Alabama men’s basketball team concludes its longest regular season road swing (five consecutive games) since the 2000-01 season when Bama travels to Greenville, S.C., to take on the Clemson Tigers today. Tipoff is at at 5 p.m. CST (6 p.m. Eastern time). The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The game against Clemson will make six road contests in Alabama’s first eight games of the season – the first time since the 1992-93 season that an Alabama team has opened a year with six road games through the first eight contests of the year.
Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said, “We’re excited to get back on the court and get back on the road and play against a really good Clemson team. We’ve had some margin of success playing on the road this year, so it’s not anything we’re afraid of or hesitant about. Our guys are confident; not necessarily overconfident by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re ready for a game now.
“It’s been a long week with a bunch of final exams. Hopefully they all did well in their final exams. I know they’ve been working really hard, and we’ve had to mix in having practices and giving them time off to study and get with their tutors.
“They are definitely ready to get back on the court. I’m ready to get back. Not having a game for an entire week, that’s like an eternity. We’re ready to get back.”
The Tide captured a 58-55 victory over Southern Miss in its previous game on Dec. 4 in Hattiesburg. Alabama has won three straight non-conference games away from Tuscaloosa for the first time since winning three consecutive contests at the Puerto Rico Tipoff to begin the 2011-12 season.
Should the Tide win at Clemson, it will mark the first time an Alabama team will have won four consecutive road non-league contests since the 2001-02 campaign.
While Alabama is back in action, it is now without one of its most dynamic players, freshman starting point guard Dazon Ingram. Ingram, who started the first seven games, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Last week he suffered a broken foot that required surgery. Ingram led the Tide in rebounds (5.9) and assists (3.3) per game, while also averaging 7.7 points and shooting 54 percent from the field.
Johnson said that the surgery was successful and that Ingram is expected to make a complete recovery.
The loss of Ingram means that sophomore Justin Coleman, who was back-up at point, and senior Retin Obasohan, who has been playing very well at guard, will have to step up, Johnson said. He added, “We may have to play some point-forward action using Riley Norris and Arthur Edwards. It’s going to have to be by committee because it’s not like when I played. I was strictly an assists guy. That was it. Dazon is a milti-dimensional player.
“He’s a triple-double machine waiting to happen.”
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.
Over the Tide’s last two games, Edwards is averaging 16 points and shooting 75 per cent (12-of-16) from the field and 67 per cent (8-of-12) from beyond the arc in wins over then-No. 17 Notre Dame and at Southern Miss.
Obasohan, who scored a game-high 20 points in the win at Southern Miss, ranks second with 12.9 points per game through Alabama’s seven contests this season. Over his last two games, Obasohan is leading the team with 19.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 37.5 minutes per game. He has also hit 10-of-13 free throws (.769).
Junior forward Shannon Hale has stepped up on the offensive end over his last five contests. He is averaging 15.2 points per game, shooting 46.4 per cent (26-of-56) from the floor and 48.3 per cent (14-of-29) from beyond the arc. He is leading Alabama in scoring (13.0 ppg).
Clemson is 6-2 this year and has an all-time record of 5-3 against the Tide. The teams have not played since 2009.
Following the game in Greenville, Alabama will return to Tuscaloosa to host Winthrop at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday. The game will air on the SEC Network.