Alabama Set To Open SEC Tournament Against LSU Thursday Night

March 12, 2014

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama earned the No. 10 seed in the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament will open play against No. 7 seed LSU on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT). It will mark the first meeting between the two schools in the SEC tournament since March 8, 1987 when the Tide defeated the Tigers in the championship game, 69-62.

                              

Thursday's contest will be televised on SEC TV and ESPN3 with Dave Neal (play-by-play), Jon Sundvold (analyst) and Jeff Goodman (sideline) 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 also be broadcast nationally on Sirius Channel 108 and XM Channel 199. There will be live updates throughout the game on twitter @AlabamaMBB.

 

THE SERIES

Alabama and LSU will meet for the 172nd time in series history - the second-most times UA has played any one opponent in program history. The Tide owns a 103-68 lead in the all-time series. It will mark the second meeting between the two teams this season, as Alabama captured an 82-80 victory over LSU back on Jan. 25 in Coleman Coliseum. Thursday's game marks the eighth time the rivals will meet in the SEC Tournament, with Alabama owning a 5-2 record in such games. Head coach Anthony Grant has an all-time record of 7-2 when his UA teams have faced LSU.

 

THE COACHES

Alabama coach Anthony Grant is in his fifth season at the helm of the men's basketball program. Grant owns a 99-70 (.586) record during his time at the Capstone and is 175-95 (.648) in eight seasons as a head coach. LSU head coach Johnny Jones is in his second season as a head coach and has guided the Tigers to a record of 37-24 (.607). Now in his 14th season as a head coach, Jones has a career record of 242-186(.565).

 

THE NOTES YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • The Alabama defense has tightened up over its last three games heading into the tournament. During the stretch, the Tide is holding opponents to only 56.7 points per game, while allowing the opposition to shoot just 30.1 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Junior guard Levi Randolph has reached double figures in four of the team's last five games entering SEC Tournament play. During the five-game stretch, Randolph is averaging 17.8 points, while shooting 29-of-57 from the floor (50.9 percent) and is 10-of-22 from beyond the arc (45.5 percent).
  • Trevor Releford currently ranks fifth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,862 career points. He needs eight points to pass former UA great Buck Johnson (1,869 points from 1983-86) and move into fourth on the school's all-time scoring list. He also needs 38 points to become only the fourth player in program lore to reach the 1,900-point plateau..
  • According to the latest ESPN.com RPI rankings, Alabama has the No. 2 overall strength of schedule and the No. 10-ranked non-conference strength of schedule. Only Kansas has played a tougher slate (as of March 11).

 

RELEFORD, HALE NAMED ALL-CONFERENCE

• Senior guard Trevor Releford was selected to the SEC All-Conference First Team, while Shannon Hale earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors according to a vote of the league's head coaches, which was announced on Tuesday.

• It marks the second consecutive season Releford has been named to the league's first team and it is the fourth consecutive year he was named as an all-conference performer. He earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 2011 and second team recognition in 2012.

• The only other players in program history to claim four straight all-league accolades were Jermareo Davidson (2004-07) and Jerry Harper (1953-56). Furthermore, Releford becomes the first Alabama player to earn back-to-back first team honors since Kennedy Winston achieved the feat in 2004 and 2005.

• Meanwhile, Hale becomes the 15th player in program history to be named to the All-SEC Freshman Team and the first since Releford achieved the feat in 2011.

 

SCOUTING ALABAMA

• Alabama comes into the Southeastern Conference Tournament having won three of its last five contests following an 83-58 win over Arkansas in the regular-season finale last Saturday. The Tide was led by senior guard Trevor Releford who had game highs of 24 points, four assists and three steals in the victory. Freshman Shannon Hale added 18 points off the bench, while junior Levi Randolph contributed 11 points in the win.

• Releford leads all Alabama scorers with an average of 18.8 points per game, which ranks fifth in the SEC. The Kansas City, Mo., native also ranks fifth in the SEC in field goal percentage, shooting 50.5 percent (185-of-366) from the floor, and is fourth in the league in three-point shooting with a team-best 39.7 percent (71-of-179) from beyond the arc. He also leads the SEC and ranks 21st nationally with 2.2 steals per game and leads the Tide with 3.1 assists per contest.

• Obasohan (9.6 ppg) and junior guard Levi Randolph (9.5 ppg) rank second and third on the team in scoring, respectively. Obasohan ranks fifth in the SEC with 1.8 steals per game. He also ranks second on the Tide in blocks per game (1.0) and leads UA in free throws made (104). Randolph is second in the team in rebounding (3.8 rpg) and is third in three-point field goal percentage (34.4 percent) and steals (24).

• Hale, who earned SEC Freshman of the Week for the week of March 3, has stepped up his game during SEC play, recording double digits in 11 of the Tide's 18 league contests. He ranks eighth among SEC freshmen in league games only in scoring at 11.6 ppg and is ninth among league rookies in rebounding with 4.1 rpg. For the year, Hale is fourth on the team with an average of 8.6 points, second in three-point field goal percentage (.349) and third in rebounds per game (3.6 rpg).

• As a team this season, UA is outscoring opponents by 1.0 points per game (68.2-67.2) despite its 13-18 overall record. That's mainly because 18 of he Tide's 31 games have been decided by 10 or fewer points. However, UA owns a 5-13 record in such contests. Alabama is shooting 44.7 percent from the floor and 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. Alabama currently ranks second in the SEC and 21st nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.0 percent). The Tide also ranks seventh in the SEC in free throw shooting (69.1 percent).

 

ALABAMA-ARKANSAS: QUICK HITS

• Saturday's game between Alabama and Arkansas marked the 57th meeting in series history. With the Tide's 83-58 win, the Razorbacks now own a slim 29-28 edge in the all-time series.

• Alabama owns a record of 19-5 when playing Arkansas in Tuscaloosa. The Tide has now won seven consecutive games over the Razorbacks in Coleman Coliseum. The last time Arkansas won at Alabama came on Jan. 27, 2007.

• UA head coach Anthony Grant owns a record of 6-3 when his teams have faced Arkansas, including a perfect 5-0 mark at home.

• Senior guard Trevor Releford finished the night with 24 points, which marked his 12th 20-point game of the season. He also moved past former great Jerry Harper (1953-56) into fifth place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,862 points.

• Senior guard Isiah Wilson started on Senior Day, which marked his first career start and 11th career game played. He finished with career highs of five points and two rebounds.

• The starting lineup of Trevor Releford, Jimmie Taylor, Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Isiah Wilson marked the 14th different starting lineup used by Grant in the Tide's 31 games this season.

• Alabama held Arkansas to the 17.4 percent shooting (4-of-23) from the field in the first half. That is the lowest field goal percentage for an opponent against the Tide in any half this year.

• Alabama led 39-16 at halftime. The 23 point lead was the largest lead UA has had at halftime of any game this year.

• Junior guard Levi Randolph finished the night with 11 points, which marked his fourth double-figure scoring game over his last five contests. During the five-game stretch, Randolph is averaging 17.8 points, while shooting 29-of-57 from the floor (50.9 percent) and is 10-of-22 from beyond the arc (45.5 percent).

• Alabama outrebounded Arkansas, 41-25, on the night. It was only the second time in the last 15 games that the Tide won the battle of the boards. Furthermore, the +16 rebounding advantage tied for UA's biggest advantage on the glass all season (outrebounded Georgia State, 40-24, on Nov. 19). The Tide moves to 9-1 this season when outrebounding the opposition.

• Freshman Shannon Hale finished with 18 points on the night, which marked his second-highest scoring output this season. It was also the 11th time in 18 league contests that he has scored in double figures.

• Alabama shot 54.7 percent (29-of-53) from the floor, compared to 31.3 percent (15-of-48) for Arkansas. The Tide improves to 13-6 this year when shooting better than its opponents (0-12 when shooting worse).

 

ALABAMA-LSU - SERIES NOTES

• Alabama and LSU will meet for the 172nd time in series history - the second-most times UA has played any one opponent in program history.

• The Tide owns a 103-68 lead in the all-time series, which includes a 6-4 mark in neutral site contests and a 5-2 edge when facing the Tigers in the SEC Tournament.

• This will mark the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Tide captured an 82-80 victory over the Tigers back on Jan. 25 in Coleman Coliseum.

• Thursday's contest will mark the first meeting in the SEC Tournament between the two teams since  March 8, 1987 when then-No. 9 Alabama defeated LSU, 69-62, in the championship game to claim the SEC title.

• Alabama has won seven of the last nine meetings and 12 of the last 16 games the two teams have played.

• Alabama and LSU have played in 10 overtime games in series history, including two triple overtime contests (2/10/90 & 2/23/13) and a quadruple overtime contest (2/12/72) - the only four-overtime game in school history. Alabama has an impressive 8-2 record when it has played LSU in overtime.

•             Head coach Anthony Grant has an all-time record of 7-2 when his team has faced LSU.

 

ALABAMA-LSU: A LOOK BACK

• Alabama defeated LSU, 82-80, back on Jan. 25 in a back-and-forth game at Coleman Coliseum. It was the only meeting of the season between the two teams.

• Senior guard Trevor Releford led the Crimson Tide with 21 points and two steals.

Shannon Hale had 17 points and six assists, including knocking down a go-ahead three-pointer with 37 seconds remaining in the game.

• Junior Rodney Cooper had 19 points, with 17 of those coming in the second half, along with a game-high six rebounds. Junior Levi Randolph added 14 points and two steals.

• After falling behind 7-0 to open the game, Alabama went on a 24-2 run to seize control of the game. The Tide led 36-23 at the half and led by as many as 19 points with 17:04 remaining in the game.

• However, LSU responded with a 21-4 run of its own to narrow Alabama's lead to 58-56 with 8:40 remaining. The Tigers eventually went ahead and led by as many as three points (71-68) with 4:55 left.

• The Tide kept close and Hale's three-pointer gave Alabama the lead for good, but the win did not come easily. Up by four, Algie Key fouled LSU's Andre Stringer on a three-point attempt, with seven seconds remaining. Stringer calmly drained all three free throws to cut the lead to one, 81-80. However. Cooper hit a free throw and blocked Anthony Hickey's game-tying shot attempt at the buzzer to seal the victory.

• LSU's Johnny O'Bryant III led five Tigers in double figures with 18 points, while Shavon Coleman added 13 points and a game-high three steals.

• Coach Anthony Grant's thoughts: "LSU did a great job. They took it to us in the second half. We turned it over a lot against their pressure. They did a good job of creating opportunities and attacking us. The thing I am most proud of our guys for was their ability to overcome the deficit that we had when [LSU] took the lead. Our guys never folded. They got tougher and made the plays down the stretch that we needed to win the game."

 

DEFENSE STEPPING UP

• The Alabama defense has tightened up over its last three games heading into the tournament.

• During the stretch, the Tide is holding opponents to only 56.7 points per game, while allowing the opposition to shoot just 30.1 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc.

• As a result, Alabama is outscoring the opposition by 11.3 points per game (68.0-56.7) over the three-game stretch.

 

LEAVING A LEGACY

• Senior point guard and SEC Player of the Year candidate Trevor Releford is quietly putting together one of the best seasons by any player in the league. Below is a breakdown of where he ranks among the SEC and national leaders this year:

Category                              SEC Rank              NCAA Rank

Total Steals (66)                                1st                          23rd

SPG (2.2)                             1st                          21st

FT% (.847)                           3rd                         70th

PPG (18.8)                           5th                         58th

Total Points (563)             3rd                         65th

3FG% (.397)                        4th                         --

FG% (.505)                          5th                         85th

3's Made/Game (2.4)     7th                         --

• Furthermore, below is how Releford's career numbers rank among the greatest players to ever play at Alabama:

Category                                              UA History

Steals (260)                                         1st (SEC Active Leader)

                                                                5th in SEC History

Steals Per Game (1.9)                    1st

FT% (.815)                                           5th

Total Assists (392)                            9th (2nd among SEC Active Players)

Career Starts (125)                          2nd

Career Games Played (133)         T-1st

3-Point Attempts (442)                  9th

Total Points (1,862)                         5th (SEC Active Leader)

 

RECENT TRENDS

Releford's Season Point Total: Trevor Releford comes into the LSU game 563 points scored this season, which placed him 17th on the single-season point total list in UA program history. It is the most points scored in a season at Alabama since Tony Mitchell scored 564 points during the 2010-11 campaign.

Leaning On Levi: Junior guard Levi Randolph has reached double figures in four of the team's last five games entering SEC Tournament play. During the five-game stretch, Randolph is averaging 17.8 points, while shooting 29-of-57 from the floor (50.9 percent) and is 10-of-22 from beyond the arc (45.5 percent).

Rebounding: Alabama outrebounded Arkansas, 41-25, which marked only the second time in the last 15 games the Tide has won the battle of the boards. The rebounding battle is an important stat in determining the outcome of a game. When Alabama has outrebounded opponents this season, it owns a record of 9-1. However, the Tide is 4-16 when getting outrebounded.

Double-Figure Scoring Streak: Releford has reached double figures in 32 consecutive games dating back to last season. The last time the senior point guard failed to reach double figures in a game came on when he scored nine points in the NIT opening round victory over Northeastern on March 19, 2013. Furthermore, he has reached double digits in 42 of UA's last 43 contests.

Consecutive Road Losses: Following the loss at Kentucky on March 4, Alabama has now dropped 15 consecutive road contests overall (which includes neutral site games) and 12 straight in SEC play.

 

DIFFERENCE IN HOME AND AWAY NUMBERS

• Alabama finished with a 13-4 record in games played at Coleman Coliseum this year. However, the Tide is 0-14 away from home, which includes an 0-3 mark in neutral site games.

• In its 17 home games, the Tide shot 48.4 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. However, when playing away from home, those numbers fall to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor and 28.8 percent from deep.

• Below is a breakdown of key numbers on the road and at home this season.

                                                OPP                       OPP                       OPP

                                PPG       PPG       FG%       FG%       3FG%    3FG%

HOME                   73.4        63.8        .484        .400        .374        .318

AWAY                   61.9        71.2        .402        .437        .288        .272

 

HALE MAKING IT RAIN

• Freshman Shannon Hale has been making a solid  contribution for head coach Anthony Grant during the Southeastern Conference season.

• Against Ole Miss this on Feb. 26, Hale collected a career-best 27 points and tied a career high with nine boards. He also set new bench marks in free throws made (10) and free throws attempted (11). For his efforts, he was named the SEC Freshman of the Week, becoming the first Alabama player to earn the honor since 2011.

• Hale has been even more impressive during SEC play, as he has reached double figures in 11 of UA's 18 league games. He  ranks eighth among SEC freshmen in scoring (11.6 ppg) and is ninth in rebounding (4.1 rpg).

• After seeing limited action during non-conference play during his freshman season, Hale ranks second on the team points and rebounds per game, while connecting 44 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc in league play.

• Below is a breakdown of Hale's numbers from non-conference play to SEC play:

                                GP-GS   MPG      PPG       RPG       FG%       3FG%

Non-Conf            12-2       13.6        4.5          2.9          .426        .348

SEC                         18-17     28.1        11.6        4.1          .435        .350

 

TOUGH COMPETITION

• According to the latest ESPN.com's RPI rankings, Alabama has the No. 2 overall strength of schedule and the No. 10-ranked non-conference strength of schedule. Only Kansas has played a tougher slate (as of March 11).

• The Tide finished the non-conference slate with seven losses. The teams that defeated Alabama in non-league play have a combined record of 152-67 (.694) through games played as of March 7 [Oklahoma, 23-8; Duke, 24-7; Drexel, 16-14; USF, 12-19; Wichita State, 34-0; Xavier, 20-11; UCLA, 23-8].

• Of the seven non-conference losses, five came against teams ranked among the top 45 RPI, according to KenPom.com. In fact, 12 of the Tide's 18 losses this season have come against teams ranked among the top-80 RPIs in the nation.