Tide Basketball Goes Back To Work

Alabama basketball goes back to work Saturday after the Crimson Tide's first open date of Southeastern Conference competition. Bama will be at Georgia for a 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) Saturday game in Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and ESPN360.



Alabama has not played since hosting Arkansas a week ago. The Crimson Tide took a 73-68 come-from-behind win against the SEC Western Division leaders. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Bama, while the Razorbacks had their five-game winning streak end.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said "It was good to get a win and give the guys a couple of days to recuperate. It's been our first break in quite a while. They had Sunday off and Monday off."

Georgia is coming off a 69-60 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday.

Alabama is 14-11 overall and 4-7 in SEC play. Georgia is 11-13 overall and 3-8 in conference games.The Bulldogs, however, have been very good at home with all three conference wins coming in Athens. The Bulldogs had home wins over nationally-ranked Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Grant said, "Georgia is a good team. I think when you look at their size and physicality, they've done a great job coaching them and they believe every time they step on the floor, whether it's home or away, that they can win. They're very impressive when you watch them on film with the things that they do on both ends of the floor. They're impressive.

"I think outside of Kentucky they may be the biggest team in the league. With (Albert) Jackson and (Trey) Thompkins leading up front, and then coming off the bench they've got I think four legitimate physical front court players. Then on the perimeter, (Travis) Leslie may be one of the elite athletes in the league at 6-4. His speed and athleticism at the small forward spot really give them a front court that is as good as any in our league. Then obviously on the perimeter when you look at (Ricky) McPhee and the way he shoots the basketball, the ability to have an inside out combination with McPhee and then you look at (Dustin) Ware and then Thompkins also steps out and stretches the defense. They're so big and physical up front in the low post; it's a really good combination. They've done a very good job mixing up their defenses and giving you different looks and different things that you have to prepare for."

One thing has to give Saturday. Alabama has not defeated an SEC Eastern Division team and Georgia is winless against Western Division teams.

Saturday's game is expected to be low-scoring. Alabama is one of the league's top defensive teams, holding 11 of 13 conference opponents to under 70 points and league foes averaging just 60.8 points per game and just 40.3 per cent field goal shooting. Bama averages only 67.8 points per game and Georgia averages 67.5 points and allows just 68.2 points per game.

Grant said, "I certainly would love to be a team that scores a lot more points. I think defensively we've done a good job and it's allowed us to have an opportunity to be in games, but from an offensive standpoint we've had a tough time finding consistency. I've talked about several times where we've gone through stretches where we don't score. In both halves we'll get four or five-minute stretches, multiple stretches where we have a difficult time putting the ball in the hole. You've got to find a way to get some easy baskets whether it be in transition, maybe your defense creating some offense for you or getting to the free-throw line. Offensively not settling for jump shots or not settling for things that don't give you high percentage opportunity to get some points on the board."

Grant said he doesn't have a number in mind insofar as points are concrned. "We talk more in terms of field goal percentage," he said. "We'd like to be a team that could shoot somewhere around 45 per cent or higher from the field, 35 or higher from the three-point line." Bama has been hitting 44.8 per cent of its field goals and 35 per cent of its three-point shots in all games this season.

Alabama is led by point guard Mikhail Torrance, who has come off the bench the past two games, and post player JaMychal Green, both averaging 14.8 points per game. Green leads the Tide in rebounding at 7.1 per game. Freshman Tony Mitchell has been strong of late, averaging 11.7 points and 6 rebounds per game over the past three outings.

One interesting aspect of the game is that a Georgia assistant coach is Phillip Pearson, a former Alabama player and longtime assistant coach for the Crimson Tide who was acting head coach for Bama in the last half of the 2009 season before Grant was hired.

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