Home Win Streak On Line For Tide

Alabama's men's basketball team got the Southeastern Conference season off on a great start when the Crimson Tide opened with a 75-57 win over Mississippi State. That would have been a nice victory at home. That it came in Starkville, giving Bama a rare conference road win, was a nice springboard to the top of the SEC heap.



Coach Anthony Grant's Alabama team has the best record in the SEC, leading the Western Division with a 5-1 mark, which also is better than that of any Eastern Division team. For years, the mantra in SEC basketball is to win the home games and steal a few on the road. Alabama is 11-0 in Tuscaloosa this year.

Alabama will be trying to win in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night, while Mississippi State will be trying to steal back that Crimson Tide win from early January. Bama is 13-7 overall. The Bulldogs, the pre-season pick to win the West, are 11-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. CST with regional television coverage on the SEC Network.

Alabama is coming off an impressive 70-46 win over LSU, Bama's eighth victory in its last nine games. Grant noted that the Crimson Tide had 40 minutes of excellent defense against LSU. It is defense that is most credited with Alabama success this year, but the Tide is showing up well in other areas, too.

The defensive area has been terrific. Alabama leads the SEC, allowing only 56.8 points per game, which is fifth best in the nation. Bama has held all 20 opponents and all six SEC opponents to an average of just 0.82 point per possession, which is best in the natyion. Opponents are conmverting on just 36.1 per cent of field goals, second best in the nation. Alabama averages 9.5 steals per game, tops in the SEC and 12th in the nation.

In the last nine games, only two opponents have scored more than 60 points against Bama – Arkansas in a win in Fayetteville and Kentucky in a loss in Tuscaloosa. In Tuscaloosa, opponents are averaging under 50 points per game.

Alabama is averaging 67.7 points per game and the Tide's average scoring margin against opponents is plus 10.9. Mississippi State averages 69.3 points per game while the Bulldogs give up an average of 70.2 points per game, an average margin of minus 0.9.

Alabama has been very good around the basket in two areas. The Crimson Tide has averaged 38.8 rebounds per game, while Tide opponents have averaged 33.2, a difference of 5.5 per game in Bama's favor. Mississippi State averages 36.5 rebounds per game and allows 38.4, a difference of minus 1.8 per game.

Also around the basket, Alabama has been very good at scoring "in the paint." The Tide has a margin of 726 points to 446 points, an average of plus 14 points per game. Bama has scored 53.6 per cent of its points in the paint. No team has outscored Alabama in the paint this year.

Alabama has also been excellent in free throw shooting this year. For the season, Bama has hit 71.8 per cent of its foul shots. But in pressure situations, the final three minutes and overtimes of games within 10 points, Alabama has made 30-38 free throws, 78.9 per cent.

In the earlier Bama-State meeting, the Bulldogs were something of a new team, having just gotten starters Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost back from suspensions. Bost was a little off and later State Coach Rick Stansbury said that the 6-10, 270-pound Sidney, who played only 26 minutes, was not yet in shape. Bost, a 6-2 junior guard, has been one of the top players in the league the past couple of years and is back on his game, averaging 18.3 points and 6.2 assists per game. Sidney averages 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Additionally, the Bulldogs have an outstanding scorer in 6-7 Ravern Johnson, who is averaging 18.1 points per game. The Mississippi State lineup also includes 6-8, 224-pound Kodi Augustus, who averages 12.2 points and 8 rebounds per game, and 6-4 guard Riley Benock (7.1 points per game).

In Bama's win at Starkville, 6-8, 228-pound junior forward JaMychal Green had 16 points and 11 rebounds and 6-0 freshman point guard Trevor Releford had 17 points. Charvez Davis, a 6-4 senior guard, had 13 points; 6-6 sophomore forward Tony Mitchell had 11 points and nine rebounds; and 6-8, 227-pound senior forward Chris Hines had 7 points and 10 rebounds. That is expected to be Bama's starting lineup Wednesday.

For the season, Green averages 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game; Mitchell averages 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds; Releford averages 9.5 points and 3.5 assists; Davis averages 9.2 points; and Hines averages 5.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Alabama has won three of its last four games against Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide has an all-time record of 113 wins and 72 losses against the Bulldogs, including a 34-8 advantage in Coleman Coliseum.

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