Going West for Bear Hunting

Alabama Men's Basketball Team (7-3) is in Las Vegas for what is considered the third round of the Finlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic. The Bears of Missouri State (7-3) is their opponent for a 7pm CST tip-off this Saturday (12/22/07). The Bears reached Las Vegas with wins over University of Texas-Pan American and Bethune-Cookman College in the first two rounds.

Missouri State is somewhat a different team than the Tide has faced as of late with their size and experience in the frontcourt. The starters are Justin Fuehrmeyer (6-0, sophomore guard), Shane Laurie (6-2, junior guard), Dale Lamberth (6-5, senior forward), Deven Mitchell (6-5, senior forward), and Drew Richards (6-9, senior center).

On offense, the Bears rely on their experienced frontcourt as they average 45 of the team's 65.6 points per game. They would like to keep this game a low scoring affair by milking the shot clock while running their half-court offense.

Leading their frontcourt is Mitchell at 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Missouri State's shooting percentages are 46.3 percent from the floor, 32 percent (55-172) from the three point line, and 68.6 percent from the free throw line.

The Bears distribute the ball at the rate of 15.2 assists and 16.3 turnovers per game. Defensively, Missouri State averages 33 rebounds, 8.7 steals, and 4.5 assists per game.

For the Tide, look for them to use their 2-3 zone for most of the night to defend the Bears' experienced frontline. Bama will also extend that into a full court press to disrupt Missouri State's half-court offense as they are prone to turnovers.

The Tide may not run much man defense as the Bears are not a prolific three point shooting team. Offensively, Bama will still need to prove their shooters can knock down the jumper. The shooters will need to earn the respect of Missouri State as they will likely zone to see if the Tide can drain it away from Tuscaloosa.

Point guard play and player rotation needs to stay the course as they have continued to improve and gel. The Tide also needs to continue increasing the level of intensity and aggressiveness as that has seen measurable improvement as well.

Missouri State has seen recent success in their program as they will not back down from anyone. Expect Bama to escape the claws of the Bears by winning in a close one.

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