Alabama Men's Basketball Opens 100th Season Against South Dakota State in 2K Sports Classic

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Nick Jacobs connected on 8-of-12 shots from the floor for a team-leading 16 points in the exhibition win over Stillman.
Nick Jacobs connected on 8-of-12 shots from the floor for a team-leading 16 points in the exhibition win over Stillman.

Nov. 8, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama men’s basketball team will open its 100th season of play on Friday when it hosts South Dakota State in the Tuscaloosa Regional of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. The contest, which is set to tip at 8 p.m. CT, will be televised on ESPNU.

The match-up will be the first of two games the Tide will play as regional hosts of the event. On Sunday, Alabama welcomes in-state foe West Alabama for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Tickets for Friday's opener, as well as Sunday's game are available via the Athletics Ticket Office by calling 1-877-TIDETIX or visiting

Alabama Game Notes | South Dakota State Game Notes

SERIES RECORD: First Meeting
(Lou Canellis and Kara Lawson)
(Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink)

For Starters...
• Alabama is a host team for the 2012 2K Sports Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. The four host teams (which also includes Oregon State, Purdue and Villanova) will meet in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15-16.
• Alabama closed the 2011-12 season with a 21-12 record and returned to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Region.
• The Crimson Tide’s season ended in the second round of the tournament with a 58-57 loss to Creighton in Greensboro, N.C.
• The tournament trip was the 19th in Alabama history and its first since 2006. The Tide is 18-19 all-time in the tournament and has advanced to the Sweet 16 seven times and the Elite Eight once.
• The appearance also was the first for any current member of the Crimson Tide. Head coach Anthony Grant made his third trip to the tournament as a head coach.
• The squad finished the season with an RPI of 40 and a strength of schedule of 29.
• In its 16 SEC games, Alabama was led in scoring by six different players.
• Only 13 of Alabama’s 33 opponents reached the 60-point mark in regulation in 2011-12 and five failed to score 50 points.
• The Tide’s 33 opponents converted on only 38.9 percent of their field goal attempts, the 16th-lowest average in the nation.
• Opponents also scored only 58.1 points per game against Alabama, the ninth-lowest average in the country.
• Of its 33 opponents last season, 11 scored their season low against the Tide’s defense.

Alabama Embarks On 100th Season Of Basketball
• The 2012-13 men’s basketball season will mark the 100th year of hoops at the University of Alabama. Throughout the season, Alabama will have stories, videos and promotions to commemorate the occasion.
• A special celebration for 100 years of basketball at Alabama will take place on Saturday, March 9, when the Crimson Tide takes on Georgia, and will be presented by Alabama Power and Legacy Credit Union.
• Since 1973, Alabama has appeared in 30 postseason tournaments (NCAA and NIT). 

Last Time Out
• Alabama sophomore Nick Jacobs had a team-high 16 points and five rebounds as the men’s basketball team defeated Stillman, 76-68, in exhibition action at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night.
• Freshman Devonta Pollard finished with 15 points and seven boards, while Moussa Gueye (14) and Trevor Lacey (13) each reached double figures for the contest.
• The game featured 10 ties and 12 lead changes, including seven ties and nine lead changes in the first 20 minutes alone.
• Alabama took control on the strength of a 12-3 run over a 4:24 stretch the spanned the end of the first half and beginning of the second. With that run, the Crimson Tide turned a six-point deficit into a three-point lead.
• From there, Alabama extended its lead by as many as 15 points, 69-54, with 4:09 remaining, before the Tigers made a late rally.

Season Openers
• Alabama is 79-20 all-time in season openers and 8-3 in its last 11 season openers.
• Alabama is 63-8 when opening the season at home.
• UA is 21-3 in home season openers at Coleman Coliseum. Those three losses have come to Cornell in 2009, Mercer in 2008 and Chattanooga in 1993
Anthony Grant is 5-1 in season openers going 3-0 at VCU and 17-2 overall in his coaching career as a head and assistant coach. The only other loss came in his first season as an assistant coach at Stetson in 1993-94. 

Alabama Picked To Finish Sixth In SEC
• The Alabama men’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the Southeastern Conference this season, as voted on by the league’s media in the annual preseason media poll. The Crimson Tide received 222 points in the voting.
• Alabama returns eight letterwinners and four starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad. Highlighting the returners is junior point guard Trevor Releford, who was a 2011-12 second team All-SEC selection. Releford returns as the Tide’s leading scorer, after posting 12.0 points per game a year ago. He also averaged 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the Tide as a sophomore.
• Other returning starters include guards Trevor Lacey, Andrew Steele and Levi Randolph. Lacey returns as the team’s second leading scorer, after averaging 7.3 points per game as a freshman. Steele averaged 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds, while Randolph chipped in with 6.5 points and 3.9 boards per game.
• Last year, Nick Jacobs started 15 games for Alabama as a freshman and averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 boards and fellow freshman Rodney Cooper started 14 times and averaged 5.1 points per outing. 

Releford Leading the Way in Steals
• Junior point guard Trevor Releford was a large reason why the Crimson Tide ranked in the top two in the SEC in steals.
• Releford was second in the league in steals with 2.0 per game in 2011-12.
• In SEC games, Releford was even more active averaging 2.5 steals per game. The next closest defender, Arkansas’ Julysses Nobles, averaged 2.0 steals per game.
• Releford recorded five or more steals three times in 2011-12 and twice in the final 10 games.
• Releford’s 124 career steals narrowly ranks outside the top 10 all-time at Alabama along with JaMychal Green’s 125.
• Releford’s 64 steals in 2011-12 exceed his total from 2010-11 and ranks fourth all-time in single-season steals at Alabama just ahead of Latrell Sprewell. 

Foreign Connection
• The Alabama men’s basketball team will have an international flair on this year’s team.
• Three members of the 2012-13 squad come from a foreign country: Junior centers Carl Engstrom (Ystad, Sweden) and Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal) and redshirt freshman guard Retin Obasohan (Antwerp, Belgium). 

Defense By Possession
• Defensive scoring averages are subject in large part to pace and style of play. However, calculating the points allowed per possession can give a more accurate evaluation of a defense’s effectiveness.
• Alabama was 11th in the nation in points allowed per possession at 0.90 points per possession allowed.
• In 2010-11, Alabama allowed 0.88 points per possession, the third-best average in the nation. 

Steele Back For Fifth Season
• Senior guard Andrew Steele is back for a fifth season and is the lone senior on the 2012-13 squad. Steele made an unexpected return to the Crimson Tide’s roster in 2011-12, prior to the game at Georgia Tech (1/3/12).
• In June 2011, Steele announced his intent to end his competitive career due to lingering post-concussion symptoms from a concussion sustained in the 2011 SEC Tournament game against Kentucky. As a result, he did not participate in the Tide’s 2011 NIT games.
• Since mid-summer of 2011, the 6-4, 225-pound guard experienced no post-concussion symptoms and remained with the team as a student-coach. Further evaluations and tests by the team’s medical staff determined that Steele was able to return action.
• As the symptoms disappeared, he started participating in practices with no ill effects and on Jan. 2, 2012, he and Anthony Grant announced Steele’s intent to return to the active roster.
• As Steele has been since his first diagnosis, he will continue to be closely monitored and evaluated by the Alabama sports medicine staff and team doctors.
• Steele played in 19 games during the 2011-12 season, making 10 starts. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 25.6 minutes a game a year ago.

Coach Anthony Grant Quotes
“We’re excited about opening up the season tomorrow. First of all let me say this, it is an honor to be involved in this tournament, The Wounded Warrior Project. A part of what they do with the tournament, is select a wounded warrior for us. We have a gentleman by the name of Bradley Ford that will be attending our games; he’s a native of Dadeville, Ala. He spent 20 years in the military, was wounded in 2005 in Iraq and sustained several injuries. With Veterans Day coming up next week and to be able to honor those who serve our country the way Bradley has, I think it is a privilege to be involved with this classic and with this game, so we are looking forward to meeting him. I had a chance to talk to him on the phone, he’s been a life-long Alabama fan and certainly someone I have a lot of respect for, just listening to his story."

“In regards to our team, we’re excited about opening up the season. South Dakota State, after having a chance to watching them on film, I’m extremely impressed with them. You look at what they were able to accomplish last year; winning their league, advanced into the NCAA Tournament, and playing Baylor in a great, highly contested game. They are returning 4 starters back off of that team, a lot of veteran players return as well. [They are] a very, very talented team. Their point guard is probably a Preseason Player of the Year, potential All-American candidate. He’s an excellent player, kind of reminds me of a kid I coached at VCU by the Name of Eric Maynor, A lot of the same qualities except he [Nate Wolters] is a little bit bigger at 6-4. He really affects the game, helps his team and makes the game easier for his teammates. They’ve got some veteran guys around him, really impressed with how they shoot the basketball. I think they have 3 guys on their team that shot somewhere between 45-50% from the 3 point line. They have good size, tough team. It will be a great challenge for our guys from a defensive standpoint, to be able to contain them. From an offensive standpoint, being able to find quality shots and do the things that we need to do to put ourselves in a position to win.”