Oklahoma State, Tide In Birmingham
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant remembers Oklahoma State Coach Travis Ford from much further back.
"The first time I saw Travis I was coaching in high school and he was a senior in high school," Grant said. "Our teams played each other. I have a very high opinion of him as a player. He was very good and his career speaks for itself. I've watched him over his career at Kentucky, and he's been an outstanding coach. He's done a great job everywhere he's been and at Oklahoma State."
Alabama and Oklahoma State will tip off at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday with television coverage by ESPN2.
Both teams are trying to get back on the winning track. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 71-58 loss to Kansas State in Kansas City and has fallen to 8-3 with setbacks in three of the last four games. The Cowboys have lost their last two games, to Pittsburgh and New Mexico, and have a record of 6-4.
Although some may consider Bama to have been in a slump, Grant gives credit to the opponents. "We are playing good competition," he said.
He also said, though, that in the latest loss to Kansas State, "We had a tough time with turnovers. We didn't shoot the ball well.
"We've got a lot of areas we can improve in -- defensively, offensively -- execution-wise. There are a lot of areas for us right now that we've got to get better at."
Grant did say his team has practiced "with a good attitude in terms of understanding what we have to do."
Grant sees a challenge in playing Oklahoma State. "They are a very good team," he said. "They are led by the all-time leading three-point shooter in school history with Keiton Page and they have an outstanding freshman in LéBryan Nash. Other parts are very athletic. They are a very good defensive team, excellent in transition."?
Grant said this year's tough non-conference schedule can only benefit the Crimson Tide in the future. "We've been faced with a lot of different styles of play and a lot of different challenges in terms of match-ups offensively and defensively."
Although Alabama's starting lineup has varied slightly in recent games, it is expected to include 6-8 senior forward JaMychal Green (averaging 15.9 points and 7 rebounds per game), 6-6 junior forward Tony Mitchell (14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds), 6-8 freshman forward Nick Jacobs (5.3 points, 3.5 rebounds), 6-5 freshman guard Levi Randolph (6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds), and 6-0 sophomore point guard Trevor Releford (10.8 points, 3.3 rebounds).
Bama has a young bench. Most likely to see early action are 6-3 freshman guard Trevor Lacey ((6.2 points, 2.9 rebounds), 6-4 sophomore guard Charles Hankerson Jr. (2.9 points), and 6-6 freshman guard Rodney Cooper (4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds).
This is Alabama's second consecutive game against a Big 12 opponent. It will be the Tide's first game in the BJCC in Birmingham since Dec. 5, 2007, when fifth-ranked Georgetown downed Alabama, 70-60.
Alabama will get a holiday break following the Oklahoma State game. The Tide returns to action Dec. 29 hosting Jacksonville.
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