Oklahoma State, Tide In Birmingham

When Alabama meets Oklahoma State Wednesday night in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, the audience is expected to be mostly Crimson Tide followers, and of those who are Southeastern Conference students they'll remember the OSU coach from his playing days at Kentucky.

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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