Alabama will bring a 5-0 record into tonight's 7:00pm CT matchup in Coleman Coliseum against the Southland Conference's Lamar Cardinals. The game will not be televised, but will be available via radio on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
The be perfectly blunt, this will likely be Bama's weakest opponent all season. Although they did win their conference tournament last season and qualified for the NCAA Tournament with an automatic berth, the Cardinals rank 285th in the Pomeroy ratings this season, and bring in a 1-5 record that includes blowout losses to Kansas State, Virginia, Charlotte, and Arkansas State, and a 15-point loss to North Texas. Their only win came against IUPUI by four points.
As such, Alabama should not only win this game, but win it with relative ease and extend its record to 6-0 before probably the biggest nonconference test of the season on Saturday at Cincinnati. The Tide's focus tonight should be on improvement and keeping players healthy, namely 3rd-leading scorer Rodney Cooper, who sat out Friday night's win against Charleston Southern with tendinitis in his left (shooting) arm. Nick Jacobs is also trying to overcome an ankle sprain that has hampered him early this season.
As for Lamar, their struggles this season have stemmed largely from a penchant for turnovers, something that will have the Alabama defense, which has thrived this season on creating turnovers, licking their chops. Probably the most interesting thing about tonight's game will be the change in styles relative to Bama's last opponent, Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers had the highest three-point attempt ratio of all 347 Division I teams entering the contest with Alabama. The Cardinals, remarkably, have the lowest three-point attempt ratio of all 347 Division I teams. Clearly, Lamar lives off of scoring inside the arc, so this time Alabama's defense will have to be focused in the paint, rather than on the perimeter.
The Cardinals don't have any players in particular that stand out statistically. They are lead in both scoring and rebounding by a 6'5" freshman wing player, Rhon Mitchell, who averages 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Alabama's mission tonight is simple: come out and play well early, put the game out of reach, stay healthy, and start preparing for the trip to Cincinnati with a perfect 6-0 record. In that regard, as usual, hope for the best.