Crimson Tide Coach Anthony Grant, now in his sixth season at Bama, has been the winning coach against every SEC rival save one, the Florida Gators. He is 0-8 against the team and the coach, Billy Donovan, where Grant was once a key assistant coach. He was so revered by Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley that when Donovan took a weekend fling with the NBA, Foley was prepared to make Grant Donovan’s successor.
The bad news for Grant and Alabama has been the lack of success against the Gators. To be sure, Florida has had better talent than Alabama in those previous games. This year the Gators are in something of a rebuilding mode, and the results are somewhat predictable. In fact, Florida is on a three-game losing streak. The Gators have not lost four in a row since 2008.
Bama has just ended a three-game losing streak with a 57-55 win over Auburn last Saturday. Might the Crimson Tide get some momentum from that game for the Gators?
“Every game has a life of its own,” Grant said. “You can’t carryover from the last game whether good or bad.”
That’s not really throwing cold water on the situation, because Bama’s play against Auburn was more bad than good. Alabama had more talent.
So the question becomes whether the Tide, perhaps with more talent than Florida this year, can end the Gators winning streak against Bama. Donovan is 21-5 against Alabama and 6-3 against the Tide in Coleman Coliseum. Although Alabama has an all=time lead of 73-64 in the series, the Gators have nine straight wins (four in Tuscaloosa) and have won 20 of the last 23.
Grant expects another good Florida team. “All year long they have been solid defensively, and they have the potential to be explosive offensively,” he said.
Bama’s 57-55 win over Auburn took a remarkable comeback, spurred by senior captain Levi Randolph. Randolph scored 11 of his 18 points in the final eight minutes.
Grant said that Randolph’s play has been “outstanding all season. He’s given great leadership. He’s had a great year in my opinion.”
Randolph leads the team in scoring (15 points per game), assists (47), and steals (30). The 6-5 guard has a team-high 17 games scoring in double figures.
He’s expected to be joined in the starting lineup by junior point guard Ricky Tarrant (13.1 ppg), senior wing Rodney Cooper (10.7 ppg), sophomore forward Michael Kessens (7.1 ppg, 5.7 rebounds per game), and sophomore center Jimmie Taylor (4.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), and 37 blocked shots, including six against Auburn.