Tide Hosts Nation's Top-Scoring Team

The scoreboard in Coleman Coliseum hasn't been used in a while. It could get a workout Saturday night. Alabama plays host to the nation's highest-scoring team, and Bama could be a bit rusty after having taken the week off from basketball for final examinations.



Alabama will begin a three-game homestand, its longest of the season, when the Crimson Tide hosts Charleston Southern to Coleman Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. CST Saturday. Tipoff time is a half hour later than on the original schedule because the coliseum is to be used for winter commencement ceremonies earlier Saturday.

The Alabama-Charleston Southern game is the only Crimson Tide game this year not on television.

Bama Coach Anthony Grant said, "We're dealing with a team coming in here in Charleston Southern that's very impressive. We could play well and have a difficult time winning the game. This is a team that is averaging 92 points per game. They've got a veteran team. We played them last year in a highly contested game and it was a dogfight.

"They've added some pieces to their team and they are good. They went to New Mexico and scored 93 points in a very tough environment to play in. They lost a five-point game at Baylor. I know they've lost three or four games of their last five, but this is a very talented basketball team, a very well coached team. Our focus has been on being able to control the things that we can control as a team and understand what we need to be able to do ourselves that gives us the best chance to win."

Alabama comes into the game against Charleston Southern averaging 76.6 points per game. The last time an Alabama team averaged 76 or more points through the first eight games of the season came in 2007-08 when the Tide averaged exactly 76.6 ppg after eight games.

Alabama is better known for its defense than its offense. Bama is allowing 67.8 points per game and leads the SEC in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.4 percent).

Saturday's game will mark just the second meeting in the series between Alabama and Charleston Southern. The only other meeting between the two teams came last season when the Crimson Tide captured a 59-46 victory over the Buccaneers in Coleman Coliseum.

Grant said, "We are coming off of finals week for our guys. It's been a pretty hectic time for them. Since our last game, these guys have been pretty locked in to their academics. So now we're in a position to get back on the court coming off our last game, which was a tough loss at South Florida.

"The thing I'm telling our guys right now is to understand the challenge that we have in front of us and what we have to do. Obviously, eight games in to the season, our goal was to be in a different place than we are right now. When you look at the eight games, what you always try to do when you're a coach, is try to look and say where can we get better.

"The results are the results, but we're probably a couple of plays away from being in a different place, maybe 6-2 or 7-1, but at the end of the day the bottom line is as a team we have to get better. What we've done over these first eight games (a 4-4 record with the four wins at home, thr four losses on the road) is learn a lot about ourselves. I think the thing I told our guys when we met a few days ago was that as a team some things have been revealed in terms of where we are and what we need to do.

"We have some deficiencies as a team, we have some flaws, we have some limitations, but I think for us it's more on focusing on what gives us the best chance to be successful and how do we go about doing that as a team."

Grant said the schedule ahead is daunting. He told his team, "We're not going to overwhelm anyone with talent. We've got a very challenging schedule ahead of us, we're playing teams that are extremely talented that are veteran teams. We have to understand what gives us the best chance to win. For me, it's more about our mindset in terms of understand what it takes to be successful and to accomplish the things we want to accomplish as a team. So that's where we are."

Alabama's four losses have come to teams with a combined record of 27-7 (.794) [Oklahoma, 8-1; Duke, 7-2; Drexel, 6-2; USF, 6-2].

In its four home games this season, the Tide has outscored teams by an average of 23.5 points a game (82.2-58.7), while shooting 51.8 per cent from the floor and 40.0 per cent from beyond the arc. Alabama enters the game having won 14 consecutive regular-season home games.

Alabama leads the SEC and ranks 27th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (.274). UA also ranks 22nd in the nation in steal percentage, collecting a steal on 12.1 percent of its opponents' possessions. However, Charleston Southern ranks third in the nation in threes made per game (11.4) and leads the nation in scoring offense (92.1 ppg).

Alabama dropped its second two-point decision of the young season with a 66-64 loss to South Florida on Dec. 7 in Tampa. The Tide was led by sophomore guard Retin Obasohan's career-best 20 points. It marked the Tide's third loss over its last four games.

Senior guard Trevor Releford leads all Alabama scorers with an average of 16.4 points per game. The Bob Cousy Award Watch list honoree has connected on 48.9 per cent (45-of-92) of his shots from the floor, while also averaging 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Obasohan is second on the team with 14.4 ppg and tops UA with 2.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per contest. The 6-1, 205-pound guard also leads the squad in free throws made (48) and attempted (65).

Juniors Nick Jacobs (11.5 ppg) and Levi Randolph (11.3 ppg) are also averaging double figures in the early going. Randolph also leads the team in three-point field goal percentage (.450, 9-of-20).

Alabama ranks seventh in the SEC in field goal accuracy at 46.9 per cent. The Tide leads the SEC in three-point field goal percentage defense, holding the opposition to 27.4 per cent shooting from beyond the arc. UA is outrebounding the competition through its first eight games by 3.9 rebounds a game (38.2-34.4) and outscoring foes by 8.8 points a game (76.6-67.8).

Following Saturday's game vs. Charleston Southern, Alabama will welcome No. 12/8 Wichita State (9-0) on Dec. 17 and Xavier (7-3) on Dec. 21 to Coleman Coliseum. The Tide will close the year on the road at nationally-ranked UCLA (8-1) on Dec. 28.

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