 ppg/3.7 rpg
G- 22, Derrick Zimmerman, 6-3, 195, SR, Monroe, Louisiana, 9.0 ppg/4.3 rpg/5.1 apg

Head Coaches

Alabama Head Coach MARK GOTTFRIED: 166-82 (.669) in 7 complete seasons overall, 97-57 (.630%) in 5th season 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.

Mississippi State Head Coach RICK STANSBURY: 96-56 (.631%) in 5th season overall, all at Mississippi State; one NCAA tournament trip and two NIT appearances in four previous seasons as head coach at MSU; 2002 SEC tournament champions

Key Game Notes

  • Erwin Dudley is averaging 20.2 points a game in his last five games
  • Mo Williams is averaging 17.3 points in his last four games
  • Freshman Kennedy Winston is averaging 14.0 in his last four
  • This series dates to Starkville, circa 1913. It's the 169th meeting.
  • Alabama won in overtime in Tuscaloosa 68-62 in the first meeting of 2003 on January 15.
  • Bama leads the series 105-63.
  • MSU leads series 49-32 in Starkville.
  • Alabama's last win in Starkville was 1998 (MSU has won last four vs. Bama in Starkville)
  • Terrance Meade, a fulltime starter since he was a freshman and in 17 games of 21 he's played in 2003, has made the Verizon District 4 Academic All-America team. He's a management major in the business school at Alabama.

Bobbleheads & Lunch Boxes are Upcoming Home Gifts

Early arrivals at Alabama's home games will receive some fun collectables in the next few weeks. Kenny Walker bobble head dolls will be given away to the first 1,000 fans who arrive through the gates at the Ole Miss game on March 2nd , and an even larger group of fans will get a fun souvenir a few days later when UA basketball metal lunch boxes are given away at the South Carolina game on March 5th.

Bama Facing Ranked Team a 7th Time This Season

When Alabama plays No. 20 ranked Mississippi State on Wednesday, it will mark the seventh time Alabama has faced a ranked opponent this season. Alabama is 3-3 versus the Top 25 with wins against then No. 3 Oklahoma, then No. 19 Xavier and then No. 14 Mississippi State and losses to then No. 8 Kentucky, then No. 1 Florida and then No. 22 Georgia.

Of those teams, Kentucky has risen even higher to No. 2 in the AP poll, one spot ahead of No. 3 Oklahoma and two ahead of now No. 4 Florida. Xavier, which, like Oklahoma Alabama defeated, has moved up to No. 13. Georgia is up one spot to No. 21.

CBSSportsline.com rates Alabama seventh in Division I men's basketball in terms of its strength of schedule. It ranks the Tide No. 24 on its RPI.

Alabama has four regular season games remaining on its schedule, though the Bulldogs are the only currently ranked team among that quartet. Alabama follows the Mississippi State game by hosting Ole Miss on Sunday, March 2 at 1 p.m. then South Carolina on March 5 at 7 p.m. It caps its 2003 regular season in Baton Rouge on March 8 where it will play LSU in the season finale.

Dudley's Done Well vs. MSU

Erwin Dudley has the reputation of coming to play in every game he's played in at Alabama, but his game has been particularly strong in this series in the last two years.

In his last four games against the Bulldogs, Dudley has averaged 22 points. In the first meeting 2002, the Uniontown native scored 24 points and had 10 rebounds. In the February 9, 2002 match up in Starkville, despite the Alabama loss, Dudley still had 23 points and 8 rebounds. He scored 18 points in the SEC Championship game against MSU. And this season he led Alabama's January win against the Bulldogs with his 23 points and 8 rebounds.

Two Of Nation's Best Will Be on the Floor

Two men who are considered to be among the best in college basketball will be on opposite benches for this game, John R. Wooden candidates Erwin Dudley of Alabama and Mario Austin of MSU. It's a pride point that Alabama has produced two such talents, not only for the state of Alabama but for a one corner of the state as the two grew up within a couple of hours of one another, Dudley in Uniontown, Alabama and Austin in nearby Sumter County's York, Alabama.

Both Dudley and Austin were voted first team in the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Division I All-District 9 team.

Dudley's Averaging 20 points in Last 5 Games

Because his game is typically solid, sometimes the feats of Alabama's Erwin Dudley go un-noticed. Take for example the scoring performances he's put up in his last five games.

Dudley has averaged 20.2 points a game in Alabama's last five games. He scored 29 at Arkansas, 15 at Florida, 20 against Auburn, 19 against Georgia and 18 at Tennessee. As the season gets even tougher, his stats have been climbing. He's averaging 15.0 points a game going into the Mississippi State game and has a University of Alabama career scoring average of 13.8 points a game.

After 21 games this season, Dudley was the only player in the SEC who averaged in double digits in both scoring and rebounding. He's led the league in rebounding all season---as he did as a sophomore and a junior, making him a threat to "three peat" as the league's rebounding champion again in 2003.

Dudley League Leader in Double Doubles

Mississippi State isn't the only team Erwin Dudley has been playing well against. He and LSU's Ronald Dupree lead the SEC in double doubles this season with seven each.

Williams Returns to His Home state

Alabama sophomore guard Mo Williams loves this series-as well as the Ole Miss series---since he's a Mississippi native. Williams says when he went home for Christmas his friends in Jackson were excited about the then No. 1 ranking for the Crimson Tide, but everywhere he went, he says, they were talking about the regular season dates with the Bulldogs. (And naturally all wanted Mo to get them tickets to the games).

While the Bulldogs don't sport any players on their roster from Jackson, two come from nearby Clinton, junior center Lincoln Smith and sophomore forward Ontario Harper. Williams and Harper have played many a pickup game together. And he and Smith were teammates playing AAU ball together. And Williams played against junior guard Timmy Bowers of Gulfport's Harrison Central in the high school state championship game. Harrison Central beat Murrah, Williams' team, in overtime in that game.

In Alabama's January 15 overtime win against the Bulldogs, Williams had 11 points, four assists and three rebounds. And as a freshman in 2002, Williams played and started in all three games against Mississippi State. He scored 15 points, including 8 of 8 at the free throw line, and had six rebounds in the January 19, 2002 game in Tuscaloosa that Alabama won 85-73. In the 76-62 Alabama loss to MSU in Starkville on February 9, 2002, Williams had 8 points and three rebounds. And in the SEC Tournament championship game on March 10 he had five points and three rebounds, having an off night shooting at 2 of 10 from the field (1 for 6 from 3 point range).

Williams Averaging 17.3 Points in Last Four Games

In this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, Mo Williams has been on the achieving side. He's averaged 17.3 points a game in Alabama's last four games with 13 at Florida, 17 against Auburn, 22 against Georgia and 17 at Tennessee. He's averaging 15.6 points a game after 23 games overall, good for a top 10 ranking in the league in scoring.

Lots of Basketball Family Connections

Wednesday night's game features players from both teams who are basketball legacies. Alabama's Antoine Pettway and MSU's Derrick Zimmerman were both coached by their dads in high school Pettway won two state championships, one at Wilcox Central in 2000 and another at Keith High School in 1998 with his dad Joseph coaching both teams. Zimmerman played for his dad, Dale Zimmerman, at Wossman High School in Monroe, La., where that pairing led to a 24-5 record in 1999 (state semifinals).

Tide junior Emmett Thomas is the son of Emmett Thomas who lettered at Auburn in 1975 for Bob Davis. Bama freshman Evan Brock is the son of Ernie Brock who played at Virginia State and then for the Harlem Globetrotters (teammates included Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon). And Bama guard Demetrius Smith's uncle, the late Derek Smith, played in the NBA and was a key player on Louisville's 1980 national championship team.

Two Mississippi Players of the Year on Benches

Two men who were named the state of Mississippi's Player of the Year are represented on either side of the ball in this game. Alabama sophomore point guard Mo Williams was the 2001 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year. He was also a McDonald's All-American who averaged 26.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists a game his senior year at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi.

MSU junior guard Timmy Bowers was the 2000 Mississippi Player of the Year by USA Today. He averaged 22.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists at Gulfport's Harrison Central.

...As Are Two McDonald's All-Americans

Alabama's starting point guard, sophomore Mo Williams was a McDonald's All-American in 2001. MSU's Mario Austin, an Alabama native out of York, was a 2000 McDonald's All-American.

Williams Continues to Lead SEC in Free Throw %

Mo Williams is the Southeastern Conference's most accurate free throw shooter. He leads the league in that stat, making 82.3% of his shots (79 of 96). Among the league's top 10 in that stat as well are Kenny Walker who ranks 8th at 73.9% (68 of 92) and Erwin Dudley who ranks 9th with 73.8% (96 of 130)>

Tide Senior Guard Out Indefinitely With Sprained Ankle

Alabama senior guard Terrance Meade, a starter in 17 games this season, sprained his left ankle during practice on Monday afternoon. It is doubtful that he will play in Wednesday night's game at Mississippi State as a result of the injury.

Meade, who averages 4.1 points a game, scored eight points in Alabama's win in Knoxville on Saturday, including two key 3-point baskets.


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