Green Possible, Lacey Doubtful
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant seems to live by the advice of former Crimson Tide Football Coach Gene Stallings. "The less you say," Stallings lectured, "the less you have to take back."
Alabama hosts Mississippi State at 5 p.m. CST today in Coleman Coliseum in a very big Southeastern Conference basketball game. JaMychal Green, Alabama's leading scorer (14.1 points per game) and rebounder (7.2 per game) has missed the last four games due to suspension. Although Alabama lost two of those games, the Crimson Tide has looked very good in beating Tennessee at home and Arkansas on the road.
For today's game against Mississippi State, Grant said that Green "will dress for the game and will be available. We will make some determinations based on how practice goes (Friday). But he will most likely be dressed and available."
The news is not as good for freshman guard Trevor Lacey, who scored eight quick points in Bama's win at Arkansas Thursday night, then went out with an ankle injury. On the other hand, the news on Lacey is not as bad as it could have been. Looking at the long term picture (which is how Grant looks at it), Lacey is "doubtful" for today, but the injury is not season-ending.
Grant said an MRI had determined that Lacey's injury is a sprained ankle. "We just have to manage the swelling and pain," Grant said. "I'd say right now he's doubtful."
Alabama is 18-9 overall and 7-6 and tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State is 19-9 overall and 6-7 in the conference, but one of those wins is a 56-52 win over Bama in Starkville on Jan. 14.
"We played them so early, so I think it's almost like playing them for the first time again," Grant said. "We've changed, they've changed, so certainly you look at (Dee) Bost and (Arnett) Moultrie, and those guys have had outstanding seasons leading them in just about every category. I think they've gotten pretty consistent play from (Rodney) Hood, (Brian) Bryant and (Jalen) Steele. Those guys have done a great job. They are good, but obviously they have struggled here lately with a losing streak. But they've been right there in every game they've played with chances to win in all those games. I think our guys understand that we are facing on the best teams in our league, and certainly a team that is very dangerous, so we've got to make sure we are ready to go."
The Bulldogs have pronounced Hood as "very, very doubtful" because of a "deep knee bruise."
Mississippi State has had plenty of time to prepare for Bama. The Bulldogs lost a tough game to number one ranked Kentucky, 73-64, on Tuesday. Alabama was on the road at Arkansas Thursday night.
Grant said that he liked what he saw in Bama's last outing. In Fayetteville, one of the toughest road courts in the nation, the Crimson Tide fell behind by 12 points in the first half, then came back to post a 79-68 win over the Razorbacks.
Grant said, "I thought we did a great job of weathering storms and handling adversity over the course of the game. Early, the adversity was the way Arkansas came out and shot the basketball. Our guys weathered that storm and continued to play and they gave us a chance to get a lead and once we took the lead they came back and got into that game and made it a two possession game. Our guys stepped up and made plays. I think that those are the things for me that stick out. The way they played together and weathered the storm."
He said the freshman-laden Tide has shown more poise late in the season.
Grant said, "I'd say that it was evident in the game the other day and I'd say the same thing in the Tennessee game. It's a team that is getting better and continuing to mature as we go through."
It's difficult to guess at a starting lineup for Bama, but it would not be a surprise for the Tide to go with the four-guard line-up that has been effective recently. It also would not be a surprise to see two big men in the line-up to combat the size of Mississippi State.
Even without Lacey, the Tide could go with four perimeter players from the pool of Trevor Releford, Levi Randolph, Andrew Steele, Rodney Cooper, and Charles Hankerson. In addition to Green, Bama has freshman Nick Jacobs and sophomores Moussa Gueye and Carl Engstrom for inside play.
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