Attempting fewer 3-pointers helped the overall success rate. One of the nation’s worst perimeter shooting teams, Alabama makes 28.5 percent of its 3s compared to Creighton’s 42.5 3-point percentage. The Tide made 32.1 percent of its 3s in the past five games while attempting an average of three fewer than it has all season. Freshman Trevor Lacey hit a big 3-pointer in the closing minute of Alabama’s SEC first-round win over South Carolina. And Levi Randolph beat the first-half buzzer against Florida from behind the arc. So Green knows it’s possible for Alabama to catch a heater in Greensboro. "They can shoot, but sometimes they don’t fall," Green said. "They gain their confidence and they made a couple 3s in the last couple games. We’re going to need them to step up and they know what they have to do."
This battle could be won by the team that gets the most out of its point guard. Alabama’s Trevor Releford is a defensive whiz who ranks 33rd in the country in steals per game (2.0). Levi Randolph is also solid defensively. Antoine Young has excelled at picking his spots offensively this season, and is capable of taking over if the Crimson Tide try to jam things up inside. Alabama defends the perimeter like few other teams, but the Bluejays have been adept at getting shooters open looks from 3-point range. As he has been all season, Creighton’s Grant Gibbs could be the wild card that swings the advantage the Bluejays’ way.
While Creighton feels confident in their ability to take down the Tide, guard Grant Gibbs knows it will be crucial for the Bluejays to control the tempo of the game. "We have to do everything we can to get that tempo going," Gibbs said. "We need to push it every time we get an opportunity and get easy baskets. We've really been good offensively when we've emphasized getting the ball up and down.
Creighton (28-5) scores 80 points a game while Alabama’s managing 64.9 a night. In the past five games, that number dipped to 59.5. Still, the Tide’s leading scorer feels better about the offense now that he did a few weeks ago. "I think we’re finally getting it together," senior JaMychal Green said. "Coach Grant just put in a couple new plays that fits us and it’s a better fit for our offense. I think the freshmen, they have confidence in themselves shooting the ball, and once they knock down a couple shots, it will be a good game. I think we’ll be hard to guard."
The al.com Alabama Basketball Podcast returns with an all-tournament talk episode this week, featuring al.com Sports Producer Matt Scalici, al.com Tuscaloosa producer Ben Flanagan, Alabama basketball fan and Twitter personality Hunter Johnson, and RollBamaRoll's Matt Dover. In part one, Matt, Ben and Hunter discuss what this tournament berth means for the Alabama basketball program. In part two, Matt and Matt break down the Creighton Bluejays in detail and discuss what the Tide will have to do to come away with a win.
Sumlin knows rival SEC schools are headed to Texas and will be recruiting with more confidence than ever. But he doesn’t think the "floodgates" will suddenly open like some are speculating. "There are 11 Div. I football-playing schools in this state; People forget about that," Sumlin said. "We did a study when I was at Houston which showed us something like 70-80 D1 schools come into the state of Texas A&M. So it wouldn’t be anything new, I’ll put it that way. The competition for recruits has always been great in this state. "It may have opened some doors [for other SEC schools] for whatever battles may be around here. But I think it may have opened the doors for us a little bit and increased our footprint with moving East in recruiting, if anything. There’s some minuses in recruiting with all of this, but there’s also some pluses. We’ve been received a little bit better as we move toward Louisiana and Mississippi."
This week, al.com introduces an all new Alabama Football Podcast. Each week, al.com Sports Producer Matt Scalici will bring you conversations with journalists, experts and fans about Alabama football. This week, Matt is joined by al.com's Tuscaloosa Bureau Producer Ben Flanagan. Matt and Ben discuss the state of the Alabama football program and give their picks for the most important position battle heading into the spring.
The San Diego Chargers announced Wednesday that they have signed linebacker Jarret Johnson to a four-year contract. Johnson isn’t a dynamic pass rusher, but he’s long been one of the better edge-setting, run-defending outside linebackers in the game. Johnson can play several linebacker positions.
Knile Davis may not see contact this spring football season, but Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino assured media Tuesday that his star running back was "100 percent and completely healed" from an August ankle injury that kept him out all of 2010. "It's a decision we'll make of when is he ready mentally for it," Petrino said. "You need to get out there and move around and be with bodies around you and make sure that mentally you're ready and focused for when you're going to get hit. "So I don't know if we'll do that this spring or wait until next fall. We really haven't made a decision yet."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino says senior linebacker Alonzo Highsmith will miss spring practice after injuring his left pectoral muscle. Highsmith started all 13 games for the Razorbacks and had 80 tackles, including 12.5 for losses. He also had 4.5 sacks.
Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy's new eight-year, $30.3 million contract includes a big boost at the beginning. Details of Gundy's deal released Wednesday to The Associated Press after an open records request show Gundy will earn $3.275 million in the upcoming season. That's a jump of more than $1 million over the $2.1 million Gundy was due last year under his old contract.