Tide Men’s Basketball Faces Iowa State

One can just hear coaches at Iowa State, Maryland, and Arizona State preparing their pre-game analysis of the Alabama men’s basketball team. Coachspeak of a team that was bad the previous year is always that “They are a very improved team.”

The funny thing is, Coach Anthony Grant’s Alabama team does appear to be improved over last year after three home game victories.

Alabama goes to Kansas City this week to complete the CBE Classic. The first two games in the tournament – wins over Towson (82-54) and Western Carolina (80-74) were played in Tuscaloosa. On Monday the Tide will play Iowa State at 8:30 p.m. CST with television on ESPN2. On Tuesday Bama will play either Maryland or Arizona State.

Alabama also has an 81-67 win over Southern Miss that was not part of the CBE Classic.

Good advice would be to not play Iowa State in basketball or wrestling, but Bama actually won the only previous game between the two teams, 83-68 in the Las Vegas Classic in December of 2007. This year’s Cyclones team is ranked 14th in the nation.

The Tide is led by senior guard Levi Randolph, who is averaging 19.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game – all of which leads Alabama. Junior guard Ricky Tarrant (13.7 ppg) and sophomore forward Shannon Hale (12.0 ppg) each average double figures to lead a balanced scoring attack. Sophomore center Jimmie Taylor adds 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and a team-high 2.7 blocks per game.

Meanwhile, Iowa State comes into Monday’s match-up ranked No. 14 in the nation (as of 11/23) in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Polls. The Cyclones are led by junior forward Georges Niang, who leads the team with 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game. Senior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones (17.5 ppg), sophomore guard Monte Morris (16.5 ppg), senior forward Dustin Hogue (15.0 ppg) and junior guard Naz Long (13.5 ppg) all average double figure scoring.

Through three games, Alabama has shown quite the improvement on the offensive end of the floor. The Tide is averaged 81 points per game, which ranks second in the league and 51st in the nation. The Tide has reached 80 points in each of its first three games, which marks the first time since the 2007-08 campaign, and the first time under Anthony Grant, that Alabama has opened the season with three consecutive 80-point games.

Last season, Alabama scored 80 or more points just six times.

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