Tide Tries To Get Back On Track

For a dozen years, Anthony Grant and Billy Donovan went to work together and Grant really enjoyed it Thursday night, Grant and Donovan will be at work in the same building, and Grant said he is "not necessarily looking forward to" the event.

That's because Alabama, coached by Anthony Grant, will be hosting Florida, coached by Billy Donovan, in a Southeastern Conference basketball game. Grant has frequently referred to his relationship to Donovan and their time together, particularly at Florida where Grant spent 10 years, five as assistant to Donovan and five as Donovan's associate coach. Grant was also an assistant for two years under Donovan at Marshall.

Grant said that because of the close relationship he has had with Donovan, "from my perspective I'm not necessarily looking forward to competing against a good friend."

Grant called the relationship "much bigger than basketball." He said that among strengths Donovan brings to the game are motivation and passion.

But, Grant said, the relationship must be put aside for a time. "We're nearing the halfway point of the SEC," he said.

Alabama is 13-8 overall and 3-4 in SEC games. The Gators are 15-6 overall and 4-3 in league contests.

Tipoff Thursday in Coleman Coliseum will be at 6 p.m. CST.

Grant said he is "looking forward to getting back on the court," even though the game is against Donovan's team. That has to be in great part because of the Crimson Tide's poor performance in its last outing. Alabama let a late lead and a couple of chances for victory in the final seconds get away in a 58-57 loss to Auburn at Auburn last Saturday.

Grant said Bama has to get back on track. "We continue to do the things we've always done," he said. "It's one game. You don't want to lose a game in the fashion we lost that one. We didn't do the things we needed to do. We've got to be able to execute and take care of the basketball. In our last game we didn't take care of the basketball, didn't do a good job of executing and didn't play good defense.

"In this league you have to move on. You can't dwell on defeat."

Florida is also coming off a disappointing loss. The Gators suffered a one-point setback at the hands of Tennessee, 61-60, on Sunday in Knoxville.

Grant was complimentary of the Gators, pointing out the weapons Florida has both on the perimeter and inside.

Alabama will do battle with a defense that has been outstanding. Seven of Bama's last nine opponents have shot under 40 per cent from the field. SEC teams are shooting a combined 37.8 per cent on field goals against the Crimson Tide.

Three-point defense has been particularly good. Alabama's last three opponents are a combined 6-43 (14 per cent) from beyond the arc. Additionally, he Alabama defense has limited SEC opponents to 0.87 point per possession, best in the conference.

Alabama is led by guard Mikhail Torrance, who is shooting 50.2 per cent from the field and averaging 15.1 points per game, and inside player JaMychal Green, averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. Both are coming off poor games. Torrance missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity that would have extended Alabama's lead to three points with just 22 seconds to play against Auburn, then had a costly turnover with the score tied that led to Auburn making the winning point. Green fouled out of the game, the first time this season he has been disqualified in an SEC game.

Florida has four starters averaging in double figures -- guard Kenny Boynton 14.4, guard Erving Walker 13.0, forward Alex Tyus 12.8, and forward Chandler Parsons 10.7. Center Vernon Macklin is just under the double figures mark at 9.8 points per game.

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