Bama Basketball Faces Big Challenge

For the past decade, a reference to the "Twin Towers" has been to the horror of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. In the 1983-84 basketball season, the "Twin Towers" were a pair of seven-footers playing for the Kentucky Wildcats, Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin.

The Alabama basketball team of Coach Anthony Grant will be going up a new set of "Twin Towers" Saturday when the Crimson Tide goes to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum is at 3 p.m. CST with the SEC Network televising the game.

The Crimson Tide is on the road for the second game of the Southeastern Conference season. Bama heads to Starkville with a 2-0 SEC record and a 13-3 overall mark after using a pair of 9-0 runs to handle LSU, 69-53, on Wednesday for its fifth straight win. Mississippi State, ranked 20th in the nation, continues its homestand after a 62-58 win over Tennessee on Thursday to improve to 1-1 in the league and 14-3 overall.

SEC followers are aware of inside player Renardo Sidney, a 6-10, 285-pound junior from Jackson. Now joining him on the inside for Coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs is Arnett Moultrie, a 6-11, 230-pound junior. Moultrie averages a double-double with 15.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Sidney scores 10.3 points per game and is pulling down 4.9 rebounds.

"Moultrie and Sidney are probably one of the biggest frontcourts that we'll see this year," Grant said. "They've played extremely well and have had a lot of success this season.

"They've got a very good team and a strong combination with Dee Bost being a senior point guard and the leadership he provides," Grant said. "He leads their team and they're getting great play out of their other guards as well."

MSU is led by Bost's 16 points and 4.4 assists per game. He has also converted on 34 of his 109 three-point attempts and according to Grant has, "has an ability to impose his will into games."

Grant said, "We've got to do a good job from a defensive standpoint of making sure that we limit the opportunities that their guys have, and then we've got to take advantage of some of the opportunities we'll have on the other end. We're going to have to have success taking care of the basketball and finding quality shots."

Mississippi State's skill on both the perimeter combined with interior size will be tested against an Alabama defense that is one of the top in the nation by allowing a scant 55.7 points per game this season, the eighth best average in the nation with only four opponents scoring 60 or more points.

Capitalizing on defense has helped Alabama earn five straight wins with an average margin of victory of 18 points.

Sophomore point guard Trevor Releford has led Alabama in scoring in the four of the last five games and is averaging 17.2 points per game on 35-of-48 shooting (5-of-11 from three-point) with 15 assists and 14 steals during that span. In his last outing, he matched a season-high with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Forward Tony Mitchell, a 6-6 junior, is averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Senior JaMychal Green, 6-8, 240, is back in the starting lineup after missing some work with a shoulder injury. He's averaging 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Bama's starting lineup is also expected to include freshmen wing players, 6-3 Trevor Lacey (7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds) and 6-5 Levi Randolph (6.3 points, 3.9 rebounds).

UA leads the all-time series between the programs by a 114-72 margin after sweeping the Bulldogs last season, including a 75-57 win in Starkville.

Following Saturday's game, the Tide will return home to host Vanderbilt on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. CST.

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