Releford Due Back For Wichita State
If ever a team needed a quality win, it is Alabama. The Crimson Tide is 5-4 this year with the wins coming against weak sisters. When Bama has come up against decent competition, it has not fared well.
Tuesday's game won't be against "decent competition." It will be against one of the best teams in the nation. Wichita State, which reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament last season, is ranked eighth in the nation in the Coaches Poll and 11th by the Associated Press. The Shockers are 10-0 and coming off a romp over Tennessee, which is expected to be one of the better teams in the Southeastern Conference.
Wichita State, which was 30-9 last season, will be the highest ranked non-conference team to play in Coleman Coliseum since Purdue on December 12, 2009. The Boilermakers were ranked fifth in the nation and downed Bama by a 73-65 score.
Alabama is very secretive regarding injuries and suspensions. In Bama's latest outing, a 59-45 win over Charleston Southern, it was not announced until after the game why All-SEC senior guard Trevor Releford had been held out of the game. The post-game explanation was that Releford had suffered a hip injury earlier in the season and that he was being rested.
Releford is expected back for Tuesday's game, Coach Anthony Grant said Monday. Releford is Bama's leading scorer at 16.4 points per game.
Alabama has an all-time record of 3-2 against Wichita State. In the two most recent meetings, the Shockers defeated the Crimson Tide, 66-57, in the finals of the NIT at Madison Square Garden at the end of the 2011 season, while Bama downed Wichita State, 70-60, a few months later at the start of the 2012 season en route to Alabama winning the championship of the Puerto Rico Tipoff in San Juan.
Grant was understandably complimentary of Wichita State. He said, "They do a great job on the defensive end. Offensively, they are balanced and explosive. It will be a challenge for our guys. They are a veteran team and play well together. They play extremely hard. They are very well coached."
In Releford's absence last Saturday, guard Retin Obasohan paced the Tide with 22 points. Based on recent starting lineups and assuming no as of yet undisclosed injuries or suspensions, Releford and Obasohan can be expected to be joined in the starting lineup by guard Levi Randolph, forward Nick Jacobs, and center Jimmie Taylor.
Alabama will return the game to Wichita State next year.
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