Some May Believe Hell Froze Over
Alabama is 9-10 overall and 3-3 in Southeastern Conference games, but Bama is 0-7 on the road. Auburn is 8-9 overall, but winless in six SEC games this year. Something has to give when they play Thursday in Auburn.
The game, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed to Thursday night and will begin approximately 25 minutes following the Auburn-Texas A&M women's game, which begins at 5 p.m. CST. The Bama-Tigers game will be televised on the SEC Network.
The postponement was due to the blanket of snow and ice across the state making travel treacherous.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said his team will be "trying to come up with our first road game win against a team that, in my opinion, is playing good basketball. For us, it's going to take defensive intensity, good shot selection, and taking care of the basketball."
Grant might have added "Don't foul!" In its two SEC road games this year, the Tide has given up 78 total free throws (39 per game) to the opposition. As a result, Alabama has been outscored by 26 points from the foul line in SEC road contests.
The Crimson Tide is going to have plenty of road work over the next few weeks. The Auburn game is the first of five of its next seven games away from Tuscaloosa.
Thursday night's game will mark the 148th meeting between the two schools, which is the fourth-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Crimson Tide owns an 89-58 edge in the series. Alabama has won six of the last seven games played between the two teams. Bama has an all-time record of 25-27 at Auburn, including winning two of the last three at Auburn. Grant has a 6-2 record against the Tigers, including a 2-2 record at Auburn.
Alabama's last trip to Auburn was an offensive disaster, even by the Crimson Tide's paltry standards. Bama fell by 49-37. It was the lowest scoring output by the Tide in the all-time series. Alabama led by 10 points at halftime, but was outscored 36-14 in the second half. Overall, Alabama shot just 28.6 per cent (14-49) from the field. The Tiger's scored 21 points off 16 Tide turnovers.
Good news for Bama's offensive production over the past nine games has been the play of freshman forward Shannon Hale. In Alabama's first 10 games of the year, Hale had zero starts, played in nine games, and averaged 11 minutes per game playing time. He also averaged only 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds.
In the last nine games, Hale has eight starts, has averaged 25.8 minutes per game, and is averaging 12.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His shooting percentage has improved from 32.1 per cent over the first half of the season to 51.3 per cent the second half.
His 13.3 points per game in conference play ranks third among SEC freshmen and 18th overall. Over his last nine games, Hale is second on the team in scoring and rebounding.
In his last outing, an 82-80 win over LSU, Hale had a college career high with 17 points, including the go-ahead three-point shot in the final minute of play.
There is a chance that the one-day delay in the game will have a positive benefit for Alabama. Bama has been without starting guard Retin Obasohan the past two games after the sophomore suffered a strained hip flexor in practice a week or so ago. Grant said that the cure for Obasohan is "rest," and he's getting an additional day with the postponement. Before the delay, Grant said that the possibility of Obasohan being able to play would be a gametime decision.
Obasohan averages 12.2 points per game and also leads the SEC in steals at 2.4 per game. Senior guard Trevor Releford leads Bama in scoring at 18.2 points per game and is right behind Obasohan in steals at 2.3 per game.
For the season, Alabama is shooting 45.3 per cent from the floor and 33.6 per cent from beyond the arc. The Tide is outscoring the competition by 3.6 points a game (70.6-67.0). Alabama ranks fifth in the SEC and 53rd in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (31.1 per cent). The Tide also ranks third in the SEC in free throw shooting (.699).
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