Pressure On Tide In Arkansas Visit
In many respects, this already is a successful season for Alabama men's basketball. The Crimson Tide is all but sure to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division and Bama is a legitimate contender for the overall league title. Alabama is 17-8 overall having won 12 of its last 14 games. The Tide is 9-2 in SEC games, tied for the overall lead with Florida and four games ahead of the nearest Western Division competitors with five games to play.
Bama Coach Anthony Grant is the odds-on favorite to pick up at least an SEC Coach of the Year award at the end of the year. And it's a certainty that Coleman Coliseum will be packed like a sleeve of sausage Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide hosts Arkansas at 6 p.m. CST and the game is sold out, assuring another crowd of over 15,000. The game will be televised by FoxSportsSouth.
"Our fans, have been tremendous," Grant said. "It has certainly helped our team in terms of the energy our fans bring and the excitement that is in the building."
And Alabama needs to win. Although it has been a fine year, college basketball is a tournament game. If Alabama wants to play in THE tournament -- the NCAA Tournament leading to the national championship -- the Crimson Tide needs to win down the stretch, particularly Bama's home games.
Bama is 13-0 at home this season.
Arkansas is one of two SEC teams to defeat the Tide this season with a 70-65 decision in Fayetteville a month ago. The Razorbacks are 16-9 overall and 5-6 in SEC games.
"In that game Arkansas did a great job of being aggressive and really attacked us on both ends of the floor," Grant said of the January loss. "We've got to understand who they are as a basketball team and I assume it will be the same approach in terms of the effort and intensity they bring on the defensive end."
Alabama's defense, ranked sixth in the nation in points allowed at 58.3, will have its collective hands full guarding one of the top three-point shooters in the nation in Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke who is averaging a team-high 13.6 points per game on 2.8 three-pointers per game.
"They've got a lot of very good players and Clarke is a part of it because of his ability to stretch the defense and he's scoring a variety of ways," Grant said.
The Crimson Tide is led by JaMychal Green's 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in SEC play. In Thursday's win at LSU, the junior scored a game-high 18 points with seven boards.
Following Saturday's game, the Tide will remain at home to face in-state rival Auburn on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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