Alabama is 13-1 in non-conference play and coming off a convincing 70-55 win over Oklahoma. But the stakes go up this week for Bama, which is ranked eighth in the nation, as the Crimson Tide begins SEC play at Arkansas.
One of the surprise players for Bama has been junior college transfer Mykal Riley, a 6-1 wing guard who is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He said, ""I've been really looking forward to this. I have a lot of family coming, so I'm looking forward to this trip, to this game."
It was no surprise that Riley said, "I've followed Arkansas basketball since I was a little kid. When I was little they were one of my favorite teams. They have a good program and talented players. It's going to be a challenge for us. From here on out in the SEC, every game is going to be tough because every team is good."
He said, "I like their style of play. I like their penetration to the basket. And they're quick. They have quick guards."
Riley said, "We're all excited, looking forward to it. The season starts all over again for us Saturday. I'm excited about playing in the SEC. It's my first year playing in the league, so I'm curious to see how I'll do. I think as a team we've played really, really well so far, but you can always play better, and in the SEC, you have to play your best."
Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said of Arkansas, "I think they're a tremendous team. I think they are as talented as anyone in the country. Their inside guys are tremendous and I think they've added some great perimeter players. I think (Patrick) Beverley is very good, (Gary) Ervin is very good, Sonny Weems is excellent, Stefan Welsh is good. They've got four new perimeter players to go with along with all that talent inside, so we've got a lot of respect for their players and how well they play."
Gottfried said, "Our guys are excited. We've done well in the non-conference, but now we're 0-0. We know that. Guys have come to Alabama to have a chance to win the SEC, so that's what we hope to do."