Alabama Hosts Rival Auburn On Tuesday Night

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Senior guard Andrew Steele, along with head coach Anthony Grant, addressed the media on Monday.
Senior guard Andrew Steele, along with head coach Anthony Grant, addressed the media on Monday.

Feb. 25, 2013


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will host the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum. The contest is set to tip off at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU.

In addition to the action that will take place on the court, there will also be plenty of excitement for fans surrounding the contest.

Prior to the game, fans will have a chance to meet former Alabama standout Robert Horry, who will be signing autographs in the main concourse of Coleman Coliseum from 4:30-6 p.m. The former UA great will sign one item per person and no pictures will be allowed during the autograph session.

In addition to the pregame festivities, head coach Nick Saban and the 2012 national championship football team will be on hand to accept the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) FOY Sportsmanship Trophy during halftime.

 “We’re looking forward to getting back on the court and facing our in-state rival, Auburn,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “Obviously we are coming off of a tough road loss in our last game, but I think our guys have been able to put that behind us and understand that we’ve got to take care of today. Our focus right now is on Auburn; the last time we played them was a very tough defeat. I felt like we got outplayed in a lot of ways and a lot of it was in the effort department, so we’ve got to refocus and understand that we’ve got to play extremely well. If you look at the series, when our two teams get together, pretty much every game has come down to the wire. Pretty much every game is a battle when our two teams get together, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Alabama and Auburn will meet for the second time in 20 days when the teams square off on Tuesday night. In the first meeting between the two squads, back on Feb. 6 at Auburn Arena, the Crimson Tide were held to only 37 points in a 49-37 loss to the Tigers. It was Auburn’s only victory in its past 12 contests.

The Crimson Tide (18-9, 10-4 SEC) enters the game tied for second place in the SEC standings. Most recently, the Tide had its four-game winning streak snapped with a triple overtime 97-94 loss at LSU on Saturday. Junior guard Trevor Releford scored a career-high 36 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the floor in the losing effort. In addition, he became the school’s all-time steals leader, recording three steals in the contest. He now has 178 steals during his three-year career. Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper added 18 points and a team-high nine boards.

Despite the setback, UA has won six of its last eight games and 10 of its last 13 coming into Tuesday’s match-up.

Releford comes into the game as the team’s top scorer. A preseason All-SEC honoree, Releford ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 15.4 ppg. He also tops the squad in three-point field goal percentage (.423), steals per game (2.1) and free throw shooting (.817), and ranks second on the team in assists (2.7 apg).

Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Coming into Tuesday’s contest, Lacey leads the team in threes made (46) and attempted (122) and assists (3.1 apg).

Combined, the duo of Releford and Lacey contribute 27.3 points per game, or approximately 43 percent of the team's 63.6 points per game.

Meanwhile, Cooper also averages double figures with 11.4 ppg and has reached double-digits in seven consecutive contests coming into Tuesday’s game. He leads the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg), offensive rebounding (2.0 orpg) and total field goals attempted (272).

Auburn comes into Tuesday’s showdown sporting a 9-18 overall mark and a 3-11 record in SEC play. After opening the conference season with a 2-0 mark, the Tigers have lost 11 of their last 12 contests, with the lone win coming over the Tide back on Feb. 6 in Auburn, Ala.

The Tigers are led on the year by senior guard Frankie Sullivan, who tops the team in several categories, including scoring (14.7 ppg), field goals made (128) and attempted (340) and three pointers made (47) and attempted (164).

Junior guard Chris Denson is the only other player on AU’s squad to average double figures, with 11.3 ppg. Senior center Rob Chubb is averaging 8.7 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds a contest.

Tuesday’s game will mark the 147th meeting on the hardwood between the two schools, which is the fourth-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Crimson Tide owns an 89-57 edge in the series. UA owns an all-time record of 37-7 when playing Auburn in Coleman Coliseum. The Tide is 44-8 when hosting AU in Tuscaloosa.

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.


Head Coach Anthony Grant

Key to bouncing back from tough losses:
“I think our guys are resilient. I think every challenge that myself or our coaching staff puts in front of them, they’ve tried to answer. Now we’ve had our ups and downs, but I think for the most part they’ve responded when we’ve had those situations. So, every situation’s different. This one is different than any of the other ones, so we’ve just got to be ready and take it one day at a time.”

Importance of last stretch of the season, specifically regarding NCAA tournament hopes:
“We’re taking it one game at a time. This game we have tomorrow is the most important game of the season. So for us, at least for me, I can’t see any farther than tomorrow. That’s my total focus and we’ve just got to take care of ourselves and take care of the game that’s in front of us.”

On the roller coaster type of season:
“I would say that there’s been ups and downs and I think most seasons you have ups and downs. But right now we’re in second place – tied for second with Kentucky in the league – and like I’ve told you guys before, our focus is on making sure that we do what we need to do to secure a top-four seed as we head into the SEC tournament. That we can control. The games that are left, we’ve got to focus one game at a time and just take care of us. We can’t change what’s happened in the past, we can’t predict the future, but we can control right now – our attitudes and our effort – and that’s what we’ve got to be able to do.”

LSU game evidence that Releford should shoot more often:
“When you go (14-of-18), that’s pretty good shooting. But obviously in a basketball game, there are five defenders out there, there are game plans that you go through and there are four other guys on your team as well; so it’s always going to be a team game. So for him to get 36 in the game, as highly contested as that was, I think that speaks to his toughness and his teammates’ ability to get him the ball when he’s open and just a lot of different things that go on over the course of a forty-minute game. So I thought he gave us a great effort; unfortunately it didn’t come in a winning effort.”


Senior Guard Andrew Steele

On how the team bounces back from tough losses:
“Coach does a good job of making us focus on the moment, he always lets us know that, no matter what happened the game before. Every game is different and we have to focus on that, even in games, we need to focus on the present moment and not the past play. I think that we do a good job of not letting things get on our back and look forward.”

On the NCAA Tournament:
“Each game is important. We have always been taught to control what we can control. In terms of the selection committee, we can’t control what they decide but we can control how we come out and play each game. Our next game is Auburn and if we can’t get focused and prepared to play those guys then we don’t have a chance. It is just the next game that is the most important one.”

On the triple overtime:
“We are ready to go. We have conditioned enough and prepared for what we have to face. We have also had a couple of days to recover so we are ready to go.”

On his ankle:
“It is one of those things that is day-to-day. In a perfect world I would have no pain. When I get in a game I am focused on so many other things that I put it in the back of my mind and just try to do whatever I can to help us win.”

On if the Auburn loss sticks out:
“Every loss sticks out. I think that it was disappointing the way we came out in the second half with a lack of focus and energy. That is what ultimately determined the game and Auburn came out ready to play. Against LSU, we had some mental breakdowns but we fought and they fought. You have to give them credit; they made the plays that we were unable to make. You try to learn from every game and I think we have learned from the Auburn game, and tomorrow we will be able to prove what we learned from LSU.”

On Trevor Releford’s night:
“The bigger the moment the better he plays. I don’t think that his thing was, ‘I am going to go out there and try to score,’ it was just whenever we needed a bucket or play he took what the defense gave him. He is such a great player and can do things that does not look like is there. He can see things that other people might not be able to see. His shooting has gotten a lot better as well.”