Alabama Begins Two-Game Homestand With Texas A&M Saturday

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs recorded career highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win at Mississippi State.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs recorded career highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win at Mississippi State.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Jan. 18, 2013

ALABAMA GAME NOTES | TEXAS A&M GAME NOTES

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will begin a two-game homestand on Saturday when it welcomes Texas A&M to Coleman Coliseum. The contest is set to tipoff at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

“We’re excited about the chance to get back on the court,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “We’re playing a very talented team in Texas A&M. This will be our first time competing against them being new to the league. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen on film. [They’re] very talented, very solid team offensively and defensively, so we have to get ready for a very exciting game. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Saturday’s game will have a little extra special meaning as it will mark the 2,500th game in program history. The Crimson Tide has an all-time record of 1555-943-1 (.622) as it celebrates 100 years of basketball during the 2012-13 campaign.

The Crimson Tide (10-6, 2-1 SEC) enters the game having won two straight and four of its last five following an impressive 75-43 victory at Mississippi State last Wednesday night. Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs recorded the team’s first double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, while sophomore guard Levi Randolph matched his career high with 18 points to go along with a season-best eight rebounds in the win. Sophomore guards Rodney Cooper (17 points) and Trevor Lacey (11 points) also reached double figures in the victory.

Junior guard Trevor Releford, the team’s top scorer, missed the game against Mississippi State due to an ankle injury he suffered during last Monday’s practice. Grant was unsure if Releford will be ready to go by Saturday’s match-up.

“Right now, it’s going to basically come down to his pain tolerance,” Grant said. “Obviously, he still has some stiffness and soreness. I want to see him (Friday), see what he’s able to do in terms of mobility. Like we said before, the ultimate goal is to make sure that he’s healthy and that we don’t do something to jeopardize his health. We’ll evaluate it today in practice, but we’re hopeful that if everything goes well today then he will be available.”

A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford tops the team and ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 16.3 ppg. In addition, the Kansas City, Mo., native is tied for first in the league in free throw percentage (.853), fourth in field goal percentage (.483) and eighth in steals (1.8 spg).

Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game and leads the squad in three-point field goal percentage (43.8), three pointers made (31) and attempted (71) and assists (3.5 apg). Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contributes 28.7 points per game, or approximately 43 percent of the team’s 65.9 points per game.

Meanwhile, Cooper also averages double figures with 12.1  ppg and leads the team in rebounding (4.4 rpg) and total field goals attempted (164).

Texas A&M comes into Saturday’s game with a 12-4 record on the year and a 2-1 mark in league play. Most recently, the Aggies had a four-game win streak snapped when they fell at home, 68-47, to No. 10/9 Florida on Thursday night.

Texas A&M is led by senior guard Elston Turner, who averages 16.3 ppg this season. Turner scored a career-high 40 points at Kentucky on Jan. 12. His 19.7 ppg in league play ranks third in the SEC. For the year, Turner leads the conference in three-point shooting, knocking down 42.4 percent (42-of-99) of his shots from beyond the arc. He also ranks second in the SEC in threes made per game (2.6), sixth in points and seventh in field goal percentage (45.1 percent).

Senior forward Ray Turner is the only other player to average double figures with 11.2 points per contest, and leads A&M with 6.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Fabyon Harris is third on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and leads the team in three-point shooting at 43.5 percent (20-of-46).

As a team, Texas A&M leads the Southeastern Conference in three-point field goal percentage (38.5 percent), but ranks 12th in three-pointers made per game (5.3). The Aggies are also third in the league in scoring defense (59.9) and rebounding defense (31.3).

The contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can also follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.

ALABAMA HEAD COACH ANTHONY GRANT                                                                                         

On Texas A&M:

“Our mentality has to be that we need to do a great job on the defensive end. They have a lot of weapons at A&M and we have to do a great job defensively. Elston Turner has a tremendous ability to score the basketball. Everyone is aware of how he exploded against Kentucky for 40 points, but he’s a scorer. He scores in a variety of ways and his team does a great job of understanding how take advantage of what he does. He’s got a very good group of players around him. Ray Turner, inside, is a 6-9, 240 pound center. He can score the basketball. He’s got good guards that have good speed and quickness. The system that they run, they throw a lot of things at you.”

On improvement in three-point shooting:

I think we were a young team on the perimeter last year. I think we have players that are comfortable in what they can and are able to do. My whole thing is take good shots and I think our guys are doing that. We’re fortunate that our percentages have improved, but we’re going to continue to do the same thing in terms of making sure that we’re taking high percentage shots and doing what gives us the best chance to win.”

On Trevor Releford playing against A&M:

“We hope so. We didn’t do much yesterday. We got some shots up and he was able to go through that. Right now, it’s going to basically come down to his pain tolerance. Obviously, he still has some stiffness and soreness. I want to see him today, see what he’s able to do in terms of mobility. Like we said before, the ultimate goal is to make sure that he’s healthy and that we don’t do something to jeopardize his health. We’ll evaluate it today in practice, but we’re hopeful that if everything goes well today then he will be available.”

Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey

On improvement in three-point shooting this year:

“It’s something, this year, that we have taken pride in as a team. We’ve put in extra work before and after practice with shooting. We knew last year, teams played zone and backed off of us, daring us to shoot. This year, we took it personally to step up and make shots.”

On if it felt different with Trevor Releford out against Mississippi State:

“It was a little different, but going into the game we knew that he may not play so everyone was willing to do something extra to get the win. We played earlier without him and Andrew Steele and it takes guys coming together and do little things to piece it all together.”