Dec. 4, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season as it hosts the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday night. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide (6-1) dropped a heartbreaker last Saturday when it fell, 58-56, at then-No. 16 Cincinnati. The Bearcats' Cashmere Wright drained a 15-foot fade-away jumper over the outstretched arm of seven-footer Moussa Gueye just as the buzzer sounded to lift his team to the victory.
"We're looking forward to getting the opportunity to get back on the court," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "Obviously, [we're] coming off a tough loss on the road. I think the game at Cincinnati gave our team an opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves in terms of what we do well and areas where we need improve."
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey led UA with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the losing effort. He comes into the Dayton match-up third on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), and leads the squad in assists (3.8 rpg) and total steals (13).
Junior guard Trevor Releford continues to pace the Tide with an average of 17.5 points, which ranks third in the Southeastern Conference, and 2.2 steals a game. Releford (52.2 percent) and Lacey (46.9 percent)also rank first and second, respectively, in the SEC in three-point shooting
Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper (14.5 ppg) is the third Tide player to average double figures and leads the team with 4.3 rebounds per game.
Dayton comes into Wednesday night's contest sporting a 5-2 record on the season, which includes wins in four of its last five contests. The game at Alabama will mark the Flyers' first true road game of the 2012-13 campaign.
Senior guard Kevin Dillard leads four Dayton players in double figures with an average of 13.9 ppg. He also tops the team in assists (4.0), three-point shooting (40.7 percent) and steals (1.3 spg).
Junior guard Vee Sanford (11.7 ppg), senior forward Josh Benson (10.6 ppg) and junior forward Devin Oliver (10.6 ppg) also average in double figures on the season. Oliver also tops the team in rebounds (8.0) and minutes (30.9) per game.
Wednesday's contest marks the second year in a row the two teams will meet on the hardwood, and the third time overall (series tied, 1-1). Almost a year ago to the day (Dec. 7, 2011), Dayton captured a 74-62 home victory over Alabama.
"We're playing a team in Dayton that is extremely impressive when you look at what they have been able to accomplish, the competition they've played against and the success that they've had over the course of the season," Grant said. "Our experience last year, at their place, and the way that turned out for us, I think our guys have a tremendous respect for Dayton and the program that they have, and [we're] looking forward to the competition here tomorrow."
The game will be televised CSS and can also be heard live on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can also follow the action on the official twitter site of Alabama men's basketball @AlabamaMBB.
Fans will also get to see a high-flying trampoline act called "Flippenout" at halftime. In addition, any student who sit in the lower seats or in the risers on the floor will be given free pizza, while supplies last.
HEAD COACH Anthony Grant QUOTES
On what his team can do better and learn from the loss at Cincinnati:
"Areas that we need to get better at is taking care of the basketball, which we've talked about that before, and our transition offense and decision making. I thought we had opportunities to build upon leads that we had [at Cincinnati], or cut into leads that they had, that we let slip away, so things like that and offensive execution have to get better. From a defensive standpoint, we had opportunities. I thought we did a pretty good job, in the first half, of rebounding the basketball. They hurt us in the second half with some second chance points and some loose balls. Those are things as a team that we've talked about that we will need to get better at as the season progresses. But that's what you want to do early on in the year is figure out where you need to get better as a team. I think our guys understand that. Obviously disappointed with the loss, but I think we look at it as a learning opportunity and we can move forward from there."
On if it's just another game Coach Grant with Dayton being his alma mater:
"I think the things that I've always said as a coach is that every time we prepare, it's never about me. For me, it's about preparing our team for a very good opponent. I have a lot of respect for [Dayton] Coach [Archie] Miller and the job that he's done in that program in his short tenure. I thought last year, he did a great job. Not only in our game, the way he prepared for us and the energy and passion that those guys played with, but throughout the season. I think my focus is on, how can I best prepare our guys to be ready to go try and win a game. Everything else is secondary."
On if it's a big deal for Dayton to play against an SEC team:
"If you look at their schedule, they've played Boston College, which is an ACC team, and beat them. They played Auburn and beat them. [They] played Colorado, who's in the top 25, and had success against them, but didn't win the game. I think in today's day-and-age you have good teams all over the place in different conferences, so I don't think this will be anything that will be a new experience for them. My anticipation is that they will come in here expecting to win and playing to win so our guys have to understand that and be prepared for what's getting ready to happen."
SOPHOMORE GUARD Trevor Lacey
On the strengths and weaknesses of the team so far:
"Like coach [Grant] said, we have to rebound and get on loose balls. That's what really kills us and let teams stay in the game with us. When we're up and we can finish them off, we get beat in transition or they get second chance buckets and just chip away at our lead."
On last year's game against Dayton:
"It was very loud. I remember I didn't hear a play that we called. They took us out of every set we tried to run, and from the jump. They just outplayed us the whole game. We made runs, but we just never could overcome the deficit. I know they still have some of the guys they had last year and they're going to try to come into our building and do the same thing."