TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After 24 games, it’s time for the University of Alabama basketball team to grow up. That’s the message from Avery Johnson, who says that the Crimson Tide have enough talent to compete with any team in the nation.
They just need to play that way more often.
“The things that are not excusable are how we don’t take care of the ball, our spacing was poor,” Johnson said. “We didn’t make the extra pass enough. We weren’t ready to shoot.”
The coach was primarily taking about Alabama’s 67-63 loss at Mississippi State earlier this week. From the scoring droughts to the lack of offensive consistency there was a lot to talk about during the subsequent film session with players.
“It was definitely intense,” junior forward Daniel Giddens said.
Things won’t get an easier, either, as three of Alabama’s next four opponents are ranked in the AP Top 25, beginning with Saturday’s game against No. 15 Tennessee. The Crimson Tide are 4-1 against ranked opponents, but for every big win they seem to notch there’s been a corresponding disappointing loss to an unranked opponent like MSU.
Not only are the Volunteers coming of a big win at No. 24 Kentucky, 61-59, to sweep that series, but they’ve won six straight games and nine of the last 10.
“We’re playing against a very hot team,” Johnson said. “In my opinion one of the hottest teams in the country.”
- Records: Alabama (15-9, 6-5); No. 15 Tennessee (18-5, 8-3 SEC)
- Where: Coleman Coliseum
- When: 6 p.m. ET
What’s the best way to keep up with the game
Fans have numerous options:
TV: SEC Network
Radio: In Tuscaloosa, WFFN 95.3 FM. Otherwise, games can be found on affiliates of the Crimson Tide Sports Network, or on TideTV.
Live stats: rolltide.com
Twitter updates: @AlabamaMBB
Dave Neal (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) will have the television broadcast, with Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) on radio.
What you should know
- Freshman guard Collin Sexton is third in league scoring, averaging 18.6 points, to go with 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Junior forward Donta Hall has 10.8 points and 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Also averaging double digits are freshman guard John Petty (10.7) and sophomore guard Dazon Ingram (10.3).
- Alabama leads the overall series 78-68, and is 44-18 against the Vols in Tuscaloosa.
- Tennessee is rated 10th in the NCAA RPI.
- Volunteers reserve guard Lamonte Turner hails from Florence, Ala., but attended IMG Academy in Florida. He’s averaging 11.0 points and 3.2 rebounds off the bench, and leads the SEC in free-throw shooting (37-39, .949). UT coach Rick Barnes spent the 1985-86 season as an Alabama assistant coach under Wimp Sanderson.
- Tennessee outscored Alabama 37-18 in the second half to win the last meeting between the teams, 59-54 in the 2017 regular season finale at Thompson-Boling Arena. Sophomore forward Grant Williams notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the comeback was led by six 3-pointers.
- Williams leads Tennessee in scoring, averaging 15.9 points, while junior forward Admiral Schofield is second at 12.5 to go with 6.3 rebounds.
- Alabama will host LSU on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (SEC Network).