7:00 PM ET, November 29, 2002
MassMutual Center, Springfield, Massachusetts
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Antoine Pettway's timely touch rescued Alabama (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 4 Associated Press) from a dismal shooting night.Pettway scored 11 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the Crimson Tide's 54-48 victory over Ohio State on Friday night. He was named the most valuable player of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, a one-game marquee matchup in its 24th year. ''The (MVP) was really a team award, because they gave me some great looks,'' Pettway said. ''A great guard is supposed to find the open shots, and we missed a lot of those.'' The Crimson Tide (4-0) shot 17 percent in the second half and struggled with its inside game, but Pettway came through each time the Buckeyes (1-1) threatened. Alabama power forward Erwin Dudley, the Southeastern Conference player of the year last season, was held to eight points. Dudley was coming off the 35th double-double of his career. ''This was an ugly win,'' Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. ''We've obviously got to get better before we get into our league season.'' The Tide opened with a 10-3 run in the first five minutes, while the Buckeyes struggled from the floor, going nearly six minutes without a field goal. Sean Connolly ended the drought with a jumper to begin a 10-3 run and give the Buckeyes their only lead of the game at 15-13 with 8:58 left in the half. Alabama countered with a 15-5 run, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Pettway. The Tide regained the lead for good on Pettway's 3-pointer with 8:13 left. Alabama had five 3-pointers in the first half and led by as many as 13 before taking a 35-25 lead at the break. ''We neutralized their strengths pretty good, but we missed too many opportunities,'' Buckeyes coach Jim O'Brien said. ''When you play a team of Alabama's caliber, you've got to take advantage of your chances.'' The Buckeyes chipped away in the first five minutes of the second half. Emonte Jernigan and Connolly hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close to seven, but Pettway came through again, countering with a 3-pointer with 13:37 left. His basket was one of only four field goals in 23 attempts for the Tide in the second half. Kenny Walker's dunk with 9:15 left was Alabama's final field goal. Zach Williams scored six of the next eight points for Ohio State, closing the gap to three with 2:12 left. But the Buckeyes, who shot 28 percent from the floor, got no closer. Pettway went to the line with 19.3 seconds remaining and hit both free throws to seal it. The Buckeyes did not have starting point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham and backup forward Shun Jenkins, who are out for three to five weeks with injuries. The short bench took its toll on O'Brien's seven-man rotation. Guard Brent Darby played his second consecutive 40-minute game and was 0-for-8 from the floor. ''I stunk the gym out with my shooting and you can see that by my stats,'' Darby said. Walker and Mo Williams also finished with 11 points for Alabama. Dudley led the Tide with 11 rebounds. Zach Williams led Ohio State with 14 points and 10 boards. Connolly finished with 13 points. With the victory, Alabama, the 2002 regular-season SEC champ, evened the overall series at 3-3.
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