Bama: A tale of two teams

Which Alabama basketball team will show up to face Tennessee this afternoon in Thompson-Boling Arena?

Will it be the one that started out 9-0 and surged to No. 1 in the Associated Press national poll or the one that has gone 5-8 since then and tumbled out of the top 25?

Alabama is coming off a 74-69 homefloor loss to Georgia on Tuesday, but Vol coach Buzz Peterson says Bama's talent level makes the Tide an imposing foe for today's 2 p.m. tipoff.

''In just a matter of time, they could turn it around,'' Peterson said. ''On paper, they're as good as anybody in the country.

''Mo Williams is dangerous. Erwin Dudley is very dangerous. They have tremendous athletes around them, and they can defend.... This is an Alabama team that's very dangerous.''

It's also an Alabama team that's very undisciplined. The Tide has the worst 3-point field goal percentage in the SEC (30.2), yet has tried more treys than any league team except Florida. Bama isn't shooting much better inside the arc, ranking 11th among the 12 SEC schools at 41.0 percent overall. The Tide also ranks 11th in assists, suggesting there may be some selfishness at work.

In short, this Bama team is reminiscent of Jerry Green's final Tennessee team, the one that started 16-1 and surged to No. 4 in the national rankings, then fell apart down the stretch and went 6-10. Like the 2000-2001 Vols, the Tide seems to lack the teamwork and the heart to overcome adversity.

On the plus side, Bama ranks second among SEC teams in offensive rebounds per game (14.05) and second in overall rebounds per game (38.4).

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