Adapt and Overcome

Alabama and Auburn, two squads that desperately need something good to happen early in Southeastern Conference play, meet tonight in Auburn for game two of what might shape up to be a long 16-game conference schedule for the loser.

The game begins at 7 p.m. with Jefferson Pilot television coverage.

Alabama, of course, is playing its first full game without leading scorer Chuck Davis. Davis had surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments on Tuesday and is out for the rest of the year.

Things went south in a hurry for the Tide after Davis went out of the SEC opener some 13 minutes into the first half. "Ole Miss played very well," Bama Coach Mark Gottfried said. "I think they smelled blood when they knew Chuck wasn't coming back. They played well and [Dwayne] Curtis killed us inside."

Alabama stands at 7-6 and 0-1 in SEC play while Auburn has a better 8-4 overall mark but was had a 14-point loss to Vanderbilt to open its SEC season. Alabama has beaten Auburn in the last five meetings between the two schools.

Auburn is the favorite tonight, however, ranked 28th in RPI at home against No. 139 RPI Alabama.

Gottfried has taken on a slogan he observed on a U.S. military base in Kuwait this summer: "Adapt and Overcome." A mysterious aspect of Davis' absence is how drastically it will affect the Tide's style of play, which was largely an inside game on both ends of the court. In addition to Davis being Bama's leading scorer, he blocked 24 shots at the Tide is third in the league with 6.7 blocked shots per game.

"We've built some habits in some things we have put in, offensively and defensively," Gottfried said. "We're not going to try to re-invent our team at this point. That wouldn't be wise. I don't know the best thing to do is scrap everything because of one player. We're going to stay the course."

Freshman forward Richard Hendrix was beginning to come into his own as college player, but now he will be needed even more. Hendrix has scored in double figures in three of Alabama's last four games, and he has upped is rebounding total to 7.75 per game over the last four contests, when he first became a starter.

"It's going to be different going into the game without Chuck but we're going to go in and play as hard as we can and hopefully come out with a win," Hendrix said. "It's changed a little bit since being a starter but now I'm going to have to be a little more assertive and pick up what slack is with his absence. It's time to grow up."

Intent on keeping Alabama in contention to make the NCAA tournament, Hendrix said, "The goals don't change at all. Our goal is still to win the SEC and compete for a national championship. If everybody steps up and plays to our potential we can. It's just going to be a lot of hard work."


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