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.

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.