Tide Hopes To Ring Out 2011 With Win

It hasn't been a great December for Alabama men's basketball, but the Crimson Tide is expected to end 2011 in celebration mode when Bama hosts Jacksonville (Fla.) at 8 p.m. CST Thursday in Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama is 2-3 in December after having gone 7-0 and into the nation's top 20 in November. The Tide is coming off a win, however, a 69-52 romp over Oklahoma State in Birmingham last week that put Bama at 9-3 on the season. Jacksonville comes into Tuscaloosa with a 2-9 record and seven consecutive losses, the most recent at UAB.

CSS will televise the game regionally with former Alabama Coach Wimp Sanderson handling color commentary.

The Tide is 5-1 in Coleman Coliseum this year and 24-1 over the past two seasons.

Alabama played Oklahoma State without leading scorer JaMychal Green, who missed the game rehabilitating a shoulder injury.

Although Alabama has had some issues this year, the defense has been good in most games. Alabama is allowing just 56.3 points per game, which is 12th best in the nation. Bama opponents are hitting just 36.1 per cent of field goal attempts, which is fifth best nationally. The latest opponent, Oklahoma State, shot just 32.7 per cent from the field and only 20 per cent on three-point tries. Of its 12 opponents, eight scored season lows against the Tide defense.

That is not good news for the Dolphins, who average 63.1 points per game and make only 41.3 per cent of their field goals. Bama is averaging 66.2 points per game, while Jacksonville allows 74.2 per contest.

Alabama has used a variety of starting lineups and four freshmen are clearly in the mix. In addition to Green (assuming he returns to the lineup Thursday), Bama is expected to have junior Tony Mitchell at forward and sophomore Trevor Relevord at guard. Releford had 20 points on 7-10 field goal shooting and added three assists and four steals against Oklahoma State. Mitchell is second on the squad with 15 points per game after a 16-point, 11-rebound performance against Oklahoma State.

Two of four freshmen are expected to fill the other starting spots. Levi Randolph has been a starter at one wing spot with Trevor Lacey appearing to have pulled ahead of Rodney Cooper at the other guard spot. Alabama can also go big with 6-8, 250-pound Nick Jacobs, who has a handful of starts, including against Oklahoma State

Jacksonville is led by Glenn Powell and Keith McDougald, both averaging 11.3 points per game. Powell leads the Dolphins in rebounding with 7.3 per game.

Alabama has not opened the season 10-3 since the 2008-09 season.

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