Tide Men's Basketball Ends Non-SEC Play

Even though it begins play in November, historically Alabama's pre-Southeastern Conference men's basketball schedule has been known as the "December Schedule." It is made up of non-conference opponents, most of them not very rigorous, and most of the games are played in Coleman Coliseum. This year the so-called December Schedule ends in January.

Coach Anthony Grant's Alabama men's basketball team opens up the 2011 portion of its schedule and closes out non-conference play on Monday evening against Toledo. Tipoff between the Crimson Tide and Rockets is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST at Coleman Coliseum.

In addition to being the final non-conference contest of the season, it is also the last game with special holiday break discount tickets available through the UA ticket office for $8. Fans unable to make it to Coleman Coliseum can follow the action on the affiliates of the Crimson Tide Sports Network.

Following Monday night's game, Bama will begin SEC play on Saturday at Mississippi State. That game will tipoff at 3 p.m. CST.

Earlier this year, Grant suspended junior inside player JaMychal Green, who was a pre-season All-SEC selection. Since his return, Green has stepped up his game. He scored a season-high 23 points in Alabama's last outing against Pepperdine. In the past two games, Green has hit 16 of 22 field goal attempts.

Also big for Bama in recent games has been the outside shooting of senior guard Charvez Davis. In the past two games he has hit 10-16 on three-point shots and averaged 18.5 points per game.

The most impressive aspect of Alabama play this year, however, has been its defense, particularly in home games. Bama has outscored its seven home opponents by an average of 24.3 points per game with those opponents averaging just 49.4 points per game. That average is the third fewest points allowed at home in the nation this season.

Alabama has the nation's 13th best scoring defense, allowing all opponents just 57.7 points per game. That average is not likely to suffer against Toledo. The Rockets have averaged just 59.5 points per game this year on just 41.5 per cent field goal shooting.

Toledo travels to Tuscaloosa with a 3-10 record after falling, 64-42, at UNC Wilmington on Dec. 30 to snap a three-game win streak for the Rockets that included wins over Valparaiso, Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana Northwest.

"They've just come off a tough loss on the road to UNC Wilmington," Grant said. "I think this game will be more about us again. We've got to a good job again of setting the tone defensively as they've got a few guys that can shoot the three. We need to make sure we make it difficult for them to get good shots and then be patient on the other end."

The Rockets, under first-year Coach Tod Kowalczyk, are led by a pair of players in Malcolm Griffin and Delino Dear with 10.2 points per game each. Both are converting at a 45 per cent or greater clip from the floor this season.

Monday night's game is the third of a three-game Alabama homestand to wrap up non-conference play. The Tide is 7-0 in Coleman Coliseum, but only 7-6 overall. Bama is coming off an impressive 83-60 win over Pepperdine.

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