The Alabama men's basketball team improved to 17-9 and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play with a 62-50 win over Tennessee in front of 12,988 fans in Coleman Coliseum Saturday. "It was great for the team to be locked in to our game plan and complete the task at hand," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "They put in a lot of hard work this week. We had a great week of preparation." Freshman guard Trevor Lacey scored 18 points, including a career-high nine made free throws, to go with four steals to lead the Crimson Tide. Sophomore point guard Trevor Releford added 13 points and five steals while junior guard Andrew Steele totaled 10 points along with career-high seven assists and five steals. Sophomore center Carl Engstrom notched career-highs in points (7), rebounds (7) and minutes (23).
The Crimson Tide, playing without three starters, two suspended and one ailing, stifled Tennessee at Coleman Coliseum, taking a 62-50 win that was constructed primarily from desire and defense. "It was a tremendous effort (today), but the guys have been tremendous all week in practice," Alabama (17-9, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) coach Anthony Grant said. "I told them that I wanted them to be aggressive and they were. It wasn't a perfect game, but we were able to play through any mistakes. I was very proud."
But even with the same players, Alabama wasn't always the same team - see South Carolina - and for the last few weeks, there has been mystery in every pregame introduction and an identity crisis in almost every game. That was no different Saturday, but give Anthony Grant credit. Given a reasonable four-day stretch of practice time, instead of the two-suspension Saturday/Tuesday whirlwind that preceded it, Grant and the Crimson Tide staff remade the Crimson Tide yet again, fielding a team that didn't exactly resemble the early-season expectations, but did play hard. What's more, the Tide was something it has not been very often this year: fun to watch. On top of that, UA won, beating a hot Tennessee team. That sort of remaking-on-the-fly isn't always easy, or successful. (Seen "Two And A Half Men" lately?)
1. Mismatches. Without Green and Mitchell, Alabama was no match inside for LSU and Florida. Tennessee had a size advantage, too, but Alabama went with a four-guard lineup and gave the Vols matchup problems. Quickness can counteract height and bulk. Four guards won't work against every opponent, but it will work again. A full-court press with four guards was quite effective Saturday. The Tide had 15 steals and forced 17 turnovers overall.
We talked Friday, and Hart delivered a particularly strong endorsement of Grant. The support wasn't unexpected, considering that Hart was the point man on the Alabama search team that hired him, but the sincerity was clear. Hart said he "didn't blink" when he read that Grant had suspended four players last week, all of them regulars, and that leading scorers and rebounders JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell have remained suspended. "I don't know what happened, but I know Anthony," Hart said. "He's not going to take any shortcuts."
It was fun while it lasted. After four straight wins and a week of speculation about whether this Tennessee team could make a run to the NCAA tournament, the Vols were unable to take advantage of the short-handed Alabama Crimson Tide and were dealt another road reality check, falling 62-50 in Tuscaloosa Alabama was playing without their two leading scorers and rebounders in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, but the Tide didn't forget how to defend the perimeter, and that was enough to handily defeat the cold-shooting Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee held Alabama to just 37% from the floor and 28% from beyond the arc, but the Vols were even worse, shooting 34% from the field and 20% from three-point range, a performance that dredged up unpleasant memories of ugly road losses in Memphis and Athens. It was the kind of game that has plagued Tennessee all season. It was a young team on the road against a very good defense, so a bad shooting and ball-handling night is not a big surprise. But it was also the kind of game the Vols had hoped they'd put behind them. And when you dig a hole as deep as Tennessee did in December, there's no margin for error in the attempt to climb back into contention.
Florida Atlantic took a season-opening baseball series from the University of Alabama Saturday with a 9-2 win, and after watching the Crimson Tide score just four runs in the season's first 18 innings, UA coach Mitch Gaspard will be expecting a new approach from his hitters today in the series finale. "It's going to come down to one of the core players coming in and getting a big hit. We've got to put together back-to-back-to-back good at bats," Gaspard said. "Right now, after (Taylor) Dugas, there's not much happening. You've got to string them together and guys have to be more competitive in their at bats."
SEC members averaged $19.5 million from their conference payout in 2010-11, an increase of $1.2 million from the previous year, according to the league's non-profit IRS filing. The amount is also more than the $18.3 million average payout the SEC estimated last June from all revenues. Before new television deals with ESPN and CBS kicked in, the SEC's average payout was $13 million in 2008-09.
What was initially thought to be a nagging groin injury for Nussmeier turned out to be something more serious. It was, in fact, a hip injury. And when the name no athlete wants to hear attached to a hip injury - Bo Jackson - fell on Buratto's ears, he knew Nussmeier's future might be taking a turn. "Doug suffered the same kind of hip injury that Bo Jackson had," said Buratto, head coach of the Lions at the time. "They discovered that part of his hip bone had died, so the groin muscles were contracting to make up for the fact that the hip didn't want to do what it was supposed to do. They did this fancy surgery that was supposed to get him back to where he could play again.
Listed as "the odd man out" in the Mike Stoops reunion at Oklahoma, former Sooners defensive backs coach Willie Martinez has landed on his feet with a job in the SEC. Auburn announced today that Martinez would be joining Gene Chizik‘s staff, replacing Phillip Lolley. Lolley stepped down from his position earlier this month to re-take an administrative job within the athletic department.
Texas A&M will play Arkansas at Kyle Field this season, Aggies athletic director Bill Byrne said on Saturday night. The Aggies have played the Razorbacks as a nonconference opponent the past three seasons in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, all Arkansas victories. The teams will meet as Southeastern Conference foes for the first time on Sept. 29, which gives A&M six home games this season. In 2013, the Razorbacks will host the contest, and then the series is scheduled to resume in Arlington with seven years remaining on the original contract, agreed upon when A&M was still in the Big 12.