Tide Must Prepare For SC Seniors

Alabama is in the final week of a dismal basketball season. Although the Crimson Tide isn't finishing against the Goliaths of Southeastern Conference basketball, Bama could go either way in these final two games. Naturally, the Tide is playing them one at a time.



Alabama is 14-14 overall and 4-10 in Southeastern Conference games. Bama will be at South Carolina Wednesday for a game that tips off at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. central time). This is the only men's basketball meeting of the year between the Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks.

Alabama will conclude regular season play Saturday when the Tide hosts Auburn. Auburn was a 58-57 winner over Alabama in an earlier meeting at Auburn. That close loss has been typical of Alabama's season. Bama is coming off a 76-73 home loss to Ole Miss.

South Carolina is also 14-14 overall. The Gamecocks are 5-9 in SEC play, including a stint as "David," a 68-62 win over Kentucky earlier this year. South Carolina is coming off a home loss at the hands of Mississippi State.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant noted that South Carolina will be playing its final home game against the Crimson Tide, meaning that it is Senior Night for the likes of Devan Downey. The guard leads the SEC in scoring at 22.5 points per game and in steals with 78. He and his teammate, fellow senior Brandis Raley-Ross, are tied for fifth in three-point shots made per game. Lakeem Jackson joins Downey as one of the top men in the league in steals, ranking sixth, and the Gamecocks' Sam Muldrow ranks second in blocked shots.

Grant said, "You look at the success that South Carolina's had under (Coach) Darrin Horn and I think it will be an emotional game. It should be a great environment so we're looking forward to that challenge.

"South Carolina is a team that has had their difficulties as of late, but I think as well all know they're very capable of beating anybody in this league on a given night with the games that they've had throughout the course of the SEC."

Alabama is led by senior guard Mikhail Torrance, who ranks 10th in the SEC at 15.5 points per game. Junior inside player JaMychal Green is averaging 14.8 points per game and leads the Tide with 7.2 rebounds per game.

Both teams rank near the bottom of the league in scoring, South Carolina ninth at 72 points per game, Bama 11th at 68. The Tide ranks second in scoring defense, allowing 64.5 points per game, while the Gamecocks are 10th in scoring defense (70.6).

Grant doesn't look for a silver lining, as he has said in the past. Asked if he is pleased with the team's performance insofar as Alabama taking a step in the right direction in this first season under Grant, the coach said, "I think that's probably something that I will evaluate at the end of the year when it's all said and done. To say that I am pleased right now with where we are – no, I would be misleading you if I told you I was. I think we'll evaluate at the end of the year what we need to do progress our team in the direction that we want to go."

Later, though, he did say that the goal is "to have a successful program more than a successful season. Our goal is program. I think we are headed in the right direction."

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