Minnesota-Alabama Basketball Preview

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will face Alabama, which is ranked #19 in the country, in the Great Alaska Shootout semifinals. The Gophers advanced with an 84-69 win over Furman on Wednesday, while Alabama defeated host Division II Alaska-Anchorage 90-55.

Head coach Mark Gottfried's club returns four starters from an Elite Eight team that is 3-0 and beating their opponents by an average of 26.7 points per game. All five Alabama starters are averaging in double figures and the team has shot 50 percent or better in all three games.

The Crimson Tide is led by Naismith and Wooden Award candidate Kennedy Winston. The 6-foot-6 junior forward was first-team All-SEC last season and averaged 17.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in '03-04. He is averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Chuck Davis, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, is leading the team with 19.0 points per game. He is second in reboudning with 6.7 caroms per contest. Sophomore center Jermareo Davidson leads the team with 7.7 rebounds per game and is averaging 10 points per game. Davidson recorded the season's first double-double for the Tide as he had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Both were career highs.

The Tide backcourt of Earnest Shelton and freshman point guard Ronald Steele are averaging 17.0 and 10.3 points, respectively. Steele, a two-time Mr. Basketball in Alabama, is averaging a team-high 6.3 assists per game.

Alabama holds a 3-0 advantage in the series. The two teams have not met since 1997. The Gophers are 13-10 all-time vs. the Southeastern Conference. The last time Minnesota played an SEC team was in 2002, a 72-69 win over Georgia at Williams Arena.

Minnesota will either play in the championship game or the third place game on Saturday. The championship game begins at 6 p.m. local time. The third place game precedes is at 3:30 p.m. local time. The championship game will be shown live on ESPN2.

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