Alabama Set To Take On Kentucky On Tuesday Night
Jan. 21, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will close its two-game homestand on Tuesday night when it welcomes Kentucky to Coleman Coliseum. The contest is set to tipoff at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.
“We are excited to tomorrow’s game against Kentucky,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “After watching them on film, I am very impressed with their length, athleticism, speed and quickness. The numbers tell the story on what they are doing from an offensive standpoint. They are very efficient offensively. Defensively, they are an extremely diverse team. They are very talented in their ability to create steals, block shots and get in passing lanes. It will be a great challenge for our team. We have to do a great job offensively with our decision making and execution. Defensively we have to do a great job getting back in transition and limiting their opportunities in the open floor situations. We are looking forward to the opportunity."
The Crimson Tide (11-6, 3-1 SEC) enters the game having won three straight SEC games and four of its last five overall following a thrilling 50-49 win over Texas A&M last Saturday night. Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey hit the game-winning jumper with nine seconds remaining to lift the Tide to the win. Lacey finished with 14 points and led the team with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Junior guard Trevor Releford returned from an ankle injury to finish with a team-high 15 points off the bench – all coming in the second half.
Releford comes into the Kentucky game as the team’s top scorer. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 16.2 ppg, and ranks third in the SEC with an average of 18.7 points per game in conference play. In addition, the Kansas City, Mo., native is second in the league in free throw percentage (.850), fourth in field goal percentage (.490) and seventh in steals (1.8 spg).
Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game and leads the SEC in three-point field goal percentage for the season (45.5 percent) and in league games only (55.6 percent). He also tops the team in three pointers made (35) and attempted (77) and assists (3.6 apg). Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contributes 28.7 points per game, or approximately 44 percent of the team’s 65.5 points per game.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Rodney Cooper also averages double figures with 11.6 ppg. He leads the team in offensive rebounding (2.1 orpg) and total field goals attempted (169) and ranks second in rebounding (4.1 rpg).
Kentucky comes into Tuesday night’s showdown sporting a 12-5 overall mark and is tied for third in the SEC standings with Alabama at 3-1. Similar to the Tide, the Wildcats are playing good basketball as of late, and have won four of their last five contests entering Tuesday night's match-up.
A trio of freshmen lead the way for the Wildcats. Guard Archie Goodwin tops five UK players who average double figures, with 15.0 ppg, while forward Alex Poythress is second on the team with 13.1 points per contest. Additionally, Nerlens Noel averages 10.8 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds a game. He also ranks fourth in the country blocks per game (4.06) and is 10th nationally in steals per game (2.59).
As a team, Kentucky ranks third in the nation in blocked shots per game (7.6 bpg), is 13th in field goal percentage (.489) and is 27th in field goal percentage defense (.383).
The last UA victory over UK came on a 68-66 win on Jan. 18, 2010. It was also the last time the two teams met in Tuscaloosa. Head coach Anthony Grant has a record of 1-4 when facing Kentucky.
The first 10,000 fans through the doors will receive a free t-shirt.
The contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.
ALABAMA HEAD COACH Anthony Grant
On Kentucky’s guard play:
“They have five guys who average double figures, so they share the basketball. They are shooting almost 50 percent from the field and are an unselfish team. They have a substantial amount more assists than turnovers, so they do a good job taking care of the basketball. Defensively, they do a very good job of holding opponents to under 40-percent shooting, so they have a very good team overall. For us, it’s about controlling what we can control and that’s all we can worry about.”
On Kentucky’s program and the hype that surrounds it:
“I get excited about every game and every game, to me, that we play is the biggest game on our schedule. That doesn’t take anything away from Kentucky or Texas A&M or any other team we play. As a league, you have the defending national champion in your conference and the success our league has had in the postseason bodes well. We are certainly proud to be a member of the SEC and proud they won the national championship, but at the same time we are competitors. Our mindset is that we are going to go out and prepare the best we can in order to have a chance to win.”
On Kentucky freshman forward Nerlens Noel comparisons to Anthony Davis defensively:
“They are very similar defensive players. I think when you look at the numbers for the season, Noel is getting four blocks per game and about five a game in SEC play. What’s really impressive is his steals – he is averaging almost three steals per game on the season. He has great length, great hands and very good quickness for a guy his size. He does a great job making plays with his hustle and effort. I have been very impressed watching in him on film.”
On if his team's lack of size creates mismatches:
“We try to take advantage of our personnel. However people want to look at it, whether it’s a strength or a weakness, that’s really up to the individual. We understand who we are as a basketball team and what we have to bring on a daily basis for us to be successful. Our situation hasn’t changed over the course of the year. I think our guys are accustomed to what we do. We have to go out and find ways to be effective with what we have. We have to control what we can control.”
On Kyle Wiltjer’s steady play coming into Tuesday’s contest:
“He is a really skilled player. I think everyone knows about his ability to shoot the basketball, but what is really impressive watching him on film is how good he is passing the ball. He gets his teammates involved. He is playing really well and we will have to do a good job defensively on him. They have other guys out there as well who are really good shooting the ball, so they have some good pieces and we will have to do a good job defensively.”
On whether it is a different preparation for a team like Kentucky who has a new roster from year-to-year:
“The preparation isn’t really different. We are 17 games into the season, so you look at film of the games they have played this year. Our team is different than last year. You just have to get prepared for the game at hand. If we were playing a November game, then it would be more of an issue.”
Senior guard Andrew Steele
On having to play with a smaller lineup:
“I think it gives us an advantage in terms of setting tempo since we like to press a lot on defense. Offensively, it spaces the court for us and allows us to take advantage of our quickness and skill level, so I don’t see it as a shortcoming at all.”
On playing a Kentucky team that has nearly an entire new roster:
“We look at every game as a different situation. We try not to base anything from the past. We only worry about what we can control going forward. Our coaches do a good job on their scouting report and are very detailed with their tendencies. We go into every game extremely prepared.”
Junior guard Trevor Releford
On how his ankle is feeling after the Texas A&M game:
“I think my ankle is coming along good. We have a great medical staff who have taken good care of me and are making sure I am getting the proper treatment and stuff like that, so I think it is good to go.”