Feb. 14, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Coming off a dramatic 67-64 home victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday night, Alabama will begin another two-game road swing when it travels to square off with South Carolina on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) on SEC TV. It will mark the only meeting between the two teams this season.
Saturday's contest will be televised on SEC TV with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Joe Dean (analyst) on the call. The game can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) calling all the action. The contest will be broadcast nationally on Sirius Channel 93 and XM Channel 199. There will be live updates throughout the game on twitter @AlabamaMBB.
Alabama and South Carolina will meet for the 38th time overall, with the Crimson Tide owning a 24-13 edge in the series history. The Tide owns a record of 5-9 all time when playing at South Carolina, and has dropped six of the last eight against the Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C. The last time UA won at USC came on March 3, 2010 (W, 79-70).
Alabama coach Anthony Grant is in his fifth season at the helm of the men's basketball program. Grant owns a 96-66 (.593) record during his time at the Capstone and is 172-91 (.654) in eight seasons as a head coach. Head coach Frank Martin is in his second season at South Carolina and has guided the Gamecocks to a record of 23-33 (.411). Now in his seventh season as a head coach, Martin has a career record of 140-87 (.617).
THE NOTES YOU NEED TO KNOW
- South Carolina comes into Saturday's game ranked second in the SEC in three-point shooting at 36.9 percent for the season. However, Alabama ranks fourth in the league in three-point field goal percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot just 30.8 percent from beyond the arc on the year.
- Senior guard Trevor Releford is making a run for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. He has recorded four 20-point games over the Tide's last six contests and now has nine 20-point games this season. In addition, over Alabama's last four contests, Releford is averaging 21.5 points per game, while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc.
- In Alabama's 13 non-conference games, Cooper averaged 7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. However, the Hurtsboro, Ala., native is averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest against SEC competition.
- According to ESPN.com's RPI rankings, Alabama has the No. 2 overall strength of schedule and the No. 9-ranked non-conference SOS. Only Kansas has played a tougher slate.
- Alabama is a perfect 8-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 65 points, but the Tide falls to 2-14 this year when allowing 65 or more points in a game.
Alabama snapped its four-game losing streak with a 67-64 victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday. The Tide was led by senior guard Trevor Releford, who hit the game-winning three-pointer with sixth-tenths of a second left in regulation and finished with a game-high 26 points on the night.
Releford leads all Alabama scorers with an average of 18.7 points per game, which ranks seventh in the SEC. The SEC Player of the Year candidate has connected on 50.2 percent (140-of-279) of his shots from the floor (6th in the SEC) and a team-best 39.3 percent (53-of-135) from beyond the arc. He is also second in the SEC and 32nd nationally with 2.1 steals per game and leads the Tide with 2.9 assists per contest.
Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan is the only other player to average double figure scoring at 10.7 points per game. He also leads the SEC and ranks 26th nationally with 2.2 steals per game. He also leads the Tide in blocks per game (1.3) and in free throws attempted (131).
Junior forward Nick Jacobs is third on the team in scoring with 8.7 points per game, following his 18-point, 8-rebound performance vs. Ole Miss. He also leads the team in field goal percentage at 52.3 percent (of all players averaging at least one made field goal per game).
Freshman Shannon Hale has stepped up his game during SEC play, recording double digits in seven of the Tide's 11 league contests. Among SEC freshmen in league games only, he is eighth in scoring average (11.1 ppg).
As a team this season, UA is shooting 44.3 percent from the floor and 32.0 percent from beyond the arc. The Tide is outscoring the competition by 0.8 points a game (68.7-67.9). Alabama currently ranks fourth in the SEC and 38th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.8 percent). The Tide also ranks fifth in the SEC in free throw shooting (.701). Furthermore, UA ranks among the SEC and national leaders steals per game (7.1 spg; 5th/73rd) per game.
ALABAMA-OLE MISS: QUICK HITS
Tuesday's game marked the 172nd meeting on the hardwood between the two schools, which will be the second-most games UA has played against any one opponent. With the 67-64 victory, the Crimson Tide owns a 118-54 lead in the series.
The Crimson Tide boasts an overall record of 72-10 when playing Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa, including a 38-6 mark at Coleman Coliseum.
Head coach Anthony Grant has an all-time record of 3-5 when he has faced the Rebels, including a 3-2 mark when playing at Coleman Coliseum.
Trevor Releford scored 14 of the game's final 16 points and finished with 26 points in the victory. It marked his 25th straight game in double figures dating back to last season. Moreover, it was his ninth 20-point game of the year. It is also the 15th time he led the Tide in scoring this season.
Junior forward Nick Jacobs had 18 points and eight rebounds vs. Ole Miss. It was the second-highest scoring output of his career and the eighth double-figure scoring game this season.
Freshman forward Shannon Hale finished the night with 15 points, including setting season highs from the free throw line of (8-of-12). It marked the seventh time in 11 conference games that he has reached double figures.
Releford, Jacobs and Hale combined for 59 of the team's 67 points on the night. Jimmie Taylor and Rodney Cooper (both with four points) were the only other players to score for the Tide.
Alabama outrebounded Ole Miss, 42-34. It marked the first time in seven games the Tide has won the rebounding battle. The last time UA outrebounded an opponent came against Mississippi State on Jan. 15. Alabama improves to 8-1 this season when winning the battle of the boards.
Alabama shot 41.4 percent (24-of-58) from the floor, compared to 37.5 percent (21-of-56) for Ole Miss. The Tide improves to 10-4 this year when shooting better than its opponents (0-10 when shooting worse).
Cooper matched his career-high with 10 rebounds, which marked the third time this season he has recorded double-figure rebounds in a game.
Alabama attempted 24 free throws (16-of-24) which was the eighth consecutive game the Tide has recorded 20 or more free throw attempts.
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA - SERIES NOTES
Alabama and South Carolina will meet for the 38th time overall, with the Crimson Tide owning a 24-13 edge in the series history.
Alabama and South Carolina played only once last season, as the Tide captured a 68-58 victory in Coleman Coliseum on Feb. 16, 2013.
Alabama owns a record of 5-9 all time when playing at South Carolina, including dropping six of the last eight against the Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C. The last time the Tide won at USC came on March 3, 2010 (won 79-70).
The teams have met 28 times as SEC opponents with UA winning 17 of those meetings.
Each of the last nine games played between the two teams have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including four coming down to just one possession.
Nine of the 37 meetings (24 percent) between the two teams have come on a neutral floor.
Head coach Anthony Grant has an all-time record of 4-1 when his team has faced South Carolina, and is 1-1 when playing the Gamecocks in Columbia.
Saturday's game will mark the only meeting between the Tide and Gamecocks this season.
The series began during 1922-23 campaign.
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA: A LOOK BACK
Alabama defeated South Carolina 68-58 in the lone meeting between the two teams last season on Feb. 16, 2013 in Coleman Coliseum.
Trevor Lacey led the team with 17 points to go with two steals. Rodney Cooper scored 10 points on the night, while Nick Jacobs also had 10 points.
Alabama jumped out to a big lead early in the first half in large part due to a 17-2 run that put Alabama up 17-4. Alabama led by as much as 23 points, at 32-9 with 5:55 to go in the half before South Carolina was able to bring it back to a 35-24 halftime score.
South Carolina guard Brenton Williams led the Gamecocks with 14 points and had four steals.
Coach Anthony Grant's thoughts: "This game, to me, was a game of spurts. I didn't like the way we finished the first half, but I thought we came out in the second half and played with better energy. We built the lead back up, and obviously they cut back into it, but I thought for the most part our guys tried to do the things we asked them to do. It was good to see us play with that confidence. I thought the ball movement was great and we got some shots to go down, which obviously allowed us from a defensive standpoint to get in the press and be effective, and I thought it gave us energy as well."
Alabama will close out its longest road stretch of the season (four away games in a five-game stretch) when it travels to take on Texas A&M on Thursday night at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
The contest will mark the 11th meeting in series history and the second time the two teams will meet as SEC rivals. In the first-ever meeting as conference foes last season, Alabama captured a narrow 50-49 victory in Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama owns a 7-3 edge in the previous 10 games, however, the Aggies have won three of the last four contests against the Crimson Tide.
This marks just the fourth time Alabama has played at College Station, Texas, and the first since Dec. 13, 2008. The Tide has an all-time record of 1-2 when playing at Texas A&M, with the lone victory coming on Feb. 5, 1992 (W, 74-61).
Seven of the 10 contests in the series have been decided by single digits, including one overtime contest (12/13/08).
Thursday night's contest will be the only meeting this season between the two teams.
Head coach Anthony Grant's has a 1-0 record when taking on Texas A&M.
Releford's 20-Point Streak: With 26 points against Ole Miss on Tuesday night, senior point guard Trevor Releford now has nine 20-point games this season, including four over his last six games. Over the six-game span, the Kansas City, Mo., native is averaging 20.3 points, while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Getting To The Line: Alabama has had 20 or more free throw attempts in eight consecutive games coming into Saturday's contest at South Carolina.
Rebounding: In seven of the last eight games, Alabama has lost the battle of the boards. It is an important stat in determining the outcome of a game. When Alabama has outrebounded opponents this season, it owns a record of 8-1. However, the Tide is 2-13 when getting outrebounded.
Consecutive Road Losses: Coming into the South Carolina game, Alabama has dropped 11 consecutive road contests overall (which includes neutral site games) and eight straight in SEC play.
Giving up too many free throws: In Alabama's five road games against SEC competition, it has given up 147 free throws, an average of 29.4 free throw attempts per game. As a result, the Tide is getting outscored from the foul line in road conference games by 6.6 points per game (21.6-15.0 per game).
COOPER STEPPING UP IN LEAGUE PLAY
Junior guard Rodney Cooper has picked up his play since the start of the conference season.
In Alabama's 13 non-conference games, Cooper averaged 7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. However, the Hurtsboro, Ala., native is averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. His shooting percentage have also been on the rise.
Below is a complete look of Cooper's numbers in non-conference vs. conference play this season.
Cooper in... PPG RPG FG% 3FG% FT%
Non-Conference 7.0 4.6 .356 .293 .682
Conference 8.8 5.6 .393 .310 .824
HALE MAKING IT RAIN
Freshman Shannon Hale has been making a solid contribution for head coach Anthony Grant over the Tide's last 14 contests.
After seeing limited action over the first 10 games into his freshman season, Hale is second on the team points (10.9 ppg) and rebounds (3.9 rpg) per game in the last 14 games, while connecting 43 percent from the floor and 33 percent from deep.
Hale has been even more impressive during SEC play, as he has reached double figures in seven of UA's 11 league games and ranks eighth among SEC freshmen in scoring average (11.1 ppg). He set a career-high with 17 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute of play, in the win over LSU (1/25).
Below is a breakdown of Hale's numbers from his first 10 games to his last 14:
GP-GS MPG PPG RPG FG% 3FG%
First 10 gms 9-0 11.1 2.7 2.2 .321 .286
Last 14 gms 14-13 26.6 11.1 3.9 .430 .326
ALABAMA'S Top-10 SCORER
Guard Trevor Releford not only became the 10th player in program history to reach the 1,700-point plateau, but also ranks in 10th on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,728 career points. The last UA player to reach 1,700 points in a career was Erwin Dudley (6th on the all-time list with 1,775 points) who achieved the feat as a senior in 2003.
The Kansas City, Mo., native needs 22 points to pass former great Michael Ansley (1986-89) into ninth place on the school's all-time scoring list.
Last season, Releford became the 46th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, doing so in just 82 contests.
Below is a list of where Releford currently ranks among the all-time scoring leaders at Alabama:
Player Years Points
8. Brian Williams 1996-99 1,759
9. Michael Ansley 1986-89 1,749
10. Trevor Releford 2010-pr. 1,728
According to the latest ESPN.com's RPI rankings, Alabama has the No. 2 overall strength of schedule and the No. 8-ranked non-conference strength of schedule. Only Kansas has played a tougher slate.
The Tide finished the non-conference slate with seven losses. The teams that defeated Alabama in non-league play have a combined record of 124-48 (.721) through games played as of Feb. 14 [Oklahoma, 18-7; Duke, 19-5; Drexel, 13-11; USF, 12-13; Wichita State, 26-0; Xavier, 17-7; UCLA, 19-5].
Of the seven non-conference losses, five came against teams ranked among the top 45 RPI, according to KenPom.com. In fact, 10 of the Tide's 14 losses this season have come against teams ranked among the top-60 RPIs in the nation.