With the brutal stretch of the non-conference portion of the schedule now behind them, the 9th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2; Kenpom: 12; T-Rank: 13; NET: 7) welcome in the Jackson State Tigers (1-10; Kenpom: 305; T-Rank: 319; NET: 327) to officially finish up out-of-conference play. I hate to call it a break in the schedule, but with a Christmas hiatus following the game tonight, and the overall quality of the opponent taking the court opposite of the Tide relative to who Alabama has been playing recently - that’s exactly what it is.
I mean this with the absolute most respect that I can, but this may be the worst team Alabama has played since Nate Oats came to Tuscaloosa. The advanced metrics certainly back that up. I hate to disrespect any opponent, especially since the Tigers are coached by one of our own - former All-SEC point guard and long-time pro Mo Williams. It is his first season at the helm, and the Tigers have played mostly high-major teams, so I’ll cut him some slack.
Still, the guys can’t afford to take anyone lightly. A Q4 loss like this one would be a steaming dump on an otherwise beautiful non-conference resume. As mentioned, Jackson State has played some good teams, including staying within ten of both Michigan and Mississippi State and beating SMU, so it’s not like they’ll be intimidated by the Tide. And I’m sure Mo would love to leave Coleman Coliseum with a massive victory for his program tonight.
POINT 6’4 Ken Evans (11.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 114.9 DRtg)
GUARD 6’3 Coltie Young (9.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 120.4 DRtg)
WING 6’6 Zeke Cook (4.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 115.4 DRtg)
POST 6’8 Trace Young (10.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 115.0 DRtg)
POST 6’9 Romelle Mansel (7.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 115.3 DRtg)
Off the Bench
GUARD 5’7 Chase Adams (4.4 PPG 2.5 APG, 2.1 RPG, 116.8 DRtg)
GUARD 5’11 Kieveon Hunt (3.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 RPG, 112.8 DRtg)
GUARD 6’2 Gabe Watson (9.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 117.9 DRtg)
WING 6’7 Jamarcus Jones (7.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 119.2 DRtg)
POST 6’11 Treyon Johnson (1.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 120.2 DRtg)
The Tigers have played a lot of guys this year, as coach Mo has obviously been utilizing this first half of the season to experiment with different looks and figure out his most optimal rotation in time for SWAC play. But Ken Evans is the guy on the offensive end, as he averages 34.8%/31.0%/76.2% on 12.3 FGA per game and a 25.2% Usage Rate. However, the most dangerous player on Jackson State offensively is probably freshman Coltie Young, who is shooting 42.6% from three on about 6 3PA per game. My man just jacks them up when he’s got a look.
In the paint, Trace Young and Romelle Mansel have done a pretty good job this season on the glass (13.8% REB% and 12.4% REB%, respectively), and the Tigers rebound well as a whole. They have three other players (Jamarcus Jones, Zeke Cook, and Treyon Johnson) who also are north of 10% in that category. That overall commitment to hitting the boards has Jackson State ranking in the top 60 nationally in both OREB% (33.2%) and OREB% allowed (24.1%).
Unfortunately for Jackson State, that’s about all they do well as a team. And their defense is quite literally one of the worst in college basketball. I mean look at those Defensive Ratings again. There are only five teams in the country with a worse eFG% allowed (58.4%), as teams are shooting nearly 40% from the perimeter and 57.5% from inside the arc this season. Mo Williams definitely has his work cut out for him in rebuilding this program.
On paper, this should be a slaughter. Alabama is listed as a 30-point favorite for a reason. But with Michigan State, UConn, North Carolina, Houston, Memphis, and Gonzaga in the rearview mirror, and SEC play starting up with a meeting with undefeated Mississippi State next week, this is absolutely a major let-down spot. On top of that, Nate Oats mentioned in yesterday’s presser that the team is dealing with a number of illnesses right now.
Emotional maturity and leadership are going to loom large tonight. Jackson State can do enough to negate Alabama’s usual advantage on the glass, and if the Tide continue to be sloppy as hell with the basketball, anything can happen. Hopefully, the guys come out ready to get the taste from that loss in Birmingham on Saturday out of their mouths and take care of business in this one.
The game will tip-off at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on the SEC Network.