Tide Vs. Bulls Makes Fingers Hurt

When I saw South Florida on the Alabama men's basketball schedule this year, I experienced a phantom pain in my fingers. I remembered that long ago time, well before the three-point shot had been established in college basketball, when the Crimson Tide hosted the South Florida Bulls in the Alabama Classic played in what was Memorial Coliseum. And I was working on a typewriter.

Alabama will play its first true road game of the year in Tampa at 8 p.m. CST (9 p.m. Eastern) Saturday with television coverage by ESPNU. Don't expect it to be anything like that game almost exactly 40 years ago when Coach C.M. Newton's Crimson Tide hosted South Florida in the Alabama Classic. My job in those days was to type a play-by-play, something that is generated by computer in today's world.

Even though there is now a three-point line that can inflate scores, don't expect a repeat of that 1971 game. In the only other meeting between Bama and the Bulls, Alabama scored 123 points and won the game 123-97. The 123 points scored by Bama were the most points ever scored in a game in program history. In addition, the 220 points were the most ever combined points involving an Alabama team.

That type game is not likely in the Anthony Grant era of Crimson Tide basketball.

Alabama has held two opponents this season to 60 or fewer points, winning both contests. Since Grant's arrival in 2009, his teams have held the opposition to 60 or below a total of 78 times, going 64-14 (.821) when achieving the feat.

The Tide held North Florida to only 48 points in the 76-48 win Wednesday night. It was the first time this season Bama has held an opponent to 50 or fewer points. Grant's Alabama teams have held opponents to 50 or fewer points a total of 33 times in his five seasons at The Capstone. The Tide is 31-2 (.939) when hitting that mark.

Alabama comes into the game at USF averaging 78.4 points per game - the best scoring output by a UA team in the early going in quite some time. The last time an Alabama team averaged 78 or more points through the first seven games of the season came in 2004-05 when the Tide averaged 91.7 ppg after seven games.

Alabama is allowing 68 points per game and leads the SEC in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.8 per cent). When breaking down the numbers even further, UA's defense ranks among the best in the nation. The Tide ranks 23rd in the nation in defensive efficiency, holding the opposition to .95 points per possession. The national average is 1.04 points per possession.

Alabama also ranks among the top 20 teams in the nation in both steal percentage and three-point percentage defense. Bama is 18th in the nation in steal percentage, collecting a steal on 12.2 percent of its opponents' possessions (national average is 8.9 percent). The Tide is 19th nationally in three-point percentage defense. The national average for three-point field goal percentage is 34.0 per cent, but Alabama opponents are more than six percentage points below that mark (27.8 per cent).

Alabama snapped a two-game losing streak when it defeated North Florida, 76-48, on Wednesday night. Junior guard Levi Randolph led four players in double figures with a career-best 20 points, while freshman Jimmie Taylor notched season bests of 12 points and nine rebounds.

Senior guard Trevor Releford leads all Alabama scorers with an average of 16.3 points per game.

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