Stuart McNair

Alabama and Valparaiso meet in semifinals of Las Vegas tournament

Reserves playing big role for Alabama men’s basketball

From time-to-time a coach is questioned about his starting lineup, usually when a reserve player seems to be performing better than the first teamer. A typical coach answer is along the lines of “I’m more concerned about who finishes than who starts.”

There’s also the old theory that some play better off the bench than as starters. Whatever the reason, one might expect one or more backup players to play a role for the Alabama basketball team of Coach Avery Johnson when the Crimson Tide takes on Valparaiso Monday night – late Monday night – at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Alabama (2-1) and Valparaiso will participate in the Heavyweight Division of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event at 11 p.m. CST (9 p.m. PST). That contest will follow the BYU-Saint Louis game, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. CST (6:30 p.m. PST).

Monday's game will be not be televised but will be streamlined on

The winners of Monday's games will advance to play in the championship game on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. CST (9 p.m. PST) Wednesday, with the consolation game tipping off at 8:30 p.m. CST (6:30 p.m. PT).

Alabama is coming off an impressive 77-59 victory over Ball State last Friday night. The Tide led by as many as 29 points before settling for the 18-point win. The Alabama reserves stole the show, accounting for 59 of the team's 77-point total. Senior forward Shannon Hale led UA with 19 points, while Ar'Mond Davis (17) and Avery Johnson Jr. (13) both reached double figures. 

The Alabama bench has proven to be a difference make through the early part of the season. The Tide's reserves have outscored its counterparts by a total 66 points on the year (113-47). Through three games on the year, the Alabama bench is averaging 37.7 points, compared to just 15.7 points by the opposition.

The Tide boasts nine players averaging double digit minutes and 11 players getting at least eight minutes of playing time per game. Moreover, Alabama has eight players averaging five or more points per game.

 The Crimson Tide practiced on the MGM Garden Arena floor for approximately two hours on Sunday afternoon. The Tide arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday in order to get acclimated to the surroundings and Pacific Time Zone.

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