Alabama Home To South Carolina
Alabama reached a new level of cautionary semantics in listing freshman star JaMychal Green as "expected to be probable" when the Crimson Tide hosts South Carolina at 2 p.m. Saturday in Coleman Coliseum. The game will be regionally televised.
South Carolina has been one of the surprise teams of the year as the Gamecocks have forged a 17-5 overall record and 6-3 SEC mark under new head coach Darrin Horn. Bama has been a surprise in the other direction. The consensus pre-season choice to win the SEC Western Division, Alabama has a 13-10 overall record and ranks towards the bottom of the division with a 3-6 conference record. Bama dismissed head coach Mark Gottfried earlier this year and Philip Pearson is the Tide's interim coach.
One reason for South Carolina success this year has been the outstanding play of 5-9 guard Devan Downey. He is averaging 20 points (third best in the SEC) and 4.4 assists (fourth in the league) and the Gamecocks lead the conference in scoring at 80.4 points per game.
Pearson said, "He's a very, very good player. I would say that he, Jodie Meeks of Kentucky and Marcus Thornton at LSU are the three toughest match-ups from a perimeter standpoint. He's so fast, so quick. He can get in the paint; he can create baskets for other guys on the floor if you help. He pitches it to a shooter. You help up from the post and he drops one down for a layup. Those sorts of things."
Downey had 29 points in South Carolina's 67-65 win over the Tide in Columbia last year.
Alabama has been getting strong play from Green, but in last weekend's loss at LSU the freshman suffered a hip pointer when he fell while trying to defend an LSU fast break. Green, who is averaging 10 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, was able to play only 10 minutes against the Tigers. He had eight points and four rebounds at the time of his injury.
South Carolina has weapons beyond Downey. In what is one of the most lethal backcourt combinations in the SEC, Downey is joined by 6-0 senior guard Zam Fredrick, who is averaging 15.9 points per game.
Bama's Pearson said, "Maybe with the exception of LSU, they probably are playing as well as anyone in the league. They'll be awfully difficult to defend with Downey and Fredrick. They create a lot of turnovers and cause a lot of havoc on the defensive end."
Alabama did not have a midweek game after back-to-back road contests, losses at Arkansas and LSU. Pearson said, "I think not having a game in the middle of the week came at a good time for us."
Alabama is 11-3 in games in Coleman Coliseum.
If Green is unable to play, his place in the lineup will be taken by either 6-10 Yamene Coleman or 6-8 Demetrius Jemison. Following Green's injury against LSU, Jemison got more play than usual and responded with his best game, nine points on 3-3 shooting, two rebounds and two assists.
Bama is led by senior Alonzo Gee, who averages 14 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Mikhail Torrance is expected to be at point guard with 6-9 Justin Knox at the second post position. Senario Hillman has been the starter at the wing opposite Gee, averaging 13 points per game, but not shooting well from outside.
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