Oklahoma Visits

Alabama has a very, very difficult Southeastern Conference basketball opener, going to Arkansas for the first SEC game of the year on Saturday. But the Crimson Tide isn't likely to be looking ahead to conference play. That's because the final non-conference game of the season is a tough one for the Tide.

Eighth-ranked Alabama takes on the Oklahoma Sooners at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Coleman Coliseum. The Sooners under new coach Jeff Capel are 8-3, but not nationally ranked. The Sooners have played a schedule much like Alabama's, which is to say not very challenging. OU has losses at the hands of Memphis, Purdue and Villanova.

Oklahoma is coming off a 69-42 win over SMU last Thursday, while Bama was challenged more than the final score makes it appear in an 80-58 win over Lipscomb Friday.

There may be a diminished crowd for the game. Alabama's only interesting non-conference game of the year in a season of very weak sisters in Coleman Coliseum comes into Tuscaloosa on one of the biggest college football days of the year, the traditional big bowls day.

Tipoff will be at 1:30 p.m. CST with national television coverage by ESPN.

Alabama is 12-1 and has won 14 consecutive games in Coleman Coliseum including seven this season.

Coach Mark Gottfried's Crimson Tide has had its problems this year, but seems to be rounding into form with the end of non-conference play. Center Jermareo Davidson has been beset with personal tragedies, the deaths of his girlfriend and brother within a few weeks of one another. All-America guard Ronald Steele missed much work with knee and ankle problems, but has turned in solid games and long minutes in the last two Tide outings.

All five Bama starters are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore forwards Alonzo Gee (15.5) and Richard Hendrix (15.4). Hendrix has had a double-double (double digit performances in scoring and rebounding) in three consecutive games and four of his past give. He averages 9.2 rebounds per game. Jermareo Davidson averages 14.6 points and a team-leading 9.8 rebounds per game. Guard Mykal Riley averages 12.5 points and Ron Steele averages 10.7 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Oklahoma is led by a 6-11, 228-pound center with the unlikely first name of Longar. It's also an unusual last name. And his name is Longar Longar. And he's not from the moon or something. He's from Rochester, Minn. He averages 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

TIDE NOTES: Former Alabama player Darby Rich will be with the Oklahoma team. He is the strength and conditioning coach for the Sooners basketball squad.

Gottfried said following Alabama's win over Lipscomb that freshman forward Verice Cloyd had not been with the Tide for that game and indicated Cloyd would transfer because of a lack of playing time. Gottfried pointed out that Cloyd had passed 18 hours since entering The University and that he had a 2.7 grade point average. Cloyd was the unfortunate poster child for an NCAA witch hunt last summer. Cloyd was singled out for having attended a high school that was not accredited, even though Cloyd was later deemed eligible.

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