Alabama Athletics

Alabama bench scoring well and Tide winning turnover battle

Oregon is first ranked team Alabama will have played this season

A year ago in Birmingham, Alabama had a 12-point halftime lead against Oregon, but the Ducks came back to take a 72-68 win over the Crimson Tide. Just over a week ago, Bama had a 12-point halftime lead against Texas in Austin, but the Longhorns took the second half and the game, 77-68.

Nothing is easier as Alabama is in Eugene, Ore., for a return game against Oregon at 3 p.m. PST (5 p.m. central time) Sunday. ESPNU will televise the game.

Oregon is 7-2 and ranked 24th in the nation, the first ranked team the Crimson Tide will have played this year. Bama is 4-3.

This will be the Tide’s fourth game on the road in the last five contests. Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum Thursday against South Carolina Upstate.

Presumably, part of the message to the Alabama basketball team from Coach Avery Johnson is the importance of finishing in the second half.

Alabama is led by freshman Braxton Key, who tops the team in scoring (10.4 ppg) and three-point shooting (.500, 9-of-18), while ranking second in rebounding (4.0). Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg), while leading UA in assists (4.4), steals (1.4) and minutes (27.3) per game, and is tied with Key in rebounding at 4.0 rpg.

Donta Hall leads Alabama in rebounding at 5.7 per game. Senior center Jimmie Taylor averages a team-best 1.9 blocks per game, while also contributing 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest.

The Alabama bench has been a strength of this year's team. Twice this season, the Tide's reserves have equaled the total scoring output of the opposition. First, the UA reserves scored 59 points in a 77-59 victory over Ball State on Nov. 18. Most recently, Alabama's bench put up 46 points in a 76-46 win over Charleston Southern on Nov. 29.

Alabama's bench is averaging 33 points a game and outscoring its counterparts by an average of 17.4 points per contest (33.0-15.6)

Alabama ranks 27th in the nation in fewest turnovers (86) and is 38th nationally in most turnovers forced (115) (as of Dec. 8).

Oregon comes into Sunday's contest boasting a 29-game winning streak at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks' streak currently ranks fourth in the nation and is the longest string of home wins in UO history. Oregon last dropped a home game Jan. 8, 2015 (Arizona, 80-62).

The Ducks are 97-13 (.882) all-time at Matthew Knight Arena since the building opened in 2011, and owns a 47-2 all-time mark in non-conference games. Oregon’s 79-73 loss to Ole Miss in 2014-15 was just the second non-conference home defeat while playing at Matthew Knight Arena. The other time Oregon lost a non-conference game at MKA was on Dec. 18, 2011, when Virginia defeated the Ducks, 67-54. UO won 28 non-conference games in a row at MKA between the two losses.

For 2016-17, Oregon returns 69 per cent of its scoring, 66 per cent of its rebounding, 71 per cent of its assists, 58 per cent of its steals and 85 per cent of its blocked shots from last season. The Ducks return seven letterwinners and four starters from last year's team that finished 31-7 and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

Oregon is led by guard Tyler Dorsey (13.8 ppg) and forward Chris Boucher (13.6 ppg).

Under Coach Avery Johnson, Alabama owns a record of 4-4 when playing top-25 teams. The four wins over nationally-ranked teams a year ago were the most wins over ranked opponents in a single season since the 2001-02 campaign. Alabama was one of just 15 teams in the nation last year who boasted at least four victories during the regular season against teams ranked in the Associated Press' top 25.

The last time Alabama defeated a ranked opponent in a true road game came on Feb. 21, 2004, when the Tide upended then-No. 4 Mississippi State, 77-73, in Starkville, Miss. The Tide's last win over a top-25 team came when it captured a 63-62 victory over then-No. 15 Texas A&M on Feb. 15, 2016.

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