TUSCALOOSA Finals week begins Monday on campus at the University of Alabama, but the Crimson Tide basketball team will take its first test of the week on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama, 4-3, plays Nicholls State at noon in Coleman Coliseum. Fans already holding tickets to that game are reminded that the tickets were printed prior to television picking up the game so the time printed on the ticket is incorrect. The game will be carried, live, on CSS (Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast) at noon CT. Tom Roberts will call the play-by-play for CSS while Wendell Hudson will be the analyst.
The game marks the first time Alabama and the Colonels have played one another in basketball. But it’s the second time in seven days that Alabama has played a team from the Southland Conference as it hosted and defeated Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday, December 1.
Nicholls State is 2-6 going into the game with a schedule that has included trips to LSU, Cal, UC Davis and Florida State, among others. Seven of its eight games have been on the road, including its last six. It won in its most recent trip, a 75-60 win at New Orleans last Saturday.
“They are a very dangerous team the way they play,” said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried whose Alabama teams are 122. They don’t really play with a true post player. They play five guards-type-guys. A lot of their action is around the 3-point line which makes it hard to match-up for our big players. They’ve shown at times they’ve made a lot of three’s. They are very deliberate the way they play. So it’s a style that we just have to be very well-prepared for.”
Alabama comes into the game after playing Top 5 ranked Georgetown close on Wednesday night in Birmingham at the Pizza Hut SEC/Big East Invitational. Because of Saturday’s early tip, it makes for a quick turnaround for the Tide who is hoping to snap back from the 70-60 loss.
“I feel like we played pretty good against Georgetown,” said Alabama sophomore starting forward Demetrius Jemison of Birmingham who averages 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds. “Our effort was good. We executed pretty well. But at certain points of the game, we had some meltdowns on defense. We gave up an open look on a 3-pointer here and there. It came back to hurt us in the end. But I think we played an overall good game. We had the effort to win it but just couldn’t get it done.
“I feel like it’s important for us to get back on a roll and get some wins under our belt so we can have confidence going into SEC play in January. So I think these next couple of weeks are crucial. We need to get some wins, get our confidence back, and get ready for SEC play.”
Because it is final exams week at the University of Alabama, the Tide does not play again after the December 8 Nicholls State game until December 17 when it plays host to Wofford in the first round of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic. Two nights later, on December 19, Alabama plays Texas Pan-American in Tuscaloosa in the second round before heading to Las Vegas for games on December 22 and December 23 against first Missouri State and then either Purdue or Iowa State.
“I think it’s important to have a good performance all the time but you hate not to when you have seven or eight days before you play again,” said Gottfried.” But I just want our team to keep improving. I think there are certain areas, whether it’s getting the right shots at right times, execution in your offense. Probably that more than anything, that’s where we’ve got to improve. I think at times we do things very well but at other times we seem to get impatient and take quick shots. Although we’re worrying about Nicholls State, we’re also trying to concern ourselves with improving our team as well.