Hendrix Leads Tide Against Aggies

Richard Hendrix has the ability to cause pain for opposing basketball teams. Unfortunately for Alabama, the outstanding junior center had some pain issues of his own this week. Bama needs Hendrix to put some hurt on one of the nation's top teams this week.

In Alabama's last outing, a tough 79-77 win over Southern Miss in Tuscaloosa's Coleman Coliseum, Richard Hendrix was going for a loose ball. Crimson Tide Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried said, "He took a knee when he dove on the floor late in the game. It hit him right in the temple area."

Gottfried said Hendrix was taken to a hospital following the game, but was not admitted. In order to be sure of his condition, though, Gottfried held him out of one practice and limited him in another.

"He's been cleared by the doctors," Gottfried said. "He's cleared to play but we want to be real careful with that for a day or two. The negative side is he just hasn't practiced so you can't improve when you don't practice. But at the same time, you want to make sure he's all the way, 100 per cent, which I think he is. So I think he's ready to go, good to go. But we just wanted to be careful with him for a few days."

Hendrix is going to need to be at his best. Alabama heads to College Station, Texas, this week to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M is ranked ninth in the nation with a 6-0 record. Tipoff is expected to be about 8:15 p.m. CST with television coverage by one of the ESPN satellite networks, ESPNU.

"Texas A&M 70, Ohio State 47," Gottfried said. "That's all you need to know." That was the score of the Aggies' game against the Buckeyes in the finals of the Pre-Season NIT in New York last Friday. Ohio State was in last year's national championship game.

"They are obviously an excellent team and we'll have to play exceptionally well to have a chance," Gottfried said. "We're playing a terrific team. This is a Texas A&M team that's got a great deal of size and it's not just a bunch of big guys that can't play. These are guys that are good players.

Joseph Jones is terrific in there. They've got a big young guy in DeAndre Jordan. I've seen one website that's got him the third pick in the draft this year coming out and he's a freshman. Josh Carter was with us at the Pan-Am Trials. I've gotten to know Josh a little bit. He's a great, great young guy but he's a terrific player and a great shooter at 6-6, 6-7. I think he led the nation in three-point field goal percentage last year. The guards are very, very good and experienced. Dominique Kirk is an experienced three-year starter; been through the wars. And then I think the kid (Donald) Sloan and (Derrick) Roland as well have some experience. So this is a team that's got a lot of pieces coming back from last year. They're a terrific team.

"We'll have our hands full guarding their sides. We can't let Carter get loose and really beat us from the three-point line."

Gottfried said the Tide is "excited" to be facing Texas A&M. "We've had some good practices the last couple of days," he said. "I think very competitive practices. We know we're not a great team right now, but I think our players are working really, really hard. I like that. I like where we are from an effort standpoint."

Alabama won't make major changes for the Aggies. "We're going to be who we are," Gottfried said. And he said that while Bama faces a challenge in A&M, the Aggies will have to guard Alabama's players, too, and Hendrix, particularly, has been tough for opponents.

"I don't think there's a player in the nation that's had the start that Richard Hendrix has had," Gottfried said. "I mean that guy has been phenomenal. He's just been really, really good."

Hendrix recognizes the challenge he and his teammates face Wednesday night.

"It's a challenge that we're going to have to accept," Hendrix said. "They're a good team. We're going to have to go in and play with the expectation to win. We have to play our basketball game. That's how we approach every game, whether the team is ranked or not. You have to go into every game expecting and believing you can win it."

Hendrix, a 6-9 forward, is averaging 23.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. He'll be joined in Bama's starting lineup by 6-6 wing Alonzo Gee averaging 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game; 6-6 wing Mykal Riley (13 points, 3.3 rebounds), 6.7 forward Demetrius Jemison (9.5 and 5.3) and 6-5 point guard Mikhail Torrance 3.3 points, 4.5 assists).

Texas A&M counters with 67 forward Josh Carter (13.7, 4.7), 6-9 forward Joseph Jones (11.5, 5.0), 7-0 center DeAndre Jordan (10.3, 8.5), 6-3 guard Donald Sloan (7.2, 4.3), and 6-5 point guard Dominique Kirk (8.5 points, 4.7 assists).

This is the eighth meeting between Alabama and Texas A&M. Bama leads the series, 6-1.

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