Basketball Ain't Broke In Georgia

Hey, it worked pretty well Tuesday! Let's try it again! What worked well for the Alabama men's basketball team on Jan. 3 was going to Georgia and romping over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Now the Tide returns to the Peach State to open Southeastern Conference play against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

Alabama, which improved its record to 11-3 in non-conference games, will take on Georgia (9-5) at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. central time) Saturday in Athens. The game will be televised by FoxSportsSouth.

Last year Alabama defeated Georgia twice late in the season, then watched incredulously as the NCAA Selection Committee took the Bulldogs for the NCAA Tournament and left Alabama on the outside.

Although the NCAA Selection Committee Chairman (Gene Smith of Ohio State) babbled incoherently regarding the reason for omitting Bama, the feeling in the Crimson Tide camp was that Alabama's non-conference schedule had been too weak. Bama had done very well in the SEC last season, finishing first in the SEC Western Division and second overall with a 12-4 record.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant took care of that non-conference problem this year. The Crimson Tide enters SEC play having played what is judged to be the nation's 18th toughest schedule. Alabama's 11-3 record includes losses to two nationally ranked teams.

Alabama has won three consecutive games since losing to Kansas State in Kansas City.

Alabama is 5-2 in games outside Coleman Coliseum this year. This is the third consecutive year for Alabama to begin SEC play on the road, and the Tide has won both previous league openers.

Against Georgia Tech in Philips Arena earlier this week, Bama bombed the Yellow Jackets by 73-48, a game in which Alabama forced 22 turnovers and had a season-high 14 steals.

The game was notable for Andrew Steele seeing his first action of the season after it had been thought his career had ended in the 2010-11 season because of concussions. He hit both field goal tries and all five of his free throw attempts for nine points.

Alabama also saw the return of All-SEC forward JaMychal Green, who had missed the two previous games with a shoulder injury.

Trevor Releford has led Alabama in its last three games by averaging 18 points per game on 21-17 shooting from the field (4-7 on three-point shots) with 11 assists. Against Georgia Tech he was a perfect 8-8 from the field and scored 17 points.

Tony Mitchell is second on the squad with 15.1 points per game and leads the Tide in rebounding (7.4 per game) and has 27 of Bama's 45 dunks.

Alabama is getting it done primarily with defense. Alabama allows only 55.6 points per game, which ranks 11th in the nation in scoring defense. Only four of Alabama's opponents have reached the 60-point mark and Georgia Tech became the fourth Tide foe to fail to make it to 50. Opponents are making just 36.4 per cent of their field goal attempts against the Tide, which is sixth best nationally.

Ten of Alabama's 14 opponents have had their lowest scoring output of the season against Alabama.

With its two wins over Georgia last year, Alabama leads the all-time series by a 90-47 margin.

Georgia has won five consecutive games going into Saturday's contest. The Bulldogs last loss was to Georgia Tech.

Georgia is led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, averaging 14.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

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