Bama Needs Crowd Support, Defense
So far, Coleman Coliseum has been good to Alabama. The Crimson Tide has a 10-7 record this year, and Bama is 9-0 on its home court. In Southeastern Conference play Alabama is 2-1, including 1-0 in Tuscaloosa.
The home court record will be severely tested at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday when the 12th ranked Kentucky Wildcats come to town. Kentucky is 14-3 overall and 2-1 in SEC games. The Cats are 5-3 in road games.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari had to rebuild from last year's team after losing three key players -- SEC Player of the Year John Wall (who was also SEC Freshman of the Year), Patrick Patterson, and Eric Bledsoe. Calipari has done just that.
Kentucky is a different team from last year, and once again the Wildcats are a very fine team.
"It's pretty much a brand new group, Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. Since (in the SEC format of divisional play) we only play them once a year, we'd like to go back and look at last year's film, but that wouldn't do us any good.
"This is a whole new team playing a new system.
"This year's (Kentucky) team poses some different challenges. Last year's team was very, very good. This year's team is very athletic. And what's sometimes lost is how good good this team is defensively; better than last year."
Grant knows defense. Although Bama gave up 70 points in a tough road loss at Arkansas Saturday (80-75 as the Razorbacks had 11 more free throw opportunities), the Tide continues to be best in the SEC, allowing just 56.8 points per game. The biggest test of the year for that defense comes from Kentucky, which leads the league in scoring at 80 points per game.
Kentucky presents a challenge in having four men who can shoot three-pointers. Go out and guard them and they can drive to the basket.
Bama has won five of its last six games and the Razorbacks are the only team to have scored more than 60 points in that span. The Tide is allowing just .82 point per possession by opponents, which is tied with Nebraska for best in the nation.
Alabama's lineup of late has been 6-8, 228-pound junior JaMychal Green (15.4 points, 7.4 rebounds per game) and 6-8, 227-pound senior Chris Hines (4.9, 7.0) in the post positions, 6-6, 210-pound sophomore Tony Mitchell (14.4, 7.9) and 6-3, 186-pound senior Charvez Davis (9.4, 1.8) on the wings, and 6-1, 180-pound freshman Trevor Releford (9.7 points, 3.6 assists per game) at point guard.
Davis has connected on only two three-point shots in the last three games and it would not be shocking to see him replaced by the more athletic 6-2, 195-pound senior Senario Hillman (8.8 points per game) or 6-4, 230-pound sophomore Andrew Steele (4.0 points per game).
Kentucky lists four guards and a forward as likely starters. The forward is 6-10, 275-pound senior Josh Harrellson, who averages 6.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The guards are 6-7, 230-pound junior Darius Miller (9.6, 5.1); 6-6, 215-pound sophomore DeAndre Liggins (9.4, 3.9); and freshmen 6-3, 195-pound Brandon Knight (17.5 points, 3.9 assists) and 6-4, 210-pound Doron Lamb (13.8 points per game).
The Wildcats leading scorer, though, is Terrence Jones, a 6-8, 250-pound freshman who averages 18.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
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