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Jumbo Package: All Eyes On Avery Johnson -- And They Should Be

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Avery Johnson is a wizard.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

#buckleup

Retin Obasohan gets 35 in Alabama’s 76-69 road victory over LSU - Alabama - Scout

"Unbelievable victory for us tonight on the road against a team that’s obviously been at the top of the SEC," Johnson said. "A terrific team led by a young man, Ben Simmons, who is tough to cover. But we hung in there and I felt good about where we were at halftime, only being down by five. Our energy wasn’t where it should have been and our concentration, but recently we’ve become a pretty good second-half team. We seem to get better and better as the game wears on."

Retin Obasohan hit 35 (and got his 1000th point) last night to lead the Tide. Scrappy Riley Norris hauled down an incredible 16 rebounds. And, surprise of surprises, Alabama hitting late free throws made the difference in this one.

Retin Obasohan scores career-high 35 points, helps Tide to victory | TuscaloosaNews.com

There is little doubt that LSU forward Ben Simmons will be the first pick in the next NBA draft. Whether he was the best player on the court Wednesday night was a different question. Alabama's Retin Obasohan poured in a career- high 35 points as the University of Alabama basketball team won its fifth straight SEC basketball game in a row, the third straight on the road, upsetting league-leading LSU 76-69 at the Maravich Assembly Center.

Alabama has won five straight now and is off the bubble -- as high as an 8-seed in some brackets. We'll have our Bracketology piece on Monday updating you on this one.

BTW: if you wanted to go to the Mississippi State game Saturday? Good luck -- it is sold out. Good job, folks!

'Alabama controls its own destiny' - ESPN Video

Dane Bradshaw and Tony Delk of SEC Now discuss Alabama's identity and momentum going into the postseason.

Beating a 15th ranked team and then knocking off two other tourney teams, all in 10 days, has a way of making people pay attention. Barring a complete implosion, the Tide control their tournament destiny. Roll Tide!

Crootin'

Cristobal offers Miami commit

Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal extended an offer to 2018 receiver Daquris Wiggins out of Miami (Fla.) Southridge on Wednesday afternoon, a source tells 247Sports' Ryan Bartow. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Wiggins has been committed to Miami since October.

This will be an interesting battle between two []_[] alumni. Can Mark Richt consolidate the South Florida recruiting base, or can teams like Alabama and Florida State still saunter into Coral Gables and poach top talent?

Alabama joins Auburn in race for Isaiah Buggs, No. 1 JUCO defensive end | AL.com

LSU could be the biggest threat to Alabama and Auburn for Buggs, a native of Ruston, Louisiana. Buggs grew up an LSU fan and received an offer from the Bayou Bengals Tuesday afternoon. "They're a great school," Buggs said. "They were looking at me when I was in high school as well. A couple coaches came down to see me and I went up there and looked at the campus. It was nice. They're definitely in the running as well. It's good to know I have an opportunity to play back at home." Buggs recorded 59 tackles as a freshman last fall, including eight tackles for loss and four sacks. He will return to MGCCC this fall before transferring for his final two seasons of eligibility.

Auburn was in on Buggs first. However, in the past few weeks the Mississippi Gulf Coast JUCO has received offers from literally every team in SEC, outside of A&M and Mizzou. Buggs is also interested in Baylor and Ole Miss, alongside Alabama, LSU and Auburn. My early guess is that Auburn hangs on to this one.

Football

Strongest/weakest positions for SEC contenders: Alabama Crimson Tide - SEC Blog- ESPN

Let's examine another position group that faces questions this spring: the defensive line. As has been well-publicized, Nick Saban's staff has recruited just fine, so there is not a talent shortage anywhere in this group. However, the Crimson Tide lost starting defensive ends A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed and nose Darren Lake, plus senior reserve D.J. Pettway. That's a boatload of talent to lose up front, although Jonathan Allen (he of 12 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss) made a huge decision to return for his senior season. There are also younger players like Da'Ron Payne and Da'Shawn Hand who should be ready to step into larger roles.

This article makes me question whether folks at ESPN actually watch the games? Alabama has a few questions to be sure, but who will step up at linebacker (for instance) or win the right tackle job are far greater concerns at this point. The defensive line won't be at its historical depth of 2015, but the 2016 Tide DL, and particularly defensive ends, will still be the best in the country.

Five Alabama Crimson Tide players on the spot this offseason - SEC Blog- ESPN

Now the question becomes where he goes from here. Whether he takes over for Geno Matias-Smith at safety or Cyrus Jones at corner, Fitzpatrick will shoulder more responsibility as a sophomore, which is worth keeping an eye on.

Okay, this article isn't quite as dumb. Where to move Fitzpatrick is a good question. Sure, it overlooks the fact that Humphrey will be a lock-down guy next season and Tony Brown's potential (among other young developing guys.) Still, my most likely guess is that Sixpatrick plays the corner opposite Humphrey and Ronnie Harrison moves to Geno Matias-Smith's now-open spot at strong safety.

Miscellany

The Solid Verbal: ESPN's Tom Rinaldi reveals the secrets to his emotion factory - SBNation.com

We talk about how he finds the compelling stories he reports on, his biggest challenges in editing the final product, and how he convinces his subjects to speak openly. To wrap things up, he speaks about balancing his responsibilities telling stories, sometimes in a more raucous GameDay environment and working as a sideline reporter and covering the hectic action on the field, itself.

Can I share something with you? I actually don't like Rinaldi stories any more. There are scores of hard luck stories on every team, every game, every week, every season. They were cool features at first, and there are still some of benefit (LSU's Les Miles for instance,) but it seems to be morphing into a formulaic, "dead child" 10 minutes to be spent every Saturday morning.

That said, it's a great interview with a master craftsman.

Alabama softball pitchers combine for no-hitter | TuscaloosaNews.com

Three University of Alabama pitchers combined to throw the 26th no-hitter in program history on Tuesday night, as Alabama defeated host UAB, 7-0. Alabama (5-1) freshman Madi Moore (3-0) earned the win, throwing 4.1 hitless innings. Sydney Littlejohn and Alexis Osorio combined with 2.2 hitless innings in relief.

Alabama softball shelled UAB...again, and, aside from two walks, would have had a perfect game. #OppressUAB

Alabama Swimming and Diving Back on the Podium after Day Two of the SEC Championships - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

Alabama has approached this year’s SEC Championships, especially on the men’s side, a little differently than in the past, not fully resting those swimmers who have already earned a spot at the upcoming NCAA Championships. "With our performance to this point, we’re positioned well in the team standings in this meet and more importantly in our preparation for the NCAA Championships," Pursley said. Alabama’s men are one point out of third place after tallying 361 points through two days of competition.

Alabama men's swimming and diving is just one-point out from a third-place finish that would put it on pace to make the national championships this season. We've overlooked it, to be sure, but the S&D team has been increasingly more dominant the past two seasons. Roll Tide, and best of luck.