Thursday, February 25, 2021

Hogtied... Hogs bludgeon Tide 81-66

Box score

Refs were bad, but shooting was worse. We reverted to our losing formula from Nov/December where we'd chuck up 3s when behind without getting the ball inside first.

While I am glad Bruner is back, I think in the 2nd half he hurt us more than helped as he was overconfident with his 3 straight 3s made to end the first half. Also, he should not be the one taking the most shots (14) in this offense.

Herb was mostly bad yesterday as his 5 TOs led the team (and most of them were really bad).

Gary was the highlight as his 9 boards was a team high... and he seem to have the most energy last night.

Oh well... can't win them all... just need to knock off $tate for our first outright SECT in about 20 years (2002 season).

#1 seed is probably out of reach now... want to defend that 2 seed though and need to win the last 2 games to sew that up. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Game Preview: (6) Alabama at (20) Arkansas

  With LSU’s loss at Georgia, Will Wade’s squad can no longer win the SEC outright. Tomorrow night’s matchup between Alabama and Arkansas now becomes the first potential SEC title game for Alabama. This is what we’ve been waiting for, everyone. Tip is set for 8:00 on ESPN2. 

The Opponent: Arkansas is now a different squad than what Alabama destroyed (90-59) in Coleman Coliseum last month. The Hogs have won 7 straight and have knocked off Missouri, Florida and others in the process.  The one glaring difference is the effort that Arkansas has consistently brought since the loss in Tuscaloosa. Eric Musselman has demanded his team play hard and the kids have responded. I won’t bore you with the fancy stats this time...this won’t be nearly as easy as it was for the Tide the first time around. The only stat that matters to me in this game is home and away. Arkansas is 13-1 at Bud Walton arena this season and Alabama has struggled there for years. 

Players to Watch: This is a no-brainer as it pertains to Arkansas. 6’5 G Moses Moody is NBA ready in my opinion and quite frankly could’ve scored as many as he wanted in the first matchup. Luckily, Alabama’s nearly perfect play on offense seemed to kill his motivation in the 2nd half. Moody and Notae combine for over 80% of offense for Arkansas when you factor in both points and assists. Alabama MUST defend without fouling. If the referees begin to control this game in the manner that Pat Adams and his crew did last Saturday...it will be detrimental to the road team

 Alabama is starting to get healthy again and the Tide offense has proven it. Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackleford have particularly been impressive of late whereas John Petty has cooled off a bit. I expect a big game from 23, but I think the player to watch this time is Jordan Bruner. In his first game back against Vanderbilt, Bruner provided excellent minutes although he only managed a single point. The defensive effort and rebounding will always be there for Bruner, but Alabama is nearly unbeatable when he is able to provide points in the paint while the Guards are shooting well from the perimeter. 

My Thoughts: This is it, friends. The game we’ve wished, hoped and prayed would happen for nearly 2 decades. Alabama is a win over Arkansas away from being crowned SEC Champions and hanging a new banner. The team has played extremely well on the road this SEC season save for a miserable first 35 minutes at Missouri. We can only hope that the much maligned SEC officials actually allow the players to determine the outcome tomorrow night. If that is the case, AND the culture has truly shifted to the point that Alabama brings the energy and effort into a big game on the road...Bama will win the SEC Championship tomorrow night

Prediction: Alabama 79, Arkansas 74

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Shack stymies Stackhouse's Squad... 82-78 Bama squeaks out a W

Box score

This is the type of game we need to play... horrific from 3 and found a way to win against an improving Vanderbilt squad.

Shack was the hero today with 27 points... most of them driving to the hoop. Q and Reese made half of our 3s today (5 of 10).

Good to see Bruner back... as he gets his hoops legs back under him and with Q getting better (best 3 point shooter today) I really am liking this team to make noise in the NCAA Tournament.

Next up... @ Arkansas who is a much different team than the one we curbstomped earlier in the year.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Game Preview: (8) Alabama vs Vanderbilt

 It seems like an eternity since we’ve watched Bama Hoops take the court. A postponement of the Texas A&M matchup offered Alabama some extra, perhaps unnecessary time off for an offense that has regained its rhythm, but it also provided time for the likes of Herbert Jones, Juwan Gary and Jordan Bruner to heal up a bit. As per usual Vanderbilt has gotten hot in February just in time to visit Tuscaloosa . Alabama will be looking to place itself on the doorstep of clinching the SEC title with a win. Tip is set for 11:00 on SECN. 

The Opponent: Vanderbilt comes into the contest sitting at 114 in KENPOM and sporting a 6-11 record. Having recently won tilts against South Carolina and at Mississippi State, the Commodores have looked solid as of late. It’s all started on the perimeter for Vanderbilt as the recipe is fairly simple for Jerry Stackhouse’s club; If the 3s are falling, they compete. If the Dores can’t consistently hit from the perimeter, they’re usually in for a long 40 minutes. 

 Vanderbilt is also at the bottom of the SEC in 3pt defense and that doesn’t bode well against a team like Alabama. 

Players to Watch : Much to the delight of Alabama fans, the Tide won’t have to contend with the likes of Saben Lee tomorrow as he is currently a member of the Detroit Pistons program. Lee dropped 38 in Tuscaloosa last year and singlehandedly decimated Alabama’s hopes for an at-large bid. However, his partner in crime Scottie Pippen Jr has taken the reigns and is beginning to lead the program nicely. Pippen is one of only 2 players in the league averaging 20+ points and 5+ assists per game. One would expect Herbert and JP to spend the majority of time defending Pippen who is most dangerous in the half court set. Bama will want to make Vanderbilt try and run with them in order to keep Pippen and his pals out of sync in the half court. 

 It’s once again difficult to point the finger at only one Alabama player as 5 men in crimson and white reached double figures last weekend against Georgia. Herbert Jones displayed on of the finer games you’ll ever see played on the collegiate level and proved that he is simply a different animal when he’s healthy. His back has been given an entire week of rest this time so one would only expect Jones to continue to improve. I’m also going to have my eye on Joshua Primo. The super freshman didn’t score a single point in the first half last week, yet ended with 19 in only 11 minutes of work. Again....Vandy’s perimeter defense has been suspect. Primo, Petty, Shackleford and Quinerly could all have big days behind the arc. 

My Thoughts: I simply don’t believe Vanderbilt can score enough in this game. The Alabama offense is returning to form and the guards are shooting with confidence again. Defense has slipped a bit as of late-enough to drop the Tide out of the top spot in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency stat. Vandy will score at times but Bama will likely have a few too many offensive spurts to allow the Commodores to keep it very close. The SEC Championship is so close that the Tide can taste it. I expect them to be hungry and show it. 

Prediction: Alabama 82 Vanderbilt 72

Nate Oats gets contract extended and nice raise to boot

Link

Generally I am against doing this sort of thing early on in a coaching contract (got burnt by Grant and Gottfried before), but in this case I get it. Oats would be a highly sought after coach and extending him with the payraise ($3.225 mil/yr) makes poaching him less obtainable unless it was a Kentucky or North Carolina type school calling.

Being honest, I was iffy about him being hired as more often than not the mid major coaches flame out at Power 5 schools, but I admit I was wrong. 

Hopefully this turns into a bigger investment into basketball itself (maybe a new arena down the road).

Friday, February 12, 2021

Game Preview: (10) Alabama vs Georgia

  Find a way. It’s what good teams do in the worst of times. Alabama’s offense was back to its ripping and running ways at South Carolina and it was a relieving sight. Yet the creeping February dread I mentioned in my last preview still lingered due to an early injury to F Juwan Gary and South Carolina’s offensive output. Alabama sealed the victory with help from a brilliant defensive strategy implemented late by Nate Oats by which the Tide D baited SC into taking a wide open layup for 2 while Bama was up 3. CHEF’S KISS! James Rojas subsequently made a couple of FTs to ice the game away. Unfortunately, Alabama will be without the services of Gary for up to 2 weeks as the team will welcome Georgia into Tuscaloosa tomorrow. Alabama enters the game leading the conference standings by 3.5 games and only needing 3 more wins to clinch the SEC title. Tip is set for 2:30 on SECN. 

The Opponent: Georgia comes into Tuscaloosa with a 12-7 overall record (5-7 in SEC play). Tom Crean has struggled to field a tournament quality team regardless of having Anthony Edwards. Part of that is due to Bruce Pearl curiously raiding the talent of the Atlanta area right underneath Crean’s nose. I digress. This year’s Bulldog squad is no different. A decent preseason start has given way to a lackluster conference performance but the Dawgs have still shown potential at times. This matchup favors Alabama, however as Georgia is dead last in the conference in scoring defense giving up about 83 PPG. The Bulldogs score close to 75 PPG. Georgia does most of its damage in the paint and is actually 2nd in the league in FG% at 46%. This makes it head scratching when considering they convert FTs at a 67% clip-good for next to last in the conference. 

Players to Watch: It’s hard not to like Georgia PG Sahvir Wheeler’s game. He leads Georgia in PPG (13.5), minutes per game and APG (7.5). The only G in the league with better vision is Sharife Cooper in my opinion. The only negative to Wheeler’s game is that he can occasionally be prone to turnovers when he tries to do too much. 

 Alabama’s John Petty Jr seems to be rounding into offensive form again for the Tide and that’s a very good sign. I expect a big game from him again tomorrow but I’m gonna have my eyes on Jahvon Quinerly. He seems to finally be back to pre “medical condition “ form as he contributed 13 big points against SC and protected the ball much better in the 2nd half. His role as primary ball handler becomes more vital as Herb Jones has simply become a liability on the offensive end at times as he’s been unable to practice due to a back injury. Fortunately, Herb hasn’t let any of those issues hurt his performance on the defensive end. 

My Thoughts: This matchup looks great for Alabama on paper. To put it simply, Bama takes this one easily IF IT BRINGS THE NECESSARY EFFORT. Having said that, the injuries have actually seemed to add a bit of a chip on the Tide’s shoulders . The team loves to be doubted and there are many that wonder if Bama can continue to find a way through the mounting injuries. One thing has remained a constant for Alabama and its defense. Alabama is now currently at the top of KENPOM’s adjusted defense stat. While some may choose to point out South Carolina’s 78 points, they neglect to note the inflated possessions that are a direct result of Alabama’s blistering offensive pace. I expect Alabama to be productive turning defense in to offense tomorrow. The magic number should decrease to 2. 

Prediction: Alabama 84, Georgia 69

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Bama stunts the Cocks 81-78

Box score

I can't really give a wrap up as I did not watch (followed on my phone while watching HS Lacrosse), but it seems like GOOD Petty showed up and bailed us out.

Posted this for comments...

Monday, February 08, 2021

Game Preview: (11) Alabama at South Carolina

  It seems as though this game can’t get here fast enough as Alabama will look to erase the negative emotions associated with Saturday’s events. In a game in which the SEC title could essentially be clinched, a projected 1 seed on the line and televised on the worldwide leader of sports-Alabama looked inexplicably horrid and flat for 34 minutes...yet still could’ve pulled out a miraculous comeback if a less than 100% Herb Jones doesn’t run into his four year issue of not being able to finish point blank layups. Nonetheless, Alabama holds a 3 game lead in the SEC standings as we head into the homestretch toward the SEC regular season title. Tip is set for Tuesday at 5:30 CT on SECN. 

The Opponent: South Carolina will be the first opponent Alabama has faced in 12 games that isn’t ranked inside KENPOM’s top 60. The Gamecocks currently sit at 84 and sport a less than stellar overall record of 5-7. South Carolina averages about 73 PPG while also giving up nearly 76. Frank Martin’s club is dead last in the SEC in FT% and 315th nationally. OOF. This doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, however. This is a team that went on the road to beat Florida in Gainesville at a time when the Gators were #22 in the land. Alabama can’t afford to overlook anyone right now-especially in a road contest in which the Tide could be without 2 key players. 

Players to Watch: South Carolina has 3 talented scorers that each average double figures. F Keyshawn Bryant is a worker in the paint. He scores 14.5 PPG and also leads the Gamecocks in blocked shots. It’s G AJ Lawson that can fill it up, however. Lawson averages 17.5 PPG and has been even better in SEC play at 18.5 PPG

The news has broken that Coach Oats could choose to sit Herb Jones tomorrow to give the senior wing an opportunity to heal his ailing back which has caused him some issues with being able to finish. It’s only my opinion but I think it’s past time to do just that. While Alabama has ascended to 2nd in KENPOM’s adjusted Defense since Jones began running the point, Alabama’s offense has gone down a click to 33rd in KENPOM’s adjusted offense. The trend coincides with the injury to Jordan Bruner and Jahvon Quinerly’s medical issue, however. This could be an opportunity to allow the Tide’s better offensive players to regain some rhythm and confidence. Jones is Alabama’s heart on the defensive end and there is no denying it. However, the Alabama offense can NOT reach it’s peak unless John Petty and Jaden Shackleford are shooting with confidence. Shackleford has shown signs of re-emerging of late while Petty has not been his usual self offensively. The horrid South Carolina transition defense could be just the remedy needed for 23, 11, 5 and 14 if the Tide protects the ball themselves. 

 My Thoughts: To put it simply, Alabama has to bring the effort night in and night out if it wants to close out the regular season with the SEC title. The schedule lightens up drastically for the Tide going forward but it can’t afford to relax. Saturday had an all too familiar feel for scarred Alabama basketball fans. Completing the comeback would’ve came with a feeling of destiny and a magical moment to talk about for years. Instead the creeping dread of “here we go again” whispered to us yet again even though the stats and analytics scream that this Alabama team is genetically different. That demon must be exorcised. Going on the road and beating an inferior opponent would be a great start. Especially considering Missouri has to travel to Oxford to play a hot Ole Miss squad. Bama will miss Herb on defense a bit but it’s offense explodes in the 2nd half behind hot shooting from the guards. 

Prediction: Alabama 90, South Carolina 75

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Undefeated dream over. Mizzou hangs on 68-65

Box score

Cliff notes- we could not overcome (but almost did) a REALLY BAD 34 minutes with an exceptional final 6 minutes of the game. We had 2 chances to take the lead, but Herb missed a bunny and on the next possession was blocked (foul clearly not called) and at the end a 3 missed the mark to tie.

Also... a putrid day from the FT line (12/21) highlighted by Rojas missing all 3 of his FT after being fouled on a 3 pt attempt.

When you shoot 33% from the field (Ellis only player to shoot better than 50%) you probably should not win, but defensively we held Mizzou to 3-20 from 3. The issue all day was Mizzou in the paint... they ate our lunch there.

We are missing Bruner in there and need him back.

On to SC Lite who got curb stomped by Mi$$ $t yesterday at home.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Game Preview: (7) Alabama at (17) Missouri

  I’d like to begin by apologizing for not providing a preview for the last game. My mother was having a rather important surgery. For those interested- I do provide a tweet summarizing my thoughts on the upcoming game when I know I’ll miss a preview. If you wish to follow me for that and other Bama Hoops news, my Twitter handle is @Tim_bamahoops.com. Now on to the game!

 The clear cut heavyweights of the SEC will meet tomorrow with massive conference ramifications. Alabama travels to Missouri with a 4 game lead in the standings. A win would all but clinch the SEC regular season title for the Tide. Missouri needs the win in order to take a big chunk out of the gap. Tip is set for 11:00 CT Saturday on the worldwide leader. 

 The Opponent: Cuanzo Martin’s squad is coming in to the matchup with Alabama as winners of 4 of their last 5. That includes a 75-70 home win over Kentucky earlier this week. Missouri features 4 players that score in double figures and are led by Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith. Pinson is a legit NBA talent...more on him later. Missouri rebounds well as they have beaten opponents on the boards by about 3 RPG. The Tigers outscore opponents by 5 PPG and are 3rd in the league in scoring defense. 

Players to Watch: The aforementioned Xavier Pinson is the obvious choice here. Though G Dru Smith is an excellent leader and scorer, Pinson can be an X factor. Proven by the massive game he had against TCU in the SEC/ BIG12 Challenge. The kid is a legitimate NBA prospect and his stock can only rise as he develops a consistent 3. Petty and Herb will likely draw minutes guarding Pinson. He will eat at times but Bama simply can’t let him take over

 It was good to see the offense speed up again wasn’t it? Alabama is at its best when it holds opposing offenses to single shot possessions, rebounds and then gets into its rip and run game. Jaden Shackleford is a key factor in that. There may only be 2 or 3 teams in the nation that can outscore Alabama when Shack and Petty are scoring it. The Bama guards will need to beat their defenders and get into the paint to initiate the drive and kick game

My Thoughts: The Missouri offense is a potent one indeed, but the Tigers have only shot 30% from the arc in conference play. I believe the 3 will play a huge factor in this game. Alabama needs to defend the perimeter and keep Missouri at or below its conference average. Having said that, I don’t think the Tide will have such an easy time getting into the paint as it did against LSU. When they do, ball handlers HAVE TO see the kick out if the layup isn’t there. Decision making will need to be at its best. 

 Motivation certainly shouldn’t be an issue for Alabama tomorrow. I’m sure Coach Oats has reminded the team of the sluggish start it had just last weekend in its last 11:00 AM start. It won’t happen again. One also doesn’t have to be an analytics or math expert to know that a 4.5 or 5 game lead in the standings this late in the season likely means hanging a new banner. That’s exactly what you sign up to play for. Bama wins a back and forth affair. 

Prediction: Alabama 74, Missouri 71

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

10-0 in SEC. Bama bludgeons LSU again 78-60

Box Score

Let me start off by saying that OU loss might have been the best thing to happen to us this year as the previous few games we were not playing well, but still won. This is a good rebound from that close loss in Norman.

I want to highlight Juwan Gary off the bench with 12 points, 7 boards... and an energy that really helped push this game to blowout city in the 2nd half. 

Despite a bad day from beyond the arc (25%) our defense once against was stifling and LSU really had no answers in the 2nd half as we took it to the basket almost at will. BTW we were + 16 on the boards... 

Next up... at Mizzou and this might be our toughest conference road game of the season. Win that and we can start thinking about being undefeated in conference.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

10 game streak... OVER! Sooners bully on glass.. 66-61 loss

No box score as I am too lazy to link right now.

I guess we all should have seen this coming... this is 3 bad offensive games in a row and in this one our failure to rebound probably cost us the game.

Reese played well on defense, but IMO took WAAAAAY too many shots (led team in that). Being honest EVERYONE has a bad game except Ellis. Which is crazy as even with a lack of production from any of the starters we still almost won (and should have if we make just half of the bunnies missed inside).

Don't get down Bama fans... we are still on 🚀🚀🚀 to the 🌑 with 💎🙌

If you don't get the above references it is okay... it made me laugh and that is really all that matters :)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Game Preview: 8 Alabama at 24 Oklahoma

 In its last 2 games Alabama put in their worst efforts of the past month...yet the Tide is still undefeated in SEC play. A poor defensive effort against MSU followed by a poor offensive effort against Kentucky has had the good guys sweating at times, but the guys have found a way-as winning teams are supposed to do. Bama will now travel to Norman to kick off the SEC/BIG12 Challenge. Tip is set for 11:00 CT on ESPN. 

 The Opponent: Oklahoma comes in to this matchup on quite the hot streak that includes wins over West Virginia and Texas. They’ve done it behind a balanced effort on both sides of the court as well as some timely leadership. The Sooners are out scoring opponents by nearly 11 PPG while shooting a very efficient 75% from the charity stripe. Everything began to click for Oklahoma after Coach Lon Kruger made the switch to a 4 guard lineup by inserting Elijah Harkness. Three point efficiency increased on offense and the turnover ratio nearly doubled for the Sooners after the shake up. The only blemish in the armor seems to be some vulnerability to the dribble drive-which is good news for the Tide if it can protect the ball and finish at the rim or find the open kick out. A win for Oklahoma would make them the only team to win 3 straight top 10 meetings since the 2013-14 Michigan Wolverines. 

 Players to Watch : Oklahoma has plenty of players that are capable of scoring the ball in a myriad of ways. This is a high IQ club led by senior Austin Reaves. The 6’5 G averages about 16 PPG and 5 APG. He’s one of those players that seems to make the right decision almost every time he has the ball in his hands. 

 Everyone remembers what happened the last time Herb Jones played Oklahoma. One could argue that this was the day that Herb’s legacy began to take shape as he locked down Trae Young to help Alabama earn the W. Jones will come in to this matchup as a senior and a completely different offensive player than he was on that day. He leads Alabama in nearly every defensive category and is 3rd on the team in scoring. Most impressive is the fact that he leads Alabama in both FT % and 3 PT %. I won’t lie to you faithful readers...in years past I literally cringed when Herb would pull up for 3. When he went to the line I’d pray for 1/2. This development under Oats has been nothing short of remarkable. Alabama will need Herb-esque effort on D all the way around to come out of Norman with a win. 

My Thoughts : I predicted a loss to Kentucky Tuesday night. I knew Alabama was the better team but I was also convinced that Kentucky would simply be desperate. They’d get the foul calls and Bama would be cold from the field . All of which happened and yet there was one facet of the game I ignorantly ignored. Alabama just wants it more. The DNA has mutated within this program. Oklahoma’s experience at the Guard position scares me. The Tide probably loses if it’s as cold from the perimeter as it was against Kentucky. But Bama loves to play on the road. The chip on the shoulder will still be there. I expect a solid shooting performance to be just enough for the streak to continue...and talk of a potential 1 seed to commence

Prediction: Alabama 84 Oklahoma 76

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Even a bad game is still too much for the Wildcats- Bama sweeps Calipari

Box score

We got bad Petty, crappy 3 pt shooting, missed a half dozen bunnies, AND STILL WON BY DOUBLE DIGITS!

Defensively we put on a clinic IMO... Kentucky never could get any sort of flow or rhythm out there.
Herb with a great game... dabbling with a triple double (11/8/7), Shack getting the ball to the rim late, and BTW... FREE THROW SHOOTING WAS AWESOME!

That is 2 bad offensive games in a row and we are still UNDEFEATED in conference play.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Game Preview: (10) Alabama vs Kentucky

  Alabama survived a bit of a scare from Mississippi State who brought it’s best effort Saturday evening. We all expected it to be a trap game and for State to bring it-but as Bobby stated in our recap...their best wasn’t enough. The Tide will next welcome Kentucky into Coleman Coliseum for a rematch of the manhandling Alabama handed the Cats in Rupp. Tip is set for 6:00 Tuesday night on ESPN2. 

The Opponent: Up until this past weekend, Kentucky just hasn’t been a good team offensively. They’ve exhibited very little threat from the perimeter and haven’t yet developed a go to guy when a bucket is needed. Enter the abysmal LSU defense to provide a remedy and allow for Kentucky to find some offensive rhythm just in time for the trip to Coleman. Freshman Brandon Boston came out of his shell a bit to rack up 18 points against LSU. Calipari has stressed the importance of rebounding and limiting teams like LSU and Alabama to single opportunities on offense. Freshman and former Bama recruit Isaiah Jackson responded like a champion with 15 rebounds Saturday. Rest assured that Cal and the Cats will be set on that same mentality. Defense and rebounding will be the focus for Kentucky as they simply can’t outscore Alabama unless it has a very off night...or the Coleman officiating plague creates extra opportunities for Kentucky  at the stripe. 

Players to Watch:  The 2 Cats mentioned above will be key to Kentucky having success against Alabama, as will Olivier Sarr. It’s freshman PG Devin Askew that I’ll have my eyes on, however. Calipari has stated that he will put a minutes cap on the talented freshman whom has seemed to struggle a bit once he reaches the 20 minute mark. Askew is a talented scorer and I expect he and Boston to try to go right at the Tide defenders in order to possibly create some foul trouble for an already thin Bama frontcourt. 

 Alabama will need contributions from the usual suspects but this will be a leadership and effort game. John Petty and Herb Jones will need to stress to their younger teammates just how important effort and energy are here. Having said that, Jaden Shackleford has been somewhat quiet of late despite having made some clutch shots. I expect him to be back to his hot handed ways Tuesday. 

 My Thoughts: It’s very hard to beat a good team twice. Kentucky will be the first team to get a crack at Alabama after having a chance to see themselves on film against them and make adjustments to counteract the things the Tide does so well. It’ll be up to Alabama to respond to those adjustments the best way possible-energy and effort. If Alabama does manage to come out and control this game then it’ll be official...the DNA has changed permanently. Alabama is much better and more experienced than Kentucky but the streak can’t last forever can it? I just have an awful feeling that we get an anomaly Tuesday night. Kentucky will shoot way over their heads and get as many trips to the stripe as they want. They’ll be desperate and playing to win whereas Alabama could find itself in a mindset of playing not to lose. KenPom only gives Kentucky a 19% chance to win. All of this gives me an eerie feeling. Let’s get it out of the way and regroup in time to face what will likely be a ranked Oklahoma team.  We’re a better road team anyway.

Prediction: Kentucky 74, Alabama 73

$tate's best was not enough- Bama 81-73

Box Score

As commenters said in Double Ts preview, this was a great win considering $tate played well, we were not on fire, and still won comfortably. While it has been fun beating the tar out of the previous 7 opponents (ok, Auburn was a close one) havig these type of grind it out games is good preparation for the tournament.

Five guys with double digit scoring, Herb and Jaden being the stars of the game, again with the GREAT 2nd half defense (35.5% for $tate), and overall a game we won without too much sweating. We all know in years past this is one we would have lost.

The fun is in the winning... and MAN ARE WE HAVING FUN! I hope the NCAAT in Indy allows for fans, but I have read more than likely it will be kept to friends and family. Bummer as if this team advances to a Final Four I might have to fake being a long lost 3rd cousin of Pettway (or something) to get in.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Game Preview: (16) Alabama vs Mississippi State

  Alabama heads back home having completely dismantled #22 LSU and reached its highest point in the NET so far at 10. The program is getting consistent national recognition now and deservedly so. Can the Tide stay level headed, ignore the rat poison and maintain its level of play? We’ll find out when Alabama faces Mississippi State Saturday at 5:00 CT. 

The Opponent : Mississippi State will come into Saturday’s matchup licking its wounds after failing to reach 50 points in a loss to in state rival Ole Miss. Head coach Ben Howland and G DJ Stewart offered a troubling admission after the loss stating Ole Miss simply out-hustled the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl of basketball. That’s not a statement that MSU fans ever want to hear...especially when the most rippin’ and runnin’ team in the SEC is the next opponent. 

 State is 9-6 overall and 4-3 in conference. They’ve been a bit of an enigma of late after beating Florida only to put up a root canal of a performance against Ole Miss. My guess is that the Tide will see the Bulldogs’ best effort Saturday as they seem to play up to the level of competition. 

Players to Watch: Mississippi State features an extremely talented backcourt that includes the man that leads them in practically every category with the exception of rebounding- Iverson Molinar. Molinar averages 17 PPG and 3 APG for Ben Howland. He won’t leave the court much, if any Saturday. It’s DJ Stewart that impresses me the most, however. Briefly recruited by Bama, Stewart chose the Bulldogs and has been playing well this season. He also averages 17 PPG and has a high basketball IQ. John Petty will likely draw the assignment of keeping the talented redshirt sophomore in check.

 It’s hard to identify a single player to watch for Alabama as it has truly been a case of everyone in crimson and white contributing to this recent scorching run for the Tide. There may be one player in the country that can guard John Petty when he’s playing this well. The problem for opposing teams is that said player wears #1 for Alabama and is named Herb Jones. Petty, Primo, Herb, Shackleford and Quinerly are all capable of going off on any given night. Having said that...I’m choosing Alex Reese. The 6’9 senior has accepted his role off the bench and has made the most of his opportunities of late. .I think he has a big day Saturday. 

My Thoughts: This is the perfect recipe for a letdown game. Alabama is coming off of its best performance of the season and Mississippi State its worst. Coach Ben Howland has certainly let his players know that their collective effort against Ole Miss can’t be repeated. If it is...they could lose by 40 or more. Mississippi State will bring it’s best effort in the first half , but Alabama is playing too well right now and is simply the better, deeper team. The streak continues.

Prediction: Alabama 79, Mississippi State 66

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

TOTAL ANNIHILATION! Beatdown in Baton Rouge... Bama 105-75

Box score

Negatives- we got loose with the ball the final 8 minutes and allowed LSU to trim the lead to 28 near the end.

Outside of that... that first half was THE BEST first half of hoops I ever watched as a Bama fan. I am dating myself back to 1989. Right out of the gate we hit our first 6 3s and the game was over. Literally we were up double digits 3 minutes in and never looked back.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Game Preview: (18) Alabama at LSU

  What’s normally a clash for the SEC West in football turns out to be a battle for top dog in SEC hoops as Alabama travels to Baton Rouge on a mission to extend its win streak and retain the conference lead. Tip is set for 8:00 on ESPN. 

The Opponent: LSU comes in to this contest at 10-2 overall and playing very well themselves. The Bayou Bengals also like to play with tempo so I don’t expect them to be shy about running with the Tide. LSU can score with anyone as they average 86 PPG. Good for 10th overall in the country. They do it efficiently also, with 51% FG conversion rate. That’s 29th best in the country. These guys can play. As they should considering the odd number of 5 stars and sons of NBA legends that seem to be so interested in playing for a middle tier SEC basketball school. Curious indeed

 Players to Watch: Everyone in Alabama will obviously be paying close attention to Benedict...ummm...Trendon Watford and rightfully so. Watford is averaging 18 PPG and 7 RPG. He has an NBA future and is playing well for Will Wade. However, it’s PG JaVonta Smart that makes LSU go in my opinion. He leads the Tigers in 3Pt FG made per game and APG (4) as well. He’s one of those players that has a knack for making the right play when it matters.

 Alabama will have to slow down one of those 2. Petty and Herb will likely draw those 2 the most tonight . Both will need to be at the top of their defensive games and continue to contribute on the offensive end to boot. Not an easy task, but Herb and Petty have shown remarkable leadership of late. While LSU has the talent and depth to score with anyone, the egos tend to show up the most on the defensive end. 

My Thoughts: The Tigers don’t communicate well on D and seem content with that with the way they score. They haven’t yet faced on offense like Alabama though. If the shots are falling and Petty is hot, Alabama could flirt with 90 again. KenPom predicts a one point loss for Alabama tonight and Vegas has the Tide as a 1 point favorite. This is a game that could come down to late mistakes and/ or FTs. I’m gonna take Alabama to pull this one out with its relentless defense. Clutch FTs from Quinerly and Shack seal the W as the insufferable Will Wade fouls to the very last second. 

 Prediction: Alabama 84, LSU 78

Tide ranked 18th in AP, 16th in Coaches poll

Rankings

I don't think we have been ranked this high in either poll in about 13 years. Win @ LSU and this might turn into a magical season as IMO this first stretch of 8 SEC games was what I thought would be the toughest part.

Lunardi has us as 3 seed now in his Bracketology. Assuming we don't do a February failure (which sadly we have done pretty much the last 5 years) this might be the first time in a long while since we were not sweating the bubble.