March 4, 2013
ALABAMA GAME NOTES | MISSISSIPPI GAME NOTES
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will play its final regular-season road contest when it takes on Mississippi on Tuesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss. The contest is set to tip off at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU.
There will be a lot on the line for the Crimson Tide (19-10, 11-5 SEC), who enter the game tied for second in the SEC standings with Kentucky. With a victory, Alabama would clinch a top four seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament, which means an automatic berth into Friday’s quarterfinals.
However, Mississippi (21-8, 10-6) owns a 15-1 home record this season, with the lone loss coming against Kentucky back on Jan. 29. It will also be Senior Night for three Rebels’ players.
The Crimson Tide comes into the contest having won five of its last seven games and 11 of its last 15 overall. Most recently, UA dropped a 64-52 decision at then-No. 8/6 Florida on Saturday. Junior guard Trevor Releford led the Tide with 12 points on the day, while sophomores Trevor Lacey and Nick Jacobs each accounted for 11 points in the losing effort.
Releford comes into the game as the team's top scorer. An SEC Player of the Year candidate, Releford ranks fifth in the league in scoring (15.4 ppg) and field goal percentage (.487). He also tops the squad in three-point field goal percentage (.411), steals per game (2.1) and free throw shooting (.818), and ranks second on the team in assists (2.7 apg).
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 (50) and attempted (134) 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 63.1 points per game.
Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper also averages double figures with 10.8 ppg and has reached double-digits in eight of his last 11 contests coming into Tuesday’s game. He leads the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg), offensive rebounding (1.9 orpg) and total field goals attempted (283).
Mississippi comes into Tuesday’s showdown sporting a 21-8 overall mark and is one game back of Alabama in the conference standings with a 10-6 record in SEC play. The Rebels began the year at 17-2, but have stumbled over its last 10 games with a 4-6 record, including losses at South Carolina and at Mississippi State.
Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 78.8 points per game. The Rebels also rank second in the league in scoring margin (+11.2) and sixth in the SEC in assists (12.9).
Leading the offensive charge is junior guard Marshall Henderson, who leads the SEC in scoring at 19.5 points per game. He has attempted a team-leading 432 shots this season, 320 of which have come from beyond the arc (114-of-320/.356). Senior forward Murphy Holloway is the only other player to average double figures with 14.8 ppg, and leads the squad with 9.8 rebounds a game.
Senior forward Reginald Buckner averages a team-best 2.8 blocks a game to go along with 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest, while sophomore guard Jarvis Summers leads the team in assists (3.8 apg).
Tuesday’s game will mark the 171st meeting on the hardwood between the two schools, which will be the second-most games UA has played against any one opponent. The Crimson Tide owns a 117-53 lead in the series. However, the Rebels own a record of 40-38 when playing the Crimson Tide in Oxford, including a 25-22 mark in Tad Smith Coliseum.
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
“We’re in the home stretch here, the last week of the regular season. This next one will be a tough game here going on the road at Ole Miss. It’s senior night for them, and you have to start with their three seniors, who have had tremendous careers. Obviously, it’s a chance to wrap up their careers. You look at Murphy Holloway, who I believe is the school’s all-time leading rebounder, and Reginald Buckner, the all-time leading shot blocker in school history. Then Nick Williams, an Alabama guy, has had a tremendous career. Those guys have done a great job, and then on top of that you’ve got the SEC’s leading scorer in Marshall Henderson. They are a very good team when you watch them on film. I’m really impressed with the way they can score the basketball. I believe they lead the league in scoring. For us, going on the road, defending a team as dynamic as them, will be challenging. And then obviously the size and physicality they bring to the table we have to be prepared for.”
On defending against a player like (Marshall) Henderson:
“He’s a terrific scorer. He scores in a variety of ways. He’s got a great ability to make tough shots. So all you can do is try to make it difficult on him. Where he’s really impressive is his ability to get to the free throw line. He’s got a way of drawing contact, and he really knows how to play. We just have to do a great job of trying to be disciplined and make him work for what he gets. A guy like him, he’s going to score, and the thing that you can’t do is get discouraged. You have to try to do the best job you can, and just try to make it as difficult as possible.”
On playing defense without fouling:
“Well, that’s a concern. Especially going into a game like this, with Ole Miss’ size and physicality, it’s a concern. When you look at our last two road games, we’ve fouled 49 times to our opponents’ 28, a 21 foul differential. You look at free throws, we’ve attempted 29 free throws, our opponents attempted 63 free throws in the last two games. You’re dealing with a team in Ole Miss that in their last six games they’re averaging 28 free throws a game. So that will be critical for us. (The media) talk all the time about how physical SEC basketball is and how it impacts games. For us, the last two road games, we feel like they’ve been physical. We have to do a better job of being able of getting ourselves to the free throw line, which is a critical part of our success and being able to keep our opponent off the free throw line. The last two road games, 63 free throws – over 31 attempts a game for our opponents – that’s a 27-point differential, which is tough to overcome. That will be a point of emphasis for us. We have to do a better job there.”
Senior Guard Andrew Steele
On what the challenge will be in the upcoming game against Ole Miss:
“Anytime you go on the road in this league, it’s always a challenge. Ole Miss is a good team. They have a lot of good players. It’s their senior night, so we know that their emotional level is going to be up a little bit. The challenge for us is to go in and try to do the things we do to be successful. We’re going to have to do a good job on (Marshall) Henderson. He’s one of those guys that you can’t really shut out, you just have to make it as tough for him as possible. We have to be ready for the physicality they’re going to bring. Like I said, any time you go on the road in this league it’s a tough challenge, but I think we’re ready for it.”
On the importance of getting one of the top four spots in the SEC tournament:
“We understand that getting one of those top four seeds gives us a double bye, as opposed to playing four or five games, at the most we’d play three. That’s been an important goal for us all year. With two games left, we control the way we go out. At worst we’ll finish second, so I think that gives us a good advantage of going to the SEC tournament. We always have that on our minds.”
Junior Guard Trevor Releford
On playing at Ole Miss in the past:
“The couple times we’ve been there they’ve had good teams. They always play hard. Hopefully we can go in there tomorrow and play well.”