In recent games, Alabama Basketball Coach Avery Johnson has been able to point to opponents who were nationally ranked, and the Crimson Tide has had some success in rising to the occasion. Just as big a challenge can be facing a team that has not had success, and that’s the case as Bama goes to Southern Miss for a 7 p.m. Friday game in Hattiesburg.
Alabama is 4-2 on the season, including back-to-back wins over nationally ranked teams in its AdvoCare Invitational tournament appearance in Orlando. Southern Miss is 0-5 this year.
This will be the fourth in a string of five road games for the Tide. Following the trip to Hattiesburg, Bama will be off for nine days and then play Clemson in Greenville, S.C., on Sunday, Dec. 13.
Alabama has an all-time record of 21-5 against Southern Mississippi, including a current streak of five consecutive wins for the Tide. Last year Alabama was an 81-67 winner over the Golden Eagles in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide is coming off unexpected success in Orlando. Playing three ranked teams in a span of four days, Alabama finished the tournament with a 2-1 record which included wins over then-No. 20 Wichita State, 64-60, on Nov. 27, followed by a 74-73 win over then-No. 17 Notre Dame on Nov. 29. It marked the first time since the 2006 season that Alabama has captured consecutive wins over ranked teams. (The loss in the tournament came at the hands of No. 23 Xavier by 64-45.)
Friday’s game will air on Fox Sports 1.
Alabama has increased its tempo in the first six games of the Avery Johnson era. The Crimson Tide’s adjusted tempo, according to KenPom.com, is at 70.1 possessions per game. That’s a significant increase from a year ago when the Tide ranked 293rd in adjusted tempo with an average of 62.4 possessions per contest
Johnson said his team would play an exciting brand of basketball and when looking at the dunk statistics, it has been just that. The Tide has 20 dunks through six games, which is an average of just over three dunks per game. In comparison, Alabama’s opponents have combined for just seven dunks on the year.
Junior forward Shannon Hale has stepped up on the offensive end over his last four contests. During that span, the Johnson City, Tenn., native is averaging 16.8 points per game, while shooting 50 percent (23-of-46) from the floor and 54.4 percent (12-of-22) from beyond the arc. He enters the game leading Alabama in scoring (13.7 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (.462), and minutes per game (28.0).
Senior guard Retin Obasohan, who averaged 6.2 points per game a year ago, ranks second on the team with 11.7 points per game. Obasohan was one of the team’s top players in the second half of the season a year ago. Over his final 12 games, Obasohan averaged 12.2 ppg, which ranked second on the team during the span, to go along with 4.7 points and 1.4 steals a game. In addition, he shot 46 percent from the floor and 41 percent from beyond the arc over the 12-game stretch.