Monday, February 08, 2016

Congratulations Retin Obasohan!

For the second time this season, Retin has been named the SEC Player of the week!  He's making a strong case for All Conference honors.  Keep up the great work, Retin, we need you down the stretch!

Quick look... our road to the NCAA Tournament

Games we have left:

02/10/16 vs. Texas A&M 6:00 p.m.
02/13/16 at Florida 4:30 p.m.
02/17/16 at LSU 8:00 p.m. 
02/20/16 vs. Miss State1:30 p.m.
02/23/16 at Kentucky 6:00 p.m.
02/27/16 vs. Auburn4:00 p.m. 
03/02/16 vs. Arkansas 8:00 p.m. 
03/05/16 at Georgia 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Tide Traumatizes Timid Tigers, Bama 80 Mizzou 71

Bama built a big lead behind balanced scoring and great defense to cruise to an easy victory over the SEC's worst team.  The is the only team we will play in conference that we will have a clear advantage over in talent.  Nevertheless, coming off the big overtime win on the road and with a top 25 ranked opponent looming next week, this easily could have been a trap game.  Instead, the team was focused and took care of business.

It was nice to see Mike Kessens get the start and play well after being injured in Starkville.  Shannon Hale did not play but my understanding is that he was cleared and was available if necessary.  Justin Coleman is still battling through turf toe but seems to be adjusting to it at least, and everybody should be good to go Wednesday night.

We actually took advantage of our size advantage in the post for a change.  Mike had a nice game with 8 points and 5 rebounds.  Jimmie also played well with 11 points and 5 rebounds.  Donta didn't score, but I thought he had an excellent game with 6 rebounds, played great defense with 4 blocks, and perhaps most encouraging, managed to play for 20 minutes and only pick up one foul.

Retin is continuing his push for All Conference honors with another 16 points and 7 rebounds performance.  Riley had another great game with 18 points and played well on both ends of the floor.  His game has improved tremendously over the course of the season, and he should be commended for really stepping up in Hale's absence.  Justin Coleman continued his hot streak despite the nagging injury, scoring 14 points.  Art Edwards was also in double figures with 11.

"Hey Ref, You Stink!"

This game was not as close as the final score indicated.  We led by 12 at halftime and stretched the lead to 24 in the second half, and maintained a 15+ point lead throughout most of the game.  With both of our walk ons in the game in the final minutes, Mizzou was able to make it respectable.  We took the air out of the ball with about 3:30 remaining.  Speaking of the walk-ons, Lawson Schaffer gave us a few minutes in both halves of the game again.  

The baseball stadium was hosting an alumni game in the newly renovated Sewell-Thomas stadium before the game.  We walked through briefly, and my impressions are that they did a good job with the Joe.  The canopy on the top was extended so that nearly all the infield seats are now covered.  Lots of suites and press box area expansion.  The bleachers down the left field line appear to have been reduced to just a few rows of actual seats now, but the outfield pavilion in right field appears to be expanded and is now connected to the main part of the stadium.  The concourse was expanded, and the crimson seats replaced with a more aesthetically pleasing green.  

As for the basketball game, the crowd was really disappointing.  It was announced as a "sell out," but even after the athletic department announced it as a sell out on Friday, I went to out of curiosity and was able to find quite a few seats were still available.  I would estimate about 12,000 or so, which is a decent crowd, but well sort of a "sell out."  The empty seats among the season ticket holders is well documented, but I am curious as to who is buying the crappy upper corner tickets and not showing up?  

Up next, the Texas A&M Aggies come to Tuscaloosa for an early 6pm tipoff Wednesday night.  The Aggies are currently ranked number 8, but sure to fall due to their 2 game losing streak with losses at Vandy and at home to South Carolina.  Still, they will be ranked and are arguably the best team in the conference.  They've lost 2 in a row, and we've won 2 in a row.  If that trends continues, we will suddenly be in decent shape to give ourselves a reason to watch selection sunday!  I know the tip-off crowd is inconvenient, but we really need a legit "sell out" crowd for this one.  Do what you have to do to get there.  Skip church, leave work early, whatever it takes, this game is important.  The game will be televised on SEC Network.  

Friday, February 05, 2016

Game Preview - Missouri

Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum for a 2-game home stand, beginning tomorrow at 2:00 with a match-up against the Missouri Tigers. The game has been announced as a sellout, but will also be televised on the SEC Network for those unable to attend. Both teams currently occupy a place among the bottom four teams in the conference standings, but, while there is energy and optimism within the Alabama program in year one under Avery Johnson, the feeling around the Missouri program is decidedly more dire as the program is undergoing a second year of rebuilding under head coach Kim Anderson. That rebuilding process has been made even more difficult by a self-imposed postseason ban that is related to an NCAA investigation into the program during the Frank Haith tenure.



67.4 PPG 67.1
67.7 OPP 70.5
.427 FG% .418
.402 OPP .419
49.9 EFG% 46.7
46.1 OPP 48.4
.334 3PT% .306
.329 OPP .349
.653 FT% .709
.675 OPP .699
40.0 FTRATE 40.0
38.3 OPP 38.8
35.3 RPG 34.8
38.0 OPP 36.7
28.2 OREB% 26.3
33.6 OPP 30.1
14.3 TOPG 12.4
13.0 OPP 12.0
21.0 TO% 18.0
19.2 OPP 17.5

There isn't one player on this Missouri team that will dominate the scouting report, but that doesn't mean they're a well-oiled, balanced scoring machine either; they are 8-14 (1-8) in league play for a reason. Not a great shooting team, they routinely go through scoring droughts that make them vulnerable to runs by their opponent and, as a result, find themselves frequently playing from behind (gee, where have we heard that before?), while lacking the defensive efficiency (currently ranked 150 by KenPom) to fight their way back into position to have a chance to win.

One player that has impressed me when watching Missouri is freshman Terrence Phillips (5'11, 175). Phillips is 4th on the team in scoring (8.3), but he leads the team in assists (3.0), and is the 2nd best 3-point shooter on the team (.359%). But it is the consistent energy and toughness he displays that impresses me most, and leads me to believe he will be a really good player for this Missouri program if he sticks around.

Phillips will likely be tasked with trying to slow down the "Belgian Bulldozer" along with Wes Clark (Jr. 6'0, 180 lbs), the leader of this Missouri team. Clark, a former 4 star recruit, has loyally toughed it out with the Mizzou program through this difficult time. Injuries have plagued Clark during his time in Columbia, but he's having a solid junior campaign (10.6 ppg, 2.9 apg, 39% 3-pt, 82% FT) and could present some problems for Alabama if his shot is falling. Other notable players for Mizzou include Kevin Puryear (10.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Namon Wright (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

I don't believe in this day and age of parity in college basketball that one should take any game for granted, particularly in conference play. But there is simply no excuse should Alabama lose this game tomorrow to a Missouri team with one conference win, in the confines of Coleman Coliseum, in front of an expected sellout crowd. What small postseason hopes remain for Bama would likely be dashed should they lose this game so they need to approach it with a continued sense of urgency. Alabama will have the best player on the floor (Retin), a size advantage (only one Mizzou player available for tomorrow's game is 6'8 or taller) that should allow them to attack the rim at will, and better efficiency numbers on both ends of the court.

The major concern for Alabama entering this game is the health of the roster. Justin Coleman is expected to play despite struggling with turf toe, but Avery said today in his press conference that they were preparing as if they won't have Mike and Shannon available. Assuming both guys are not available tomorrow, that puts pressure on other guys (Justin, Riley, Art and Brandon) to step up as they did in Starkville. Jimmie and Donta also need to play well in this game. Their size advantage will present opportunities for each on both ends of the floor, but they must play smart and avoid foul trouble. Donta, in particular is primed for a massive game if he can just stay out of foul trouble. It's simple: if Alabama plays their usual A game on defense, and can find a way to limit turnovers, they should enjoy back-to-back wins for the first time in league play.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Sleeping with the Enemy, Mizzou Tigers

I reached out to Chris Bohkay over at Rock M Nation and asked him to tell us a bit about Mizzou and get his thoughts on the game.  His response is below.  If you visit Rock M Nation, please follow the rules of their site and be a positive representative of the University of Alabama.

Mizzou, well Mizzou is not a very good team right now, and frankly hasn't been for two years now. The team that went 9-22 was extremely young last year and then its best player, Jonathan Williams III transferred to Gonzaga citing chemistry issues as the main reason. Add onto that that promising freshman Montaque Gill-Caeser opted to transfer as well and you had a young team get even younger.  But there was optimism with a promising group of freshman coming in, and the expectation that the then freshman would progress in their sophomore year. No one was expecting a tournament bid or even a sniff of the NIT but a .500 record or close to it seem possible.  None of this has come to pass. The freshman are doing their best out there and have shown flashes of potential and in a few years you could see this group as being the foundation on which attractive basketball will be played again. The sophomores on the other hand seem to have not progressed since last year in any way, and that's why the team is where it is.  Throw on top of that recent self enforced sanctions following the Frank Haith era and it's not a great time to be a Mizzou fan.

Right now, Mizzou does not do much well, they are undersized so teams are able have their way under the basket and if there's a loose ball, it's probably going to fall into the hands of their opponent. Shooting has been dreadful, though they did show signs of life against Ole Miss the other night, hitting close to 50% of their three pointers. On the defensive side of things, they are not going to turn you over, won't block your shot, but they will defend your two point shots decently well. 
Mizzou's biggest weakness it seems is consistency, they've played maybe one full game well, and that's a maybe. They are prone to giving up big runs and not being able to respond to them thus putting themselves so far behind the eight ball that once they get themselves straightened out, they're down 10. And with a team that has trouble shooting the ball and no real go to scorer, that spells trouble. And as noted above, the team has real trouble rebounding, they're probably shorter than every other team in the SEC at this point and it's showing.

If I were a Bama fan, be sure to watch Wes Clark because how he goes, so go the Tigers. If he can get his shot going, and anyone else joins in then Mizzou can give you a game, but if it's him by himself or he has an off night, they're in trouble.  I've watched the Tide a few times this year and what has struck me is how competitive they've been, I think all of our heads turned when they got those big wins in November over Wichita State (minus VanVleet, but still) and Notre Dame. This team looks like a group that needed a change of scenery so to speak, the move from Grant (who I always really liked) to Johnson seems to have ignited your upperclassmen driven team. What has been surprising as  fan of a team that has to play a lot of freshman and sophomores is how few seem to be contributing this season for the Tide. It looks like Johnson has built on Grants strong defense and added some offensive punch that was sorely lacking for your team the past two years and that's probably where this game will be won.  

Looking at the game itself, it looks very tough for Mizzou. It's on the road where the team hasn't won since 2014, you guys have a tremendous defense and Mizzou has trouble scoring. It's last few road contests (not counting Kentucky, lets not mention that game) Mizzou has shown well staying in games until late and I think that's the case on Saturday. Mizzou stays within reach until about the 6 or 7 minute mark and then Bama pulls away, thinking a score 66 - 55 Alabama.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time to give us an insightful response.  Obviously, we also struggle with our post play and rebounding, so both teams may have difficulty taking advantage of the other's weaknesses.  The key for us will be to be less bad than them in the paint, shoot the ball well, and defend Clark and the perimeter.  Mizzou has some of the nicest facilities in the SEC and access to some of the most fertile recruiting grounds.  They will be back, but they have a long way to go.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bama's Belgian Bulldozer Beats Bulldogs Brains in. Alabama 82 Mississippi $tate 80.

Alabama overcame injuries, 20 turnovers, and more poor free throw shooting to get a huge road win in Starkville.

Let me start with what I admit will come across as an old man "get off my lawn" comment.  I hate this trend of teams not wearing the proper colors.  You can't turn on a random game and know which team is which anymore.  Obviously, it's not a problem when it's your team playing, but suppose someone on the west coast that knew nothing about our teams tuned into the game last night.  They would have seen Mississippi State, who's colors are maroon, wearing black jerseys.  The bigger issue, is that the home team should always wear white in basketball, but since $tate decided to go with the black jerseys, we were wearing white on the road.  I like to quote Coach Saban when teams wear black uniforms for no apparent reason, "they were going to their own funeral."

This was one of our better offensive performances.  We executed our half court sets better than we have all year.  It helps that we shot the ball well, but I believe that was a direct result of the great spacing and ball movement.  Defensively, our bigs had no answer for Gavin Ware, but the guards did a fantastic job against Weatherspoon and Newman.  We held the lead through most of the first half and led 38-34 at halftime.

Give $tate some credit for making some adjustments in the second half.  Our shooting went cold as our offense became stagnant, and the Bulldogs went on a huge run to take a 7 point lead with 5 minutes remaining.  This team never gives up as Riley, Retin, and Justin all hit big 3s down the stretch to force the game into overtime.

The end of regulation was a real cluster-you-know-what.  We used a timeout with about 25 seconds to play, and should have held the ball for the last shot.  Instead, Retin was called for a charge with 10 seconds left.  Mistakenly thinking we had a foul to give, we intentionally fouled them a couple of seconds later, which was our 7th team foul.  The announcers also thought we had a foul to give initially, so I am assuming the scoreboard operators in Starkville likely did not put Retin's charge, which was our 6th team foul, on the board.  Of course, the scoreboard is not official, it's what is in the book that counts.    If the foul was not put on the board, it was incompetence at best or a Busch league move at worst by $tate's clock operator, neither of which should be surprising.  Regardless, it's an inexcusable mistake by our coaching staff that could have very easily cost us the game.  I don't entirely fault Coach Johnson, he's trying to make a quick decision and probably just looked up at the board, but we must have an assistant coach or a graduate assistant responsible for keeping up with fouls, and they should have alerted the head coach before we were able to foul there.  Thankfully they clanked the front end of the one and one and we went on to overtime.

I did not agree with our decision to stay in a zone defense with a 3 point lead at the end of the game, but thankfully MSU inexplicably decided to pass up open 3 point looks to go inside on their last 2 possessions.

Retin was clearly the MVP, making some miraculous shots in crunch time and scoring 25 points with 8 assists in 43 minutes, but we don't win that game without Riley Norris stepping up.  With Hale out with an injury, Riley had to deliver his A-game on both ends of the floor.  He came through with 16 points going 4 of 8 from the 3-point range.  Unfortunately, he was also only 4 of 8 from the free throw line, and we were 17 of 27 as a team.  Justin Coleman also had a big game despite battling turf toe.  He scored 15 points on 3 of 5 shooting from 3 point range including the game winning shot and made some clutch free throws at the end.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I liked him at the 2 guard with Retin running point.

Art Edwards had a nice game as well with 12 points, and I liked that we used him as a cutter to get him some open looks inside moving toward the basket.  It was a nice new wrinkle in our half-court sets versus exclusively trying to set him up on the perimeter to stretch the defense.

Jimmie Taylor played a little better offensively, scoring 8 points, but he was horrific on defense against Ware.  We are lucky $tate's guards were content with jacking up 3s, where they were just 3 of 18 for the game, for long stretches of time without working the ball inside.  I'm a little surprised Donta Hall only played 6 minutes.  He managed to pull down 4 rebounds, but also picked up a couple of fouls.  Lawson Schaffer gave us a couple of minutes, and was in the game at the end to possibly shoot free throws.  It says a lot that Coach Johnson trusts him not to turn the ball over in that situation.

Speaking of turnovers, we continue to have way too many unforced errors.  As noted above, free throw shooting is a major concern, and we desperately need to get more production in the post.

Unfortunately, injuries are continuing to pile up.  Hale re-injured his foot and missed the game, and will likely miss the Mizzou game as well.  Kessens went down with another knee injury.  Avery Jr. said on periscope after the game that Mike would be back "in a few days," but I have also heard that the injury looked much more serious at the game.

It's no secret how much I dislike $tate, but I have to say I was impressed by the effort from their current players.  Both teams battled hard, and as their young talent matures as well as whoever else Howland buys, they are going to be a force in the coming years.  I expect this rivalry to intensify back to levels of the Gottfried v. $tansfield era.

With the win, we currently have an RPI of 51.  This was a huge win for our hopes of getting an NIT bid.  I think we are likely in the NIT if we just win our remaining home games with the exception of Texas A&M.  It's highly unlikely, but winning out at home, which would include an upset win over the Aggies, and picking up one more road win somewhere (Georgia?) would probably get us into the NCAA tournament.

Up next, the Mizzou Tigers come to Ttown for a 2 pm tipoff Saturday.  While Mizzou isn't very good, we can't afford a let down.  We are a beat up team right now, and hopefully there will be a strong crowd on hand to give them a boost.  The game will be televised on SEC Network.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Justin Coleman questionable for tonight, Game is still on.

Justin Coleman has not practiced and will be a game time decision.  He is battling turf toe, which would explain his ineffectiveness the last few games.  For a player that relies on his quickness to overcome his lack of size, that is a formidable injury.  Obviously this will put a lot of pressure on Retin, and may even force Lawson Schaffer into the rotation.

Also, much of Alabama and Mississippi are under tornado watches, prompting this from MSU:

Be safe if you are heading over to Starkville.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Game Preview - at Mississippi State

The Alabama men's basketball team will take the short drive down highway 82 to the lovely town of Starkville for a match-up with the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday night. Game time is 8:00. Once again, the SEC Network will be doing the television honors. Ben Howland is in his first season in Starkville. Both programs enter the game in the midst of rebuilding seasons. Any win at this point is big for both teams.


Mississippi State

66.7 PPG 76.4
67.1 OPP 74.1
.425 FG% .465
.398 OPP .438
49.5 EFG% 52.5
45.9 OPP 49.6
.331 3PT% .329
.337 OPP .339
.655 FT% .739
.674 OPP .698
39.6 FTRATE 29.5
39.3 OPP 36.5
35.0 RPG 33.9
38.0 OPP 36.7
27.9 OREB% 29.9
33.6 OPP 34.6
14.0 TOPG 12.5
13.1 OPP 12.8
20.7 TO% 17.7
19.4 OPP 18.1
Gavin Ware (SR. 6'9, 260 lbs) goes about his business quietly. He doesn't get a lot of attention when it comes to discussion of the best players in the league, but the numbers suggest he should. Ware enters Tuesday night leading the Bulldogs in points (15.7 ppg, 62% FG, 76% FT), rebounds (7.3) and blocks (1.3). He missed the last game at Missouri due to concussion symptoms (a 76-62 victory), but I expect him to return for this game. Ware isn't the most athletic big man Alabama has seen, but he's physical and experienced, and he's also developed a very dependable mid-range game. The Bama post players will have to limit Ware's production, while providing some themselves on the offensive end.

Some once considered Malik Newman (FR, 6'3, 190 lbs) a bust when the former 5 star high school recruit got off to a slow start earlier this season. That talk was perhaps premature. In conference play, Newman and fellow freshman, Quinndary Weatherspoon (FR, 6'4, 202) have come alive for this State team. If this Bulldog team finishes strong, the play of Newman (13.7 ppg, 42% from 3) and Weatherspoon (10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 spg) will play a big part. Throw in veteran guys like Craig Sword (12.7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.2 bpg, 1.3 spg) and I.J. Ready (10.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.1 spg), and the Alabama guards are going to be challenged on defense. If State elects to go with four guards along with Ware in the middle, Arthur, Riley and Shannon (not the quickest feet in the league) are going to have their work cut out for them on defense as well. This is one game that Justin, despite his recent struggles, would be needed for big minutes. Unfortunately, he's a game-time decision tomorrow night due to a lingering turf toe. Let's hope that the MSU players prefer the perimeter shot tomorrow. Their speed and quickness could make for a lot of foul calls on defense for Alabama. Unlike South Carolina, State can hurt Bama from the free throw line where they shoot 74% as a team.

At 11-9, 2-6, time is quickly running out for Alabama to put together a postseason resume. As a result, a game like this becomes very important. But this Alabama team has struggled on the road, and if you've watched this Mississippi State team you know they're better than their record (4 of their 6 losses have been by two possessions or less). Again, I think the quickness of the Bulldogs on the perimeter will be an issue for Alabama defensively. To negate that, does Avery go with the zone defense for long stretches of this game in an effort to force State to take and make 3 point shots (they shoot 32% as a team)?

If that is the case, Alabama must limit offensive rebounds out of the zone. I'm looking at you Jimmie, Mike and Donta (Shannon and Riley as well). I think the play of the post players for Alabama will go a long way in deciding this game. I want to see something from Jimmie Taylor. This season has been a grind for Jimmie after ending so well last season. He has been virtually non-existent in several games this season, this past Saturday being the latest example. His body language in the last two games has also been poor, and that's not what this team needs right now. Avery mentioned in his press conference today that he had spoken with Jimmie about doing more as the head coach to help him, but he needs more passion and effort in return from Jimmie. I'm very interested to see how Jimmie responds tomorrow night.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cocks Screw Bama, Carolina 78 Alabama 64

Officiating basketball is a very difficult job.  I officiate at the high school level myself, and I'm hesitant to criticize the officials because I generally believe they are doing the best they can.  In this game, however, there were several obviously bullshit calls that went against us. In fact, I can't recall a single questionable or controversial call going in our favor today.  South Carolina shot an absurd 46 free throws to our 25.  Many of the horrible calls that went against us were key fouls like Retin's 3rd that effected our substitution patterns.  To be clear,  the officiating did not cost us the game.  We lost by 14 points, South Carolina was the better team playing at home and they had guys who stepped up and made the plays needed to win.

I'm normally not an advocate of a coach intentionally drawing a technical foul, but I was a little disappointed Coach Johnson didn't do so tonight.  Our chances of winning were slim anyway, and it was obvious that we were getting the screw job.  It would have been a good opportunity to show the players that you've got their back.

I thought the team actually played very well despite the foul trouble.  We were fortunate that USC only made 28 of their 46 free throws which allowed us to stay in the game.  I thought we out-worked them for a lot of 50/50 balls on the floor, but we were often caught not blocking out which allowed them too many offensive rebounds.

Unlike the game in Tuscaloosa, we were only 6 of 24 from 3 point range. We cut the lead to 6 or 7 a couple of different times in the second half, but couldn't get any closer.  Retin, Jimmy, Mike, and Donta all fouled out.  I kind of  regret not making the trip, I probably could have gotten some playing time.

We played basically the same defense as we did in Tuscaloosa, switching from a zone to a soft man and taking our chances with their jump shots. We did not rebound quite as well, but it was generally effective.  USC was only 6 of 19 from three point range.  The Cocks extended their defense and were committed to not allowing us to shoot 3s like we did in the first meeting.  It worked, as our half court offense really struggled to get anything going.  We really need more of a post presence.

Retin had a great game despite being limited by foul trouble.  He scored 23 points, including 16 straight with 4 fouls that effectively kept us in the game in the second half.  Riley and Shannon both had good games, and I thought Shannon especially stepped up with Retin in foul trouble.  He scored 16 points, but he really needs to find his shot from beyond the arc.  I thought Donta Hall played fairly well despite fouling out with only 4 points.  He had 6 rebounds and was a force defensively.  He really ran the floor well.  Jimmie didn't score and fouled out.  The inconsistent at best production we are getting from him is frustrating, especially considering the promise he showed at the end of last year.  Coleman also struggled again.  I understand he's playing through an injury right now, but his lack of size and strength with the ball at the point is an obvious weakness.  He really needs to find his shot if he's going to help us going forward, and we desperately need him to do so.

Up next, we take the short trip to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State bulldogs at 8 pm Tuesday night.  This is probably the most winnable road game we have left, but State is playing better now and they've at least been competitive in all of their games.  If you are making the trip to Starkville, please be weather aware, as the current forecast indicates a high risk of severe storms for that area Tuesday night.  For those of us who aren't battling the elements ant the late tip, the game will be televised on SEC Network.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Game Preview - at South Carolina

17 days after their last meeting, the Tide and Gamecocks will meet again, this time in Columbia. In that first game our beloved Crimson Tide handed South Carolina its first loss of the season by a score of 73-50. No doubt Carolina will be looking for payback and a win to keep pace at the top of the SEC standings. The game time is 5:00 PM. The game can be seen on SEC Network for those of you not making the trip to the Palmetto State.


South Carolina

66.8 PPG 78.2
66.5 OPP 67.9
.430 FG% .441
.400 OPP .387
50.2 EFG% 49.1
46.2 OPP 46.6
.336 3PT% .341
.338 OPP .354
.651 FT% .674
.682 OPP .683
39.5 FTRate 50.7
37.2 OPP 38.0
34.7 RPG 42.3
37.4 OPP 32.3
27.6 OREB% 39.4
33.0 OPP 26.3
13.9 TOPG 14.6
13.2 OPP 15.6
20.7 TO% 19.8
19.6 OPP 20.8

The development of Michael Carrera in four seasons has been astonishing. Carrera began his career as an undersized post player who was known primarily for getting by on pure effort, usually in the form of rebounding and hustle plays. He continues to do those small things that make him the type of guy opposing fans love to hate, but he's also developed into a nice offensive option for Frank Martin. He currently leads the team in scoring (13.7) and rebounding (7.1). He's making 50% of his shot attempts (45% from 3) and 79% from the free throw line. He was the only Gamecock player who had a nice game in the last meeting, finishing with 14 pts, 10 rebs.

The four veteran players for this Carolina team - Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, Mindaugas Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkevicius - continue to produce, all four are averaging double figures. And the freshmen, PJ Dozier and Chris Silva, continue to show improvement. This remains a solid team, though perhaps not as dynamic as other teams in the conference.

South Carolina is the better team, but they're not light years ahead of Alabama; the game in Tuscaloosa proved that. To win this one, Alabama will need a similar performance from the 3 point line (shot 46% from 3 in game one) and on the defensive end (South Carolina shot 35% from the field, 16% from 3, and 18 turnovers), while taking better care of the ball (17 turnovers in game one) and the free throw line (57%). This game has been announced as a sellout so the environment will likely be loud, hostile, and Alabama will have to get off to a good start.