Tony Mitchell will be out of Alabama's plans at least one more game. Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant said Friday the suspension of the team's second-leading scorer -- which he called "indefinite" when it was announced Monday -- remains in place. Grant said Mitchell would not make the trip with the team to Baton Rouge, La., for today's game at LSU. So Alabama (16-7, 5-4 SEC) will again look to the player who filled the scoring gap in Tuesday's 68-50 win at Auburn. Sophomore guard Charles Hankerson came off the bench to score 14 points, more than Mitchell's 13.1-per-game average.
Ten Alabama players played at least seven minutes against Auburn. And the bench outscored the Tigers 28-9 to continue its recent improved play. Alabama has averaged more than 28 points from its reserves in the last four games. Charles Hankerson came off the bench and scored 14 points. Freshman Rodney Cooper was 3-for-3 with two 3-pointers. But senior forward JaMychal Green credited 7-footer Carl Engstrom with setting the tone early for Alabama (16-7, 5-4 SEC). "I think he is the one that brought the energy to the team," Green said. "He came out there and did a great job. He was on the boards and he scored four points and that was huge for us."
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant announced earlier today that junior forward Tony Mitchell is still suspended, and will not play tomorrow night against LSU. There still has been no timetable for his return, but I projected that he would miss these two road games against Auburn and LSU, and would return for Alabama’s home date with Florida on Tuesday. In the first meeting, Mitchell didn’t have a great game, but he did make an impact with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. With Mitchell out once again, Alabama will need other guys to step up in his absence.
The Tide's defense remains one of the top in the nation by allowing a scant 57.9 points per game this season, the 12th best average in the nation and the second best in the SEC while forcing its last three opponents into 17.7 turnovers per game. Offensively, the Tide's bench has provided a spark with the reserves averaging 28.2 points per game over the last four games. Charles Hankerson, Jr. has helped generate that average of late with with a 10-point performance against Mississippi and a 14-point outing with a career-high three three-pointers against Auburn, all less than 10 days after undergoing knee surgery.
LSU is 13-10 overall and 3-6 in the SEC, while Alabama comes in at 16-7 and 5-4 in the league. LSU has home wins over Ole Miss and Auburn and evened the season series with Arkansas with a 71-65 win in the team's last home game on Feb. 4 and the Tigers would like to turn the tables again after the Tide won the opening game between the two schools on Jan. 11, 69-53. But Coach Trent Johnson knows that this is a different situation meeting Alabama the second time than the second meeting with Arkansas. "This team, Alabama, is a lot different than Arkansas," said Johnson at his Thursday media session. "Alabama, I really feel, doesn't matter on the road or at home, they're the same because their mental and physical toughness is very impressive. What we take from the first time, and what we take from even this group last year, you're going to have to be physical and be smart, and you're going to have to beat this basketball team. They are not going to beat themselves."
The Crimson Tide has quietly fashioned a three-game winning streak in SEC play and positioned itself into a potential NCAA Tournament bid. Alabama was solidly in the field in Friday projections by CBS (as a No. 7 seed) and ESPN (as a No. 8 seed), but UA needs to keep winning games like tonight's 6 p.m. contest with the Tigers, now 3-6 in the SEC. Alabama handled the Tigers easily in Tuscaloosa last month, winning 69-53 behind a 20-point performance from Trevor Releford. "LSU will be a different team at home," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said on Friday. "They beat Marquette at home. They are 3-1 in the SEC at home and the only loss is to Kentucky. "The last time we played them we had some success and I think that we shot 50 percent from the field," Grant said. "So we will have to be ready for some defensive adjustments that they will make, and make sure that we do a better job of taking care of the basketball because we had 15 turnovers in that game.
Senior Amanda Locke collected three hits and sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina allowed just one as the Alabama softball team downed Memphis, 8-0, in five innings Friday afternoon at Jaguar Field. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 11-5 in opening day games and has now won seven of its last eight openers. Traina allowed just a single hit in the second inning and shut down the Tigers the rest of the way as the sophomore fanned seven and walked two in an 87-pitch effort to open the Mardi Gras Invitational.
After putting together its highest score in almost eight seasons last week in a victory over No. 3 Florida, the second-ranked Alabama gymnastics team recorded a season-low score Friday night. But that score of 196.000 still was more than enough to defeat No. 28 Kentucky. The Wildcats finished with a score of 194.700. The Crimson Tide's lowest score previously was 196.175 in its second meet of the season at Penn State. "This was one of those blue-collar nights," Alabama coach Sarah Patterson said. "The ladies weren't perfect, but we made some adjustments that will help us step forward."
"This was one of those nights that we worked really, really hard to get the score we had," Patterson said. "This is one of the times that I don't want the ladies to focus on the score, but just focus on our performance." Leading by more than a point going into the final rotation, Alabama scored a 48.850 on the balance beam led by sophomore Kim Jacob's meet-high 9.85 to close out the win. Alabama started the night off with a 49.000 on the uneven bars led by senior Geralen Stack-Eaton's meet-best 9.85.
Former Alabama safety Mark Barron will miss the NFL Scouting Combine while recovering from double hernia surgery, according to a sourced report. NFLDraftScout.com reported Friday that Barron's recovery could last as long as eight weeks. The report said Barron's surgery was due to a pre-existing condition. Barron has coped with various injuries the past two seasons.