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Jumbo Package: Brandon Miller, Alabama basketball hope to ruin Auburn’s weekend

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The Gym Tide will compete in the Metroplex Challenge over in Fort Worth tomorrow, facing off against top-ranked Oklahoma plus Arkansas and Stanford. Unfortunately the event will not be streamed anywhere, which seems odd.

The women’s basketball team keeps rolling along. They’ve become quite the road warriors.

The Alabama women’s basketball team defeated Kentucky, 72-65, on Thursday night inside Memorial Coliseum, marking the first time in program history UA has recorded five straight Southeastern Conference regular season road wins.

Alabama (18-6, 7-4 SEC) had four players in double figures, led by a 22-point, 11-rebound double double performance from Brittany Davis. Aaliyah Nye posted 16 points, four rebounds and two steals while both Hannah Barber and Karly Weathers recorded 10 points in the win.

Kentucky (10-13, 2-9 SEC) was led by Jada Walker, who had 15 points, four boards and two steals. Robyn Benton tallied 14 points and three boards, while Maddie Scherr had 11 points and three rebounds.

ESPN currently has Kristy Curry’s squad as an 8 seed in the NCAA tournament field.

Men’s basketball heads down to Auburn tomorrow, for which we will of course have a full preview later on, to play in their laughably tiny gym that they are so, so proud of.

It isn’t the Auburn men’s team that’s in the top five, on the doorstep of the No. 1 ranking. Instead, that’s the visiting team — their nightmare team — No. 3 Alabama. The Auburn men have lost four out of five. The reply bombs on Twitter have been replaced lately with tweets of anguish and lament — and, yes, complaints about the officials. Auburn’s opponents are averaging 21.6 free throws per game against the men’s team. Even the meets for the high-flying and fun gymnastics team has caused the fans some pain, as Auburn had to watch Alabama come storming back on floor last Friday in Coleman Coliseum, it all out of everyone’s hands except for the judges.

On Thursday, the Auburn women host No. 1 South Carolina, on Friday, the gymnastics team hosts No. 9 LSU, and on Saturday the men host No. 3 Alabama, and all those teams come in off of wins and all Auburn’s teams come in after losses.

Hopefully Nate Oats’ squad responds well to the noise and feeds off of it. If Alabama plays its best, Auburn won’t stay within ten points. May their weekend turn out just as awful as it can be.

KenPom is extremely bullish on Alabama at this stage.

Alabama remains No. 2 in Thursday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings, where Purdue is No. 1 for the 18th consecutive day. The Crimson Tide will take a two-game lead in the SEC standings into Saturday’s game at Auburn. For what it’s worth, KenPom is now projecting Alabama to win the SEC by four games. If it goes down that way, it’ll be the most lopsided SEC race since Kentucky won the league by five games in 2015 before losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four.

Winning the SEC by a whopping four games would be an accomplishment that no Alabama fan has ever even considered.

Not much out there in the way of football talk, but longtime SEC writer Matt Hayes captures my feelings perfectly where the coordinators are concerned.

By now you’ve heard the grousing. Steele, the longtime SEC assistant, is past his prime, and Rees is too young. Both weren’t Saban’s first choice, and if anything says Saban has lost his fastball, that does.

At least Steele, 64, has a track record. Rees is 30 years old, and has only coached in the controlled bubble that is Notre Dame. What could he possibly bring to Alabama?

My head hurts just writing the absurdity of it all.

I feel you, Matt.

The fall is going to be interesting, as Alabama is far from the only national contender to be breaking in a new QB.

Young is expected to be a high pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and we got a glimpse of Milroe in extended action in 2022 against Arkansas and Texas A&M, as he started the latter game. In Alabama’s 24-20 win over the Aggies, he was 12-of-19 passing for 119 yards, throwing three touchdowns to one interception. The Crimson Tide did not find the end zone in the second half, leading to questions about the former four-star recruit.

Simpson is another name to watch in the battle, as the former five-star and No. 4 quarterback from the Class of 2022 saw some action this season. Four-star freshman Eli Holstein also enters the mix, but expect it to come down to Milroe or Simpson.

Next year’s national title may well come down to which of those three programs has the best “next man up.” I would love for Jalen Milroe to make the necessary leap as a passer, because he is an absolute freak as a runner from the QB position. I have always been of the mind, however, that the QB must be a very good passer and any running ability is a luxury. Ty Simpson is quite the runner in his own right, but he can’t match Jalen’s speed. Still, the competition will come down to who can deliver in the passing game. Folks like to talk about leadership at the position, but it’s funny how the guy who can play the best also tends to be the one who wins the team over.

Last, rookie Eagles special teamer and backup safety Reed Blankenship once felt quite slighted by Nick Saban.

Blankenship received an invitation to an Alabama football camp in 2016. But when Saban met with the top prospects at the event, Blankenship told Dunne, the coach gave the defensive back and his parents a perfunctory handshake and moved on.

Up to that point an avid Alabama fan, Blankenship said the interaction has motivated him.

“I’m like, ‘OK, I’m not worth anything to you right now? All right. Bet,’” Blankenship told Dunne. “It was a slap in the face. After that day, my interest in Alabama went straight down. It killed me, honestly. …

“He might as well of slapped me in the face. I would much rather have that. Like come on, man.”

Looking past that awful bastardization of the English language in that last quote, I’m happy that the young man found a source of motivation and made it all the way to a Super Bowl roster as an undrafted rookie. That said, if he really grew up an Alabama fan and then got the red ass at Saban for not telling him what he wanted to hear, that seems a little much considering he ended up at Middle Tennessee. Was he also mad at every other SEC school for not recruiting him?

Anyhow, we’ll be rooting for your Eagles, Reed. Hope you get a ring.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.