Men's Hoops Set For Showdown At Texas Tech Wednesday Night
Dec. 18, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will look to snap a three-game losing streak when it travels to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. It will be the final non-conference road game of the season for the Crimson Tide.
The contest will be televised on ESPN3 and can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call.
"Texas Tech plays similar to VCU from a defensive standpoint," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "They are going to press a lot. I think they are forcing 19 turnovers a game. They play very fast offensively, meaning after a missed shot or made basket, they are going to get the ball down the court fast. We have to be able to be able to take care of the basketball and execute offensively. We also have to get back defensively to prevent them from scoring in transition. It's a similar prep to what we just faced."
After beginning the season with six wins in November, the Crimson Tide (6-3) have lost three straight games to start the month of December. In order to snap that streak, Alabama will have to do better when it comes to taking care of the ball. In its last three contests, the Tide is averaging 14.0 turnovers per contest, including a season-high 18 miscues in the loss at VCU last Saturday.
Alabama continues to be led by a trio of guards in junior Trevor Releford and sophomores Rodney Cooper and Trevor Lacey. Releford tops the team in points (15.9 ppg) and steals (17). He is also one of the top three-point shooters (44.8 percent) and free throw shooters (89.5 percent) in the Southeastern Conference.
Cooper is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game, and also leads the team with 4.7 rebounds a contest. Meanwhile, Lacey contributes 13.4 ppg and tops the team in assists per game (3.8) and threes made (19). His 45.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc leads Alabama and ranks second in the SEC.
Texas Tech (5-2) comes into the contest having dropped two of its last three games, most recently falling at home to McNeese State, 80-75, on Sunday. Wednesday's match-up will mark the eighth consecutive home game for the Red Raiders this season.
Junior forward Jaye Crocket leads a trio of Texas Tech players who average in double-figures, pouring in 15.6 points per game. Crocket also leads the team in rebounds per game (8.6), field goal percentage (64.1 percent) and free throw percentage (79.3 percent).
Freshman guard Josh Gray (11.9 ppg) and junior forward Dejan Kravic (11.3 ppg) also average double-digits for Texas Tech. Gray tops the squad in assists (2.9) and steals (3.0) per game, while Kravic is the Red Raiders' top shot-blocker with 11 swats this season.
As a team, Texas Tech comes into its game with Alabama ranked fourth in the country in steals, averaging 11.6 takeaways a contest. The Red Raiders also rank 19th nationally in points per game (80.3) and are 23rd in turnover margin (4.4).
Alabama and Texas Tech will play for the seventh time in series history, with the Crimson Tide owning a 5-1 advantage in games played between the two teams.
Wednesday night's contest marks the first time the Tide and Red Raiders have squared off in nearly 30 years. The last meeting between the two schools on the hardwood came on Dec. 18, 1983 in a tournament which was played in Osaka, Japan.
Fans can also follow the live action with in-game tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.
Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant Quotes
On his thoughts after watching film from the VCU game:
"There was a lot for us that didn't go well in the game. The thing you look back on is offensively, we really struggled to handle VCU's pressure. They did a great job of taking us out of our actions. When we did get shots, we didn't do a good job of converting them. They really hurt us in transition. VCU is really good of turning their defensive stops into offensive opportunities. We also dug a hole for ourselves offensively. We were able to have more success offensively in the second half, but we had a tough time of stopping them on the defensive end of the floor. I think fatigue was a little bit of a factor for us in the second half. You have to give VCU credit because a lot of what we struggled with in that game, they had a lot to do with in the waves that they are able to throw at you."
On importance of starting well:
"The way we have started in games this season has been a problem for us. We have to do a better job in that aspect. There are a lot of things as a basketball team that we need to improve on. The challenging non-conference schedule that we are playing gives us a chance to figure out some areas we need to get better in and what we need to do differently. This game will be another challenge for us.
"We have to get better as a basketball team. I tell the guys that basketball is a game of habits. When we won six in a row, there are some things winning brings in terms of a confidence level, but there are also some things that get put under the shadows a little bit - areas that we need to improve. If you don't get better in those areas, then you will eventually get exposed. Now we lose three in a row, and those things now get heightened. I tell our guys it's all about getting better. We are nine games into the season. We have a lot of basketball left to be played and we have to get better as a team in a lot of different ways and that's what we've tried to do."
On half-court offense:
"It hasn't been very good. I think there are some things we need to do differently. We need to play better, both individually and collectively. There are times when we do a good job and there are times when we really struggle.
"Every possession in basketball is different. There are some possessions we take shots too early and there are some possessions when we hold the ball too long. It's not just one consistent thing we are doing wrong. We have to be able to take care of the basketball, get quality shots and be able to understand who we are and what we do best. We have to figure those things out on a more consistent basis in order to have success."