Banged Up Bama Takes On MSU Bulldogs

Remember back during football recruiting season, just a few weeks ago, when Recruiting Analyst John Garcia, Jr., introduced the “trending” segment to BamaMag.com? He had prospects with an arrow pointing up if things looked good for Alabama, an arrow going down if things looked bad for the Crimson Tide, and an arrow horizontal if there was no change.

If you put that system on Alabama basketball injuries right now there wouldn’t be any up arrows, and there probably would be two going down.

It is a certainty that junior Ricky Tarrant, Bama’s second leading scorer and starting point guard, would be down. He’s missed three games since suffering a lower leg injury against Florida, and he is counted out for Tuesday night’s Crimson Tide game at Mississippi State.

Junior Retin Obasohan replaced Tarrant as the Tide starting point guard in games against Kentucky and Missouri, but prior to Saturday’s game at LSU, Obasohan came down with an infection in his hand. He is considered doubtful for Tuesday against the Bulldogs.

Michael Kessens, a 6-9 sophomore who is the Crimson Tide’s leading rebounder, went out in the second half against LSU. He was going to try to practice Monday and it will be a game day decision on whether he is able to play at Mississippi State.

Bad injury luck is not what Alabama needed going into the second half of Southeastern Conference play. The Tide is 14-9 overall and 4-6 in SEC games. Speaking of bad luck, in four of Bama’s nine losses the game has come down to the final possession.

Alabama and Mississippi State (11-12, 4-6) will meet at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday in Starkville. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, “I think Mississippi State is a team that’s playing really good basketball right now. They’re coming off of a tough loss this weekend (41-61 at Arkansas), but had a great win at Tennessee, great win at home against LSU.

“I think they’re playing really well together. They’ve got a deep team, a team that’s got good size, good speed. They shoot the ball well. This will be a great challenge for us.”

Alabama and Mississippi State are the two closest teams geographically in the SEC (about 90 miles apart) and ordinarily play twice a year, but in the new SEC format this is the only scheduled meeting between the two this year. The teams have played 191 times, the most games against any opponent for Alabama, and the Tide has won four in a row and six of the last seven and has a 118-73 lead in the series.Bama is 37-54 all-time in Starkville, but has won the last two games there.

With Tarrant out and Obasohan doubtful, the starting job at point guard is expected to go to 5-10, 160-pound freshman Justin Coleman, who has averaged 4.9 points and 1.3 steals per game while playing an average of about 19 minutes per contest.

“We have a lot of confidence in Justin,” Grant said. “He has a natural leadership quality. There’s a lot of grit and toughness about him.”

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