Alabama comes home to Coleman to play their only home game in a five game stretch, when they face the Ole Miss Rebels Tuesday night in a 8 p.m. game that is to be televised by ESPNU. The Tide holds an all time record of 117-54 over the Rebels, including 37-6 in Coleman Coliseum. Coach Anthony Grant holds a SEC record of 30-7 at home in his five year Bama career. Bama's record is 9-14 overall and 3-7 in the SEC. Ole Miss sports a record of 16-7 overall and 7-3 in the SEC, and sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. According to ESPN, the Tide has played the second toughest schedule in the country.
Any discussion of Ole Miss has to begin with their controversial star Marshall Henderson. Henderson took the SEC by storm last year, and has continued to do so once again this year. Despite many, many run-ins with the law and authority, Henderson has managed to stay on the court, and leads the Rebels with a 19.6 point per game scoring average. Although Henderson has been for suspended for three games (so far) this year, he has hoisted 335 shots, 239 of which have been from three point range. His field goal percentage is a lowly .375, and .372 from three point range. Rather than a pure shooter he has to be considered a scorer. Henderson may start a game 0-15, but he will not shy away from shooting and can heat up and hit six or eight in a row at any moment. His backcourt mate Jarvis Summers is the only other Rebel in double figures, and averages 17.4 points per game. Summers is a much better shooter by average, with a .504 field goal percentage, and a even 50% from three point range. Ladarius White contributes 8.3 points per game. This is a game where 'Bama might actually match up fairly well inside. Aaron Jones leads in rebounds with 7.1 per game, and chips in 6.7 points per game. Sebastian Saiz grabs 6.3 boards per game and scores at a 5.2 point clip.
As far as 'Bama goes, Trevor Releford continues to shine in his senior season, averaging 18.3 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, 3.0 assists per game and 2.4 steals per game. Simply stated he has been the only consistent player on the court for the Tide this season. Retin Obasohan also scores in double digits at 11.2 points per game, and also grabs 3.1 rebounds per game and matches Releford with 2.4 steals per contest. Levi Randolph scores 8.5 points per game and adds 3.9 rebounds per game. Nick Jacobs scores 8.3 points per game and averages 3.4 rebounds. Rodney Cooper is the leading rebounder at only 4.9 per game. Cooper also scores 8.0 points per game. Freshmen Shannon Hale has come on during SEC play and now averages 7.3 points per game, while averaging 3.3 rebounds.
The keys for 'Bama remain the same:
1. Stop the slow starts! In the last five games 'Bama has been outscored 42-0 before posting their first point of the game. A 0-6 start versus Arkansas has been the smallest deficit the team has faced before finally scoring. Many times the deficit is forged with out the Tide getting off a shot. Shooting earlier in the shot clock when open may be one remedy.
2. Rebound! The Tide hasn't won the rebound battle in a game since January 15th when they out boarded the Mississippi State Bulldogs. When 'Bama out rebounds the opposition the record is 7-1. Conversely the Tide is 2-13 when being out rebounded.
3. Hit the three! When Cooper and or Hale are hitting from outside it helps Releford so much, giving him more open looks, not only from three, but also room to drive the lane. Releford arguably is the best in the country at getting to the rim and finishing, despite being under 6 feet tall.
When studying Ole Miss' statistics their record seems to be the product of smoke and mirrors The Rebels only shoot 43% from the field, and 37% from three point range, and 69.6 from the free throw line. Ole Miss is being out rebounded on the season 39.9 to 37.0 boards per game.On the other hand, 'Bama shoots at a .445 clip, .326 from three and .703 from the free throw line. The Tide averages 33.3 rebounds per game, while allowing 34.3 to their opponents. The statistics match up fairly evenly, but obviously the records do not.
Releford moved into 10th place on the all time scoring list for the Crimson Tide with 1,702 points. Michael Ansley with 1,749 and Brian Williams with 1,759 are the next targets for the little point guard. It really is a shame for this marvelous player to go out with a season such as this.
The Tide played better in the two road losses to Arkansas and Florida on their latest trip. Hopefully the game will go on, as of right now the University has canceled classes for Tuesday in anticipation of bad winter weather. Hopefully the conditions will clear and a good crowd will come out and try and help this team grab a much needed victory.
Roll Tide, Y'all
(Hang in there)