Alabama head coach Anthony Grant knows defense. His Crimson Tide (10-7, 2-1) team is making a habit of frustrating the opposition on the offensive end of the floor, and the traveling Wildcats will have their paws full as they attempt to put points on the board.
Alabama’s dedication to defense, ranked 7th in the nation, will provide Kentucky head coach John Calipari with an excellent yardstick with which to gauge his team’s adherence to the unselfish play he has been preaching about. The #12 ranked Wildcats (14-3, 2-1), in tonight’s 9:00 EST tilt with the Tide, will also display for all to see if the youthful ‘Cats learned from their 77-70 road loss to Georgia.
Crimson Tide Key Performers
Six-eight junior forward JaMychal Green leads Bama in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game, and is second on the team in rebounding with 7.4 boards per contest (3.4 offensive rebs). Green is averaging 2.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game (7th in SEC). Tony Mitchell, a 6-6 sophomore forward leads the Tide in rebounding with 7.9 rebounds per game (2.5 offensive rebs), while scoring 14.4 points per contest. Mitchell has scored in double-digits in all but one game on the season, and has three double-doubles on the year. But, Mitchell also keeps with the defensive philosophy of Grant by averaging 1.6 steals per game, fifth best in the SEC. Rounding-out the starting Bama front court is 6-8 senior Chris Hines. While not much of a scorer, at only 4.0 points per game, Hines hits the glass like he means it, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in four of his last six contests.
The Bama back court in competently led by 6-1 freshman Trevor Relaford, and 6-3 senior Charvez Davis. Relaford checks-in with 9.3 points per game, and hands out 3.6 assists per contest, to go along with an impressive 3.4 rebounds per game. Davis averages 9.4 points per game. Senario Hillman, a 6-2 senior, averages 23.3 minutes per game off the bench for Grant, and supplies scoring (8.8 points per game), rebounding (3.1 per game), and defense with 1.8 steals per game (2nd in SEC) — Hillman ranks fifth all-time at Alabama with 157 career thefts. Andrew Steele, a 6-4 swing player and brother of former Tide player Ronald Steele, missed the first 13 games of the season due to a knee injury, but has returned to average 4.0 points per game in just over 12 minutes per contest.
Typical of past Alabama teams, this years collection of players are very athletic, with long arms, and are capable of shutting down high-powered offenses, especially when playing in Coleman Coliseum. And to illustrate the stark disparity in Bama’s home game stats versus away/neutral statistics, check this out:
Bama’s record at home — 9-0 (1-7 on the road), and they have won 10 straight dating to last season.
Points per game — 72.9 61.4
Opp’s ppg — 48.2 66.4
Field goal% — 48.6 42.3
3-pt fg% — 34.7 24.7
Opp’s fg% — 30.8 42.1
Opp’s 3-pt% — 22.9 37.9
Assists pg — 16.7 10.3
Turnovers pg — 13.9 15.6
Opp’s TO’s pg — 17.6 13.4
Steals pg — 10.7 7.9
Blocks pg — 6.6 4.3
Points per poss. — 1.06 .91
Opp’s points per poss. — .68 .99
Alabama has won 5-6 games overall, and Arkansas is the only Tide opponent to top 60 points … Bama’s three SEC opponents have averaged only .84 points per possession … Overall, the Tide are giving up .82 points per possession, tops in the nation along with Nebraska … Bama is holding their opposition to only 35.8% field goal accuracy, third best in the nation … Tide forward JaMychal Green is only 19 points away from 1,000 points for his career … Green, over his last five games, is 40-73 from the field (54.8%) … Senario Hillman is only 41 points away from 1,000 … Hillman has a 41 inch vertical leap (how very Rex Chapman-like).
Coach Cal On Alabama:
“(They are) really good defensively, really tough. Their inside guys remind me of the Georgia players. Very physical, get you near the basket, and if you’re playing half speed you’re going to get killed. Very active in the zone, they trap, they do good things and they run their stuff. They run good stuff. I’m trying to find a tape to build my confidence up and I haven’t found one yet because I start watching – and then I watched our game we played with them last year. The games we played with them last year, they were right (there), they had chances to beat us both games. They’re doing well.”
Tonight’s game is Coach Cal’s second trip to Coleman Coliseum — Cal took his Memphis Tigers into Tuscaloosa in the 2005 preseason NIT, and came away with an 87-76 victory.
Terrence Jones has zero assists in the last three games … Jones has made 6-12 three-pointers over his last three games (50.0%) … Jones has made 20-27 free throws (74.1%) over the last two games, after taking only 13 free throws the previous five games … Jones has snagged nine offensive boards the last three games (3.0 pg) … He has eight turnovers the last four games (2.0 per game).
Brandon Knight has made 10-14 trey tries (71.4%) since going 0-3 from long-range against Georgia … Knight has attempted zero free throws over the last two games … Averaging 3.8 rebounds per game on the year, Knight has snagged 16 rebounds the last three games (5.3 pg) … Knight has dished out 15 assists to only six turnovers over the last four games.
Doron Lamb, in starting the last two games, has handed out 12 assists to only five turnovers … Lamb had only six steals through the first 14 games of the year (.4 pg), but over the last three games has five steals (1.7 pg) … Making 50.0% of his three-pointers on the year, Lamb has made 3-7 from beyond the arc the last two games (42.9%) … Since going 6-11 from the field versus Penn, he is 13-32 in the three games since (40.6%).
Darius Miller, with his 10 points against Auburn, and 15 versus LSU, has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time all year … Miller has made 13-20 field goals the last two games (65.0%) … In his last seven games, Miller has made 6-20 three-pointers (30.0%) … Miller has zero free throw attempts and offensive rebounds over the last two games.
DeAndre Liggins’ 15 points against LSU represents his first double-digit scoring game since 12-28 versus Coppin State … Ligs has seven assists and only two turnovers in the last two games … Making 39.1% from long-range, Ligs was 3-3 from behind the line versus LSU.
Josh Harrellson tied a career-high with 14 rebounds versus LSU … Harrellson is averaging 6.7 points per game on the year, but has scored only 14 points in the last three games (4.7 points pg) … Harrellson has recorded 13 blocks over the last four games (3.3 pg).
Eloy Vargas has grabbed seven rebounds (four offensive) in his last 23 minutes played.
Once again, game time is 9:00 EST on ESPN.