Nov. 30, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will put its undefeated record on the line when it travels to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT). The contest, which will be the Crimson Tide's first true road game this season, is being played as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge.
"We are excited to be part of the SEC-Big East Challenge," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "This is the sixth year of the challenge and second year of this format. When you look at the two conferences, they are certainly two of the premier conferences in the country. I think in the last six or seven years you're talking about four national championships between them, three won by the SEC. You look at the success that the Big East has enjoyed in the postseason, as well. We are excited to have a chance to participate in this event and we are looking forward to the challenge of facing a tough Cincinnati team."
Alabama is off to a 6-0 start to the season following the 75-47 victory over Lamar last Tuesday night. With two of the top players out of the lineup against the Cardinals in Trevor Releford (illness) and Andrew Steele (groin), the Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish first half before blowing the game open with a 21-4 run early in the second half.
Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper came off the bench to lead UA with 17 points, while also recording career-highs in rebounds (8) and assists (3). He comes into the Cincinnati match-up second on the team in scoring (15.8 ppg), and leads the squad in rebounds (4.8 rpg) and offensive rebounds per game (2.8).
Releford continues to pace the Tide with an average of 18.6 points, which ranks second in the Southeastern Conference, and 2.0 steals a game, Over the last two games he has played, the Kansas City, Mo., native has accounted for 47 points (23.5 ppg), and has shot 15-of-25 (.600) from the floor and 10-of-13 (.769) from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey (14.8 ppg) also average in double figures and leads the team with 4.2 assists per game (24 assists and nine turnovers).
Like Alabama, Cincinnati also comes into the contest with an unbeaten record (6-0), most recently capturing a 77-66 win over Oregon on Nov. 24, to claim the Global Sports Classic championship.
The Bearcats are led by junior guard Sean Kilpatrick, who averages a team-leading 21.8 points a game, to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest. Senior guards Cashmere Wright (16.5 ppg) and JaQuon Parker (10.5 ppg) also average in double figures.
"I am impressed watching (Cincinnati's) team with the success that they have had over the course of the season," Grant said. "You're looking at a team that is a veteran team. Seven of their top nine are juniors and seniors and they are really impressive, especially when you look at the numbers from a defensive standpoint. It will be a great test for our team. Were excited about the opportunity to go up to Cincinnati and compete."
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. It can also be heard live in Tuscaloosa on 99.1 FM and on Sirius channels 132 and 196, with Mick Gillispie and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can also follow the action on the official twitter site of Alabama men's basketball @AlabamaMBB.