Tide Vs. Arkansas May Display Defense
Alabama, riding a five-game winning streak including being 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play, goes to Arkansas for a 12:30 p.m. CST game Saturday. Following a 57-47 win over South Carolina Wednesday night, Bama is 10-6 overall. The Razorbacks are 1-1 in the league after a loss at LSU and Arkansas has an overall record of 11-4.
When one thinks of defense in the SEC, one must think of Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide. Bama is leading the league in scoring defense, allowing just 55.9 points per game, more than five points per game better than Florida. Arkansas is allowing 63.2 points per game.
The Crimson Tide is also best in field goal percentage defense, holding foes to just 35.4 per cent. Bama hasn't been quite as good on three-point defense, checking in at third in the conference, but still allowing a miserly 29.8 per cent on treys.
But Grant points to Arkansas being first in the league in blocked shots at 7.1 per game and tops in the league in turnover margin at plus 3.07. Alabama is well down the rankings in blocked shots at seventh, 5.4 per game, but the Tide is also in the plus column on turnover margin, fourth in the league at plus 1.25. And while Grant points to the Razorbacks as being "among the leaders" in steals, the Hogs are second in the league at 9.5 per game. Alabama is first at 9.7.
Grant said the Tide faces a challenge. "First of all, we have great respect for (Artkansas Coach) John Pelphrey and his staff. Going on the road, we'll be playing in one of the best atmospheres in college basketball in Bud Walton Arena. And Arkansas is coming off a tough road loss.
"It will come down to our preparation."
He pointed to the home court advantage a team has because of the crowd that provides energy and because a team is more familiar and more comfortable on its home court.
Grant called Arkansas an "opportunistic" defense that does a good job in transition. He pointed to the Razorbacks having an "elite" player in guart Rotnei Clarke and a proven inside player in forward Marshawn Powell (6-7, 220).
One of the most notable aspects of Alabama's 2-0 start in SEC play has been Bama's lack of three-point shooting production. Bama did not make a three-point shot in Wednesday's win over South Carolina and had only one three-pointer in a 75-57 win over Mississippi State last week.
"We've got to shoot the ball better," Grant said. He said that Alabama is having good ball movement and getting good shots. "We need for them to start falling for us," he said.
Grant said that he can see more poise in this year's Alabama team than was the case a year ago. "There's no substitute for experience," he said. "I've seen growth. We're not where we want to be, but we are making progress."
Alabama has settled into a starting lineup of JaMychal Green (ninth in the SEC in scoring at 15.3 points per game and eight in rebounding at 7.6) and Chris Hines (17th in the conference in rebounding at 6.7) inside, Tony Mitchell (12th in the league in scoring at 14.4 points per game and fifth in rebounding at 8.1) and Charvez Davis (30th in the conference in scoring at 9.7 points per game) on the wings, and freshman Trevor Releford (seventh in the SEC in assists at 3.6 per game).
Bama's next home game will be next Tuesday when Kentucky visits Coleman Coliseum for an 8 p.m. CST game.
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