The Alabama Crimson Tide cruised past Georgia Tech 73-48 in their final non-conference tune-up before opening up conference play on Saturday in Athens against Georgia. The Crimson Tide lost their two previous true road games against Dayton and Kansas State, so going to Atlanta and knocking off the Yellow Jackets in convincing fashion was a much needed confidence boost for this team before the start of SEC action. As usual, Alabama used a strong defensive performance to lead them to the victory. They forced 22 Georgia Tech turnovers, and held them to just 40% shooting. The Jackets become the 10th team this season held to under 60 points by the Tide. To go along with the superb effort on the defensive end, Alabama played very well offensively. They shot 54% from the floor led by Trevor Releford. Releford remains hot as he went 8-of-8 from the floor for 17 points. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
Alabama scored 30 points in the paint and 17 points off of turnovers in the opening period to take a 40-22 advantage into the intermission. Georgia Tech shot 40 percent from the floor, but made just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc and 1-of-4 from the free throw line in the first half. The Crimson Tide made 50 percent of its field goal attempts and 10-of-13 from the charity stripe after halftime to extend their lead. Alabama dominated inside as it won the rebounding battle 33-29 and outscored the Yellow Jackets in the paint 46-26.
Alabama (11-3) forced Tech into 15 turnovers in the first half and scored 17 points off turnovers to Tech’s five, while opening up a 40-22 lead at halftime. Not that the Yellow Jackets could hear it, but one frustrated Tech fan yelled "value your possessions" from the upper deck, to little avail. The Yellow Jackets committed 22 turnovers in the game, one off their season-high. "Fifteen first-half turnovers really puts you in tough position no matter how well you’re doing anything else," Gregory said.
"I thought we came out and played with great energy," UA head coach Anthony Grantsaid. "We came out defensively and set the tone. We struggled a little to start the second half, but finished up well. This was a good win for our team."
In its last tune-up before the opening of Southeastern Conference play, the University of Alabama men's basketball team regained a vital engine component and added a key spare to the rotation as the Crimson Tide cruised to a 73-48 blowout win against Georgia Tech on Tuesday night in Philips Arena. Senior forward JaMychal Green returned to the lineup after being sidelined for two consecutive games with a shoulder injury. He didn't start but came off the bench to score nine points on 4 of 7 shooting, grab five rebounds and add two blocks and two steals in 23 minutes of action. Green's return was noticeable for more than just his statistics line. With him on the floor, it opened up the lanes for his teammates, drawing considerable attention from the Georgia Tech front court. With that additional room to operate, Trevor Releford sliced up the Yellow Jackets defense to the tune of 17 points and four assists. Releford was perfect from the floor, hitting all eight of his attempts, including one 3-pointer. "It was a good thing to have JaMychal back," Releford said. "I mean, it opened up a lot for me with them keying on JaMychal."
But less than 5 minutes later, the Crimson Tide led by 22 following two free throws by Andrew Steele. Tuesday marked Steele's first game since suffering a concussion in last year's SEC tournament. The junior guard finished with nine points, including a three-point play that made it 60-37 with 10:13 remaining.
It was all good news for LSU. In the cards, Otis saw balance, Lady Luck, passion, moving forward, harvest, good communication and -- wait for this one Tiger fans -- celebration. Harvest didn't really fit at first, but then it came to me: In tandem with celebration that can only mean LSU Coach Les Miles and his followers will grab a handful of grass and munch for victory, hopefully outside the Superdome. Now, I'm getting this. We move onto Alabama's cards. Otis wrinkles his brow. Not so good. Otis sees passion from the same devil card that came up in LSU's hand. But it's scattered passion, and he said this group overall is passive. There's also stress, a lot of stress cards coming out. I ask if he sees a figure with a Napoleonic complex connected to those stress cards. No answer. "The passion is there," he said. "They're just not going to win."
"This Alabama defense is the best defense I've coached against in six years of being a college coordinator at this level," said Malzahn. "If they (LSU) can come up with 21 points, they've really done something special." "Realistically to march the football down the field on this defense is a stretch."
"I thought I would try to play through it. The next drive, I was taking on a power rush, and I planted on it and it popped again, real bad," Jones said. "It was weak. I fell down. I did stay in for one more play I think, but then I came out and said, 'I've got to go to the locker room, get more tape or whatever.'" While the injury wasn't enough to keep Jones out of the LSU game, it was severe enough to sideline him for two subsequent games against Mississippi State and Georgia Southern. He was replaced in the lineup by fifth-year senior Alfred McCullough, but returned in time to play against Auburn to finish the regular season. Jones said he would have been honest with the UA training staff if he didn't believe he could have finished the game as an effective player. As such, he doesn't think his injury had a significant impact on Alabama's second-half offense against the Tigers. "I had to kind of just figure out a way to block on one leg," he said. "But looking back, I don't think I played that bad. When you're playing out there with adrenalin running, it helps get you through."
While Miles is prone to taking low-percentage chances on gut instinct, he isn't dumb. He's ridden this defense to one of the best regular seasons in college football history and he's going to continue riding it. But with Jordan Jefferson solidly entrenched at quarterback again, Rueben Randle providing matchup issues in the vertical game and a healthy Alabama defense unlikely to give much ground in the running game, we may see a little more creativity out of Miles on Monday night than we saw on Nov. 5. The Crimson Tide may open it up a little more as well. The antidote to long missed field goals is shorter field goals or touchdowns, so look for Alabama to take a chance or two in order to drive closer in to Jeremy Shelley's range. And unless the situation demands it, the Crimson Tide might be wise to pass up field goal attempts of 50 or more yards and instead try to pin the Tigers deep, minimizing LSU's biggest advantage -- the kicking game.
Even though it’s a short flight, even though there are a number of other things to focus on this week, even though they’ve been through this before, several Crimson Tide players just want to get this trip over. They hate flying – and no one dreads it more than star running back Trent Richardson. "If I could’ve driven, I would’ve went on and drove," Richardson noted about the Penn State trip earlier this season. "If I could’ve walked, I would’ve walked. I hate flying." He said his attitude hasn’t gotten any better. "I try to take a Tylenol PM, and it doesn’t work until I get ready to land," Richardson said. "Then I feel the tiredness coming out in me. … It’s crazy." D.J. Fluker isn’t above medication, either. "Flying is not for me," the Tide’s right tackle said. "I have to get a whole lot sleepy before I get on that flight. I need something to knock me out."
Yes, the teams will be rested and as healthy as possible when they meet. But will they have that in-season edge that was part of the first meeting? Both teams had a week off before LSU's 9-6 overtime win in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5, but it was still a brutal, knock-down-drag-out affair that really did resemble a heavyweight fight at times, albeit one decided on points and not by knockout. That may or may not be the case this time, as the respective coaching staffs have had almost six weeks to analyze and adjust their game plans. Which team -- and coaching staff -- responds better to the long layoff will be a huge factor in the outcome. But as a fan, I am not responding well to the long wait.
"I guess at first coming in, people were questioning them, but they really have turned into a strength of our team," Jones said. "A lot of guys have really matured and gained a lot of confidence. We've got a few guys up there playing really good football right now. Personally from blocking them in practice, there's a huge difference from the beginning of the year and now. They've really just started to believe that they are a strength of this team."
Mike Davis of Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson made such a fuss about his assigned No. 16 that he was given a new number (14), making him the only player without his name on his jersey. But that didn't help - neither was the No. 28 he wanted. Number assignments are a reccurring issue at all-star events. Not only are stars used to getting the number they want, many want the same number. So putting in requests (as all games ask the players to do) doesn't necessarily solve the problem. "What are we going to do? We've got 35 kids who want a single-digit number, and we've only got nine," bowl official John Schmid said.
The dark side of recruiting is "de-committing," or when a football prospect commits to a college and one or both sides decide later on to go separate ways. There are many reasons for this to happen. With the state of Georgia projected to have between 175-185 high school seniors to sign FBS (formerly NCAA Div. I-A) scholarships, 12 prospects have already had their offer rescinded by a college or reneged on their original commitment. We take a closer look at the dozen: