Tide Basketball Meets Texas Tech

So that Alabama-Oklahoma game last week, Bama blowing a big lead and losing to Oklahoma in Dallas, wasn't part of the SEC-Big XII Challenge, even though the Crimson Tide is in the Southeastern Conference and Oklahoma in the Big XII. The Challenge actually tips off Thursday night, and Bama is a part of it.

Alabama hosts the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 8 p.m. CST Thursday in Coleman Coliseum. ESPN2 will televise the game.

The Crimson Tide defeated Texas Tech, 66-62, last year in Lubbock. In fact, Bama has not lost to the Red Raiders since the 1963-64 season. Of course, the teams have played only seven previous games.

Alabama's victory last year may be part of the reason Texas Tech has a new head coach this year, one familiar to Tide Coach Anthony Grant and to Bama fans. Tubby Smith, who had success as head coach at Georgia and Kentucky before going to Minnesota, takes over the Red Raiders this year.

While Alabama is 0-1 after its 82-73 loss to Oklahoma, the Red Raiders are 3-0 – but with wins over nobody.

Grant said he is "impressed" with Texas Tech and that he expects this to be one of the most physical teams Alabama will play, one that will play good defense, shoot the ball well, and rebound.

Grant spoke highly of Smith, who he knew when Grant was an assistant at Florida and Smith was head coach at Georgia and later Kentucky. "I have a tremendous amount of respect," Grant said. "I certainly look up to and admire him."

There were two surprises in Alabama's game at Oklahoma, not even counting the surprise that Bama would open up a 16-point lead and then lose by nine points. One surprise was the Levi Randolph not only played, but that he played 31 minutes against the Sooners. Randolph had suffered a knee sprain in practice and had only two days of work before going out against Oklahoma and being forced into heavy duty because of foul trouble.

The second surprise was junior college transfer guard Algie Key hitting seven of eight field goal attempts and leading Alabama in scoring with 20 points against the Sooners.

Grant said before the Oklahoma game that Randolph showed "rust" in those couple of practices before going up against the Sooners. He said Wednesday that Randolph, a 6-5 junior, is "doing well" in his continuing rehabilitation.

Key was much better against Oklahoma than he had been in an overall uninspired exhibition game a few days earlier against West Georgia. Grant explained, "He was nervous in the first game. He played to his strength in the second game, played the way he has shown in practice."

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