Feb. 1, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The fifth-ranked Alabama gymnastics team returns to the road this weekend, taking on No. 8 Georgia Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in Stegeman Coliseum. It will be the two-time defending NCAA Champions only Saturday meet of the 2013 regular season.
It will also be the Crimson Tide's first trip to Athens since the 2011 season, when head coach Sarah Patterson and company came away with a 197.675-197.225 win on the way to the fifth of their six national championships.
"They'll have a big crowd," Patterson said. "We'll probably be their biggest crowd of the season. We'll have to perform under pressure on the last event because if we perform like we did last week on balance beam, we will not have the opportunity to win the meet. So we'll have to step up our game a bit."
Alabama is 3-0-0 on the season, with all three meets coming against Southeastern Conference competition. Despite the perfect record, the Tide has had to count a fall in its team total in its last two meets.
"After Friday's meet, our ladies came back on Sunday and had a remarkable practice," Patterson said. "They did exceptionally well and that's what you want - you want to see people take their mistakes and motivate them to do better."
Under first-year head coach Danna Durante, the Bulldogs are coming off of a fourth place finish in last week's Metroplex Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas. They currently hold a 4-4 overall record and a 2-0 mark against SEC competition.
The Tide arrives in Athens following last Friday's home win over Kentucky in UA's annual Power of Pink meet. Junior Kim Jacobtook home her third straight all-around title of the season, scoring a 39.275. Jacob also posted career-best marks on the uneven bars (9.9) and floor exercise (9.925), winning both.
Alabama posted season-high scores of 49.4 on the uneven bars and 49.350 on the floor exercise against the Wildcats after scoring a season-high 49.450 on the vault the week before against LSU. As the team has worked on taking steps forward on all the events in practice this week, it has focused on the balance beam in particular.
"We're going to the balance beam for our last event on Saturday and we're going to have to be at the top of our game if we want to come away with a win," Patterson said. "So this week in practice, we worked on pressure situations and tried to simulate the atmosphere we'll find in Athens."
Since 1987, Alabama and Georgia have combined for more 16 NCAA titles, with the last two belonging to the Crimson Tide.
"Over the years, if we were going to win a national championship, we had to get past them and if they were going to win one, they had to get past us and I don't think that has changed," Patterson said. "I think that has been a key part of the rivalry."
Saturday's meet will be televised on a tape delayed basis on Fox Sports Network. It will also be broadcast live on WVUA-Radio 90.7 FM in the Tuscaloosa area as well as on the internet via wvuafm.ua.edu. Fans can follow along via Twitter @BamaGymnastics and on Facebook at BamaGymnastics. Live scoring and a link to the radio broadcast will also be available on RollTide.com.