Tide Taking Hope In Knowing Gators

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant has an acceptable attitude about his Crimson Tide basketball team taking on third-ranked Florida in Gainesville Saturday. Bama hosted the Gators just two weeks ago, and so Grant said his team knows what to expect. A realistic view of the situation is not encouraging from the Tide perspective.

Alabama has lost five of its last six games, including falling to Florida in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 23 by a 68-62 margin. The Crimson Tide is now 9-13, including a 3-6 mark in Southeastern Conference games. The Gators are 20-2, including 9-0 in SEC games.

Understandably, Florida will be a big favorite to extend its recent mastery over Alabama. Through the years, the Tide built a big winning margin over the Gators, and as a result still has a 73-63 edge in the series. Florida, however, has won eight straight games against Bama and has taken 10 of the last 11 and 19 of the last 22 games. Gators Coach Billy Donovan is 20-5 against Alabama.

For the third time in Florida history, the Gators have started the season 20-2. The last two times that happened – in the 2006 and 2007 seasons – Florida went on to win the national championship.

Grant said Friday, "We played them two weeks ao, so our guys are relatively familiar with Florida and what they do. Hopefully, we'll take advantage of what we learned to be in a position to win."

Alabama is coming off a 58-65 loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville. Grant said his team "competed well. I felt we did some good things, limited them, but got hurt at times in our zone (defense)."

Grant said, "We need all of our guys to play their best against a team the caliber of Florida." That includes, he said, "taking quality shots and taking care of the basketball."

Alabama has just one senior, guard Trevor Releford. He said, "Everyone wants to win. We're down a little, but we can't stay down." Releford leads Alabama in scoring at 18 points per game.

Florida, on the other hand, starts four seniors starting, and three of them average in double figures – Casey Prather (15.7 points per game), Patric Young (10.7), and Scottie Wilbekin (12.4). Michael Frazier II, a sophomore guard, averages 12.6 points per game.

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum Wednesday against Ole Miss.

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