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.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Petty all-time 3pt leader. Tide trashes Hogs 90-59

Box score

The only negative I can come up with is we played a little loose with the basketball the final 10 minutes. I had to stretch to find something to criticize.

Solid defensive effort, great 3 ball shooting, continued success getting it to the rim... this team is all of a sudden a scary match up for many teams in the country.

Last I checked we were a 5 seed in Bracketology. I expect top 4 come Monday.

Go ahead and book those tickets to Indy...

Friday, January 15, 2021

Game Preview: Alabama vs Arkansas

  Alabama will meet the Arkansas Razorbacks having come off of two straight road wins at Auburn and Kentucky. The win streak is at 6 overall and the Tide finds itself alone at the top of the SEC standings. Tip is set for tomorrow at 2:30 CT. 

The Opponent:  Arkansas comes into the contest with the same record as Alabama at 10-3. The Hogs were undefeated in preseason play but their non-conference schedule was lackluster at best. Things have been very different for Arkansas during SEC play as the team stands at 2-3 coming off a dismantling at the hands of LSU. A loss that Coach Oats laments as he expects Arkansas to lock back in after the loss. Eric Musselman’s squad is expected to be without the services of Justin Smith. Smith leads the team in rebounds at 7 per game. Alabama could have a chance to steal a few extra second chance points if it continues to bring the energy on the boards.  Arkansas averages 87 PPG while only allowing 69

 Players to Watch: In regards to Arkansas, it’s hard to ignore the literal elephant in the room-Conor Vanover. At 7’3 Vanover is just as much a shooting threat as he is in the interior. It’s Moses Moody that leads the Hogs in scoring at 18 PPG and he can score in bursts

 With the absence of Jordan Bruner, Alabama will be depending on Alex Reese and James Rojas to continue their solid play while getting some extra minutes. Either of the 2 could find themselves on Vanover so both will also need to defend without fouling. 

My Thoughts: While Arkansas will be missing Smith, Alabama could be without more than just Bruner. Coach Oats has stated that both Jahvon Quinerly and Herb Jones can play in an “as needed” role. My feeling is that both will be needed-especially if the game is close in the closing minutes. I disagree with Coach Oats in his opinion of catching Arkansas at the wrong time. Something is not clicking right now and the absence of Smith doesn’t help the Hogs. John Petty and Jaden Shackleford are getting locked in. I think it continues tomorrow

Prediction: Alabama 79 Arkansas 70

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Bruner, Herb, Quinerly Injury Update

  The Tide completely obliterated Kentucky Tuesday night at Rupp ( did I really just type that?) by a score of 85-65. Check out DJC’s recap if you haven’t yet. Alabama’s first victory at Rupp since 06 didn’t come without a price, however. The team lost it’s hard hat leader Herb Jones about halfway through the first half and later lost Jordan Bruner to a knee issue in the second half. 

 All is not lost, however. In a press release Wednesday afternoon Coach Oats updated Jones’ injury as a dislocated finger. Jones is listed as day to day and there is hope that he could play Saturday vs Arkansas. Herb has been playing lights out on both sides of the ball this season and Bama fans will be thankful that his injury isn’t more severe. 

 Bruner’s situation is a bit more dire, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel. The Tide’s leader in blocks (20) and steals (16) suffered a torn meniscus and had an operation Wednesday that is likely to keep him out for a month or so.That’s not the end of the world considering Bruner will likely be back before the end of the regular season. 

 Alabama’s only true PG Jahvon Quinerly has missed the last 3 games due to an unspecified medical condition. He’s listed as day to day as well but Coach Oats sounds as though he expects Quinerly to play this weekend. Jones, Primo, Shackleford and Petty have performed admirably on the ball in Quinerly’s absence but he’s a vital member of the backcourt and the Tide will need his contributions in order to maintain its current level of play...and FIRST PLACE IN THE SEC.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

5-0... Tide trounces Wildcats 85-65

Box score

A dominating performance in which we never trailed. Put this up for comments... which should be all positive on the court.

Probably add more thought later.

More thoughts:
- 3 pt shooting was ON
- I lost count of how many times we penetrated to the rim for an easy layup
- Defense kept the Wildcats at bay. Very few uncontested shots
- Only 11 TOs... and most of those were when the game was already decided


Injuries to Herb and Bruner are troubling... 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Alabama ranked for the 1st time during conference play in a long, long time

Rankings

Note- we have been ranked a few times in the first half of the season (Dec 2011, Nov 2017), but other than that we have been MIA from the top 25... until this week.

Last time we were ranked during SEC play was the week of Feb 19, 2007... so unless I am missing something that is almost 14 years since we were part of the top 25 in the second half of the season.

At Kentucky this week is going to be a slugfest as the Wildcats seem to have come together as a team. Did I mention this game is for solo possession of 1st place? WOW!

Got to give credit to Nate Oats... in year 2 we are ahead of schedule. Let's hope what we have seen the past 3 weeks is indicative of the rest of the season.




Saturday, January 09, 2021

Bama burns the barn... 94-90 for 4-0 start

Box score

A win is a win... especially a road one at the Barn. 

Bruner and Herb played great with 20 and 19 points each (Primo had 22, but waaaay too many bad non-threes for my liking). I say both of them set the pace for the game.

Shack and Primo did not shoot the ball well, but contributed in other ways (driving to the basket, opening up the outside, rebounding) to guide this team to victory even with BAD Petty showing up today (we usually lose when that version shows up)

IMO too many 3s were taken today, but LET'S GIVE A SHOUTOUT FOR OUTSTANDING FT SHOOTING!

Defensively... you normally can't say GREAT D when you surrender 90 points, but we did hold them to under 30% from beyond the arc.

4-0 in the SEC... right now we are in the play-in game according to Lunardi (and others) and as the Jeffersons said in their theme song... WE'RE A MOVIN' ON UP!

This song may be relevant right now... for NCAA hopes:


Friday, January 08, 2021

Game Preview: Alabama at Auburn

  The Crimson Tide travel to Lee County on an impressive 4 game winning streak that includes the highest rated win according to KenPom (at Tennessee). Tip is set for 11:00 Saturday on ESPN. 

 The Opponent: The hated Tigers come into this Iron Bowl of Hoops heavily relying on freshman as they provide nearly half of Auburn’s offense. One of those players DNP in Auburn’s last contest-a loss at Ole Miss. It seems that Powell will be good to go for tomorrow’s contest, however. Bruce Pearl and staff are well aware that Alabama has been playing well. His club will need to bring a level of intensity on the defensive end that it frankly hasn’t shown outside of the outstanding effort against Troy. Look for Pearl to instill more zone as Alabama has simply been unstoppable when it’s been able to create one on one matchups while driving. Auburn will likely try to force the Tide to shoot over the zone quite a bit. Expect more of the same from Auburn offensively as they lead the SEC in 3s made per game at about 10.5.

 Players to watch: Auburn’s Allen Flanigan has been incredibly impressive in my opinion. The Little Rock product is connecting at nearly 40% from 3 and is likely the Tiger’s best defender

 The Tide will once again be without Jahvon Quinerly so it will again be PG by committee between Jones, Ellis, Petty and Primo. All four were able to  drive the ball at will against both Tennessee and Florida. As I mentioned earlier, I expect Auburn to incorporate some zone and press to potentially add some pressure to the decision making of ball handlers. Herbert Jones will be tasked with defending without fouling on defense as well as protecting the ball on offense. The Tide has assisted on 46% of its FGs during this 4 game win streak

My Thoughts: Auburn is winless in SEC play and Alabama sits alone at the top of the standings. Expect a very motivated home team tomorrow. Having said that-Alabama is simply the better team and SHOULD win the game. Auburn is always capable of getting hot from behind the arc and beating anyone, however. I believe these Bama players truly want to beat Auburn on the road-a task it hasn’t accomplished in over 5 years. Bama is playing too well right now and I look for the solid play to continue. Tide tames “The Jungle.” 

Prediction: Alabama 86, Auburn 76

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Who is this team? Bama beats down Gators 86-71

Box score

I did a lot more watching and less notetaking so here is what I thought were the keys to victory:

- Shack and Herb getting to the basket almost at will (marked change from my complaints 3 weeks ago)
- Only 20 3s taken (and made 8)
- DEFENSE! 40% Opposing FG, 6 blocks, 10 steals

The 2nd half was a beatdown... Gators at no point threatened us after the 15 minute mark. We probably could have won by 25, but who cares... WE WON!

I don't think even the most RAH RAH Bama fan could have predicted a 3-0 start to the conference schedule with the caliber of teams we have played. I said we'd be lucky to go 2-4 in our first 6... as the kids say... totes wrong (or something like that).

RIGHT NOW, we are a scary matchup for EVERY SEC team. Smothering D, shooting the ball better, driving to the basket... credit Coach Oats for whatever adjustments were made after the WKU game. This is not remotely the same team.

I'll take some credit as well as I pointed out we needed to shoot fewer 3s and get the ball to the basket more... :)

Next up, @ Auburn... where all of a sudden this is a 50/50 game.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Defense too much for Vols... Bama bashes Barnes 71-63

Easily our best defensive effort of the season... and a road win at a top 10 (#8) team. Very proud of the effort.

Box score

Let's start off with the bad... our FT shooting kept us from being a blowout. 9-17 from the charity stripe is rec league bad.

Got that out of the way... now all the goodness:

- We drove the ball AT WILL vs the Viles. Consistently beating the man off the dribble and getting good inside looks which...
- Opened up the 3 ball in the 2nd half. We hit 5 in a row and after that the game was never really in question. UTK might have gotten within 6 once after we expanded the lead to 12. 2/9 1st half, 8/11 2nd.
- Quinerly might have missed a bunch of shots (5-14), but his dribble drive allowed for us to get rebounds which turned into points.
- Tonight we got GOOD Petty. Only missed one shot, played good D, and led the way with 17 pts. Him and Primo accounted for 7 of the 10 made 3s.

Great effort, great win... let's hope the last 2 games is what this team is over what we saw in the WKU and Furman games.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Quinerly unstoppable... Bama blows out Black Bears 82-64

Box score

Last night defense was the key... Ole Miss hit 1 three (out of 13) and overall hit just over a third of their total shots. Never gonna win shooting like that. We did not fare much better (43/32%), but in comparison we were Steph Curry.

What impressed me the most last night was Q getting to the basket. I believe that opened up a lot of our offense. Despite a not so good shooting night, the defense kept us comfortably ahead throughout the 2nd half. Ole Miss I don't believe ever made a serious run at us (getting within 2 scores).

This is the type of game we need to play more of (minus the overabundance of bad three ball shooting) if we are to be a serious contender in the SEC. Time will tell if this game was an abomination or what we should expect going forward.

We have a really tough next 6 games coming up. Going 2-4 in those IMO would be a victory.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Predicting the SEC schedule

This team can go anywhere from 12-6 to 6-12.. so I'm going to predict 9-9 based on what I have seen so far this year.
The Oklahoma game sandwiched in between... also a L.
Would need some sort of run in the SECT (assuming that goes as planned) to make the NCAAT.
Dec 29 Ole Miss- W
Jan 2 @Tennessee- L
Jan 5 Florida- L
Jan 9 @Auburn- L
Jan 12 @Kentucky- L
Jan 16 Arkansas- L
Jan 19 @LSU- W
Jan 23 Mississippi State- W
Jan 26 Kentucky- W
Feb 3 LSU- W
Feb 6 @Missouri- L
Feb 9 @South Carolina- W
Feb 13 Georgia- W
Feb 17 @Texas A&M- L
Feb 20 Vanderbilt- W
Feb 24 @Arkansas- L
Feb 27 @Mississippi State- L
Mar 2 Auburn- W

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Game Preview: Alabama vs ETSU

  The sun did actually rise after the gut-wrenching loss to WKU . I won’t go into everything that went wrong in that game, but I do invite you to take a look at Bobby’s recap...if your stomach can bare it. Alabama will have to process and overcome, however as it welcomes Jason Shay’s ETSU team in tonight at 6:30. SEC+ will provide the coverage with Trevor Releford on the call. 

The Opponent : ETSU had a brutal start to it’s 20-21 campaign but have since won 3 of it’s last 4 with the help of a new defensive identity. That’s quite the departure from last season’s 30-4 team that put up some truly gaudy numbers at times for a SoCon team. Coach Shay is currently in the middle of a rebuilding project of sorts as ETSU lost over 90% of it’s scoring from last season and then some. I’m not saying there isn’t talent on this roster...but Alabama absolutely has to take care of business tonight. Pure and simple.

Players to Watch : As tempted as I am to place eyes on the entire offense due to the the Tide shooting a paltry 40% from the field and a disgusting 29% from 3...I won’t. We’ve seen some positive play from the likes of Herbert Jones, Jahvon Quinerly and Josh Primo but Alabama simply hasn’t put together a solid offensive effort. A long look in the mirror is required to determine whether Bama wants to continue to live and (mostly) die by the 3 or maybe try a different approach. Most will disagree with me here, but I think the team has to keep shooting. It starts with John Petty. He has essentially been non-existent in the first half of games. That has to stop. Especially against teams that Alabama should handle at home. To his credit, John continues to bring it on D and the boards every night whether he’s shooting well or not. He simply needs to find some confidence with the shooting stroke. When that happens, I think Alabama will finally reach its full offensive potential. As great as he’s been, Alabama can’t be great with Jones being its “go to guy.”Like it or not, I don’t think this can team can be great without the 3. I ALSO CAN NOT BELIEVE IM SAYING THIS ABOUT A ROSTER THAT CARRIES FOUR POTENTIAL NBA PLAYERS. 

 Thankfully, ETSU isn’t strong at all in the frontcourt but they do have some talented guards. Ledarrius Brewer leads the team with 15 PPG and David Sloan adds 9 PPG while bringing good vision to the court. Alabama will have to close out on the perimeter and block out as the ETSU guards follow their shots well. 

My Thoughts: I don’t think there is much need in adding much else to what is written above. The offensive production we’ve seen thus far from Alabama is unacceptable...and the coaches and players would be the first to tell you the same. Alabama has one last non-conference opportunity to iron out the kinks and find some confidence before conference play. On a roster loaded with NBA level talent, struggling with mid-majors at home simply can’t continue. Maybe tonight is the night that the lid comes off the rim and JP and Shack light up the scoring column. 

Prediction: Alabama 85, ETSU 68

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Toppers top Tide 73-71... and it's time to panic

Box score

I am not going to get into what I think is wrong with the team as that might become a manifesto so I'll point out some stats that make you scratch your head:

WKU- 3/11 from 3, 17 TOs, +3 rebounds

Above sounds like we should have won comfortably except...

Bama- 7/26 from 3, 19 TOs, 22/56 FG

For the season here is a sample of why I scratch my head at our approach to the game:

3PT FG- 61/208
FG- 181/445

Take those #s... and subtract our 3PT shooting and you're at 50%
Oats is supposedly an analytics guy so looking at that you would think shooting FEWER 3s might be something to look at.

This team dies by the 3... not lives and dies, but DIES by the 3.
If I told you only Herbert Jones and Joshua Primo shoots better than 33% from beyond the arc does that make you rethink the fascination of shooting 3s altogether?

Next up... the fighting Kenny Chesneys of East Tennessee State 12/22 @ 6:30PM CST

Friday, December 18, 2020

Game Preview: Alabama vs Western Kentucky

  Ugh...Rick Stansbury is coming back to Tuscaloosa. He’ll be bringing a talented team into Coleman tomorrow. Tip is set for 1:00 CT on ESPNU. 

 The Opponent : Western Kentucky comes into this matchup with a 5-2 record but they already have a couple of quality wins on the docket over Northern Iowa and Memphis. The aforementioned Rick Stansbury has “recruited “ well for the Hilltoppers and even managed to land the nation’s top recruit in 2018. More on him later. More importantly, his team plays hard for him more often than not. WKU comes into the matchup as #80 in KenPom. This will be yet another quality mid-major opponent for Alabama. 

 The Hilltoppers are strong in the paint and they rebound well. Having said that, it’s perplexing as to why they attempt so many threes. As a team, WKU barely scratches the 30% mark from behind the arc. Falling in love with the 3 has been WKU’s downfall in their losses. Let’s hope that trend continues. 

Players to watch: For WKU, there is no doubt about who the focus will be on. 6’10 C Charles Bassey has been a walking double double for Rick Stansbury and The Tide has had trouble defending the post at times. If Jordan Bruner were to end up in foul trouble, Bassey could feast tomorrow. On the other hand, Bruner could make Bassey chase him on the perimeter some and maybe keep Bassey winded while perhaps drawing some fouls on him to limit his minutes. 

 For the Tide, one could look towards numerous players that helped the team squeak out a close W over Furman. Juwan Gary played some big minutes and even reached double figures in the scoring column. Herbert Jones has straight up developed into a pro and the team doesn’t win without the heroic efforts of James Rojas (combined with Mouncy fouling out). I’m gonna go with Jahvon Quinerly though. The Jersey native probably had his worst game of the season Tuesday night with Herbert Jones taking the majority of minutes at the point.  Even to the point of having been called out to the media by the new mouth of the south-Nate Oats. I’m interested to see how JQ responds to the public criticism. The young man is no stranger to adversity and I expect Jahvon to have a big game if Bassey gets in some foul trouble and the driving lanes open up some. 

 My thoughts : Coach Oats stated in his press conference that he expected the Clemson game would be a wake up call for the team in terms of effort and energy, but it didn’t work out that way. His hope was that the first half of the Furman game was finally what was needed to drive the message home. I agree with Oats this time. I expect a complete performance from Alabama this weekend. I expect the Tide to have several runs that will be fueled by the 3. The pressure will then be placed on WKU to attempt to match Bama’s fast paced style...and that will be their downfall. 

Prediction: Alabama 75, Western Kentucky 59

Monday, December 14, 2020

Game Preview: Alabama vs Furman

  Before we get started with this upcoming game I’d like to share that the other upcoming matchup with #6 Houston has been canceled. Alabama and Western Kentucky have come to an agreement to play instead. Tip for that one is set for 1:00 Saturday. 

 As expected, Alabama ran into a defensive buzzsaw against Clemson Saturday. The Tide couldn’t shoot well enough to win and it also failed to match Clemson’s effort in the first half. Most disappointing was how the team fought to take a late lead only to follow the all too familiar script of falling apart late in big games. The task doesn’t get much easier as the Paladins of Furman will come into Tuscaloosa Tuesday  playing well. Tip is set for 8:00 on SEC Network. 

The Opponent : Furman comes into the 20-21 season as the consensus preseason pick to win the SoCon and they’ve fit the Bill so far. The team returns 4 starters and 3 of them were selected for preseason all conference honors. Furman is 5-1 and are outscoring opponents by nearly 25 PPG so far. They’re shooting an impressive 50% from the field at this point in the season. Alabama will need to lower that number in tomorrow night’s matchup and then rebound the misses. Simple, right?

Players to Watch: Furman returns 4 of 5 starters (as previously mentioned) from last year’s team that finished 25-7. F Jalen Slawson is an athletic big that is averaging about 11 PPG and 6 RPG. He shoots a high percentage so Jordan Bruner and Alex Reese will once again be tasked with defending a talented post player. The motor for the Paladins has to be Mike Bothwell, however. Bothwell leads Furman with 18 PPG, 4 APG and 2 SPG. Slowing Bothwell down will go a long way in helping Alabama earn a home W. 

 For Bama the choice has to be Jaden Shackleford. I can’t remember seeing the stoic sophomore being more frustrated than he was against Clemson. Shackleford was particularly disappointing in the final 5 minutes of the game when he missed some crucial shots that would’ve extended the Alabama lead or kept the game  closer. Nobody on the team works harder than Shack, however. I expect a big night from the California kid tomorrow. 

 My Thoughts : This is NOT going to be easy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the betting line of this game set within a single possession. Effort and energy have to be at a maximum early and often. The Tide will need to find the 3 point stroke again and I think it will. It won’t be fun. It’ll probably be a nail biter...but I think home court pulls Bama through...barely. 

Prediction : Alabama 82, Furman 77

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Game Preview: Alabama vs Clemson

 It’s been a while since the last time we saw the Crimson Tide on the hardwood. A tough task will welcome the team back in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event as a very good Clemson team rolls into Atlanta on a hot streak. Tip is set for 7:00 on CTSN radio.

The Opponent: Clemson comes in to this matchup as KenPom’s 6th ranked defensive team and the film confirms that ranking. The Tigers will apply relentless ball pressure at times. They’ll also do the same off the ball which disrupts screening and cutting. Driving lanes will be few and far between for Bama as Clemson will pack the paint as one of the best “helping” teams that I’ve seen so far. This should create some opportunities for Alabama to knock down some kick out 3’s and perhaps loosen the Clemson D, however. Having said that, if The Tide doesn’t shoot well from behind the arc...it could be a Stanford-esque evening. 

   Players to Watch: Clemson comes into this game with one of the more underrated big men that I’ve seen so far in this early season. As a true stretch 5, Aamir Sims fills up the stat sheet in every imaginable way. He’s shooting 40% from 3 and is particularly problematic as a screener as he is athletic enough to roll to the basket and finish with authority and also perfectly capable of popping out and knocking down the jumper. 

 The task of defending Sims will fall upon Jordan Bruner for Alabama so he will have to defend well without putting himself into foul trouble. Alabama will also need similar offensive production from Bruner as Clemson will expect from Sims. If Bruner can rebound, finish easy opportunities in the paint and maybe  step out and knock down a 3 or two, he could loosen up that Clemson defense and allow some driving lanes for the Bama guards. If Bruner does find himself in foul trouble, the task will fall to Alex Reese who played himself a great game against Providence and was perhaps Alabama’s best defender in the paint. 

 My thoughts : Having had a week off, I’m afraid Alabama will take some time getting back into rhythm. Clemson is one of the best teams I’ve seen so far this season and they come in with momentum. Hopefully the Tide comes out hot from 3 and puts some pressure on Clemson early. Quinerly and Bruner have to stay out of foul trouble as Bama is a little thin at the 1 and the 5. Clemson knows this. Bama will keep it close, but Clemson is playing well right now. Coach Oats may have to prepare himself for questions about two non-conference losses from those that wish to give him some grief about his Coach K comments earlier in the week. 

Prediction : Clemson 76, Alabama 71