Depleted Tide Welcomes Vols to Tuscaloosa
One would think that the low point of Alabama's season would have been last Saturday's 67-58 loss in Baton Rouge to LSU. The Tide went in to that game with 4 of their starters suspended. After getting sophomore guard Trevor Releford and senior guard Andrew Steele back in time for Tuesday's game against, a 61-52 loss to the Florida Gators, it seemed that the worst of Alabama's season would be behind them. Well, The Tide's 12:30 pm CT tip-off against the red-hot Tennessee Volunteers at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday is shaping up to be an utter disaster for the the Tide.
Head coach Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide (16-9, 5-6 SEC) are expected to still be without the services of senior forward JaMychal Green and junior forward Tony Mitchell, their two leading scorers. As if being without those two players is not enough, Steele is fighting thru a sprained ankle suffered against Florida while Releford is nursing a sore noggin after taking a blow to the head during Thursday's practice. Freshman forward Nick Jacobs, who has carried a large load in the front-court with Green and Mitchell being out, is recovering from an infection in his mouth after having to have a root canal done after taking a shot to his mouth in a practice prior to the Florida game. All 3 players are questionable for Saturday's game. For those of you keeping track at home, that is 78% of the Tide's offense. The Tide will look to their bench and a celebrated group of freshmen to attempt to carry them against the Vols. Freshmen guards Trevor Lacey, Rodney Cooper, and Levi Randolph should all see significant playing time Saturday. Cooper had 28 points in the loss LSU, playing in place of Steele and Mitchell. Coach Grant knows that the Tide has their work cut out for them against a Vols team that is streaking at just the right time.
"I am very impressed with the way they [Tennessee] seem to have really bought in on the defensive side of the ball," Grant said of the Volunteers. "They're playing outstanding defense and are shooting the ball extremely well. Their front-court is probably one of the more physical front-courts in our league."
The Volunteers (14-12, 6-5 SEC) find themselves streaking at the right time, having won four in a row. Tennessee is led in scoring by Trae Golden, who averages 13.1 points per game. Jeronne Maymone is also a scoring threat for the Vols, averaging 12 points a game. He is also the Vols' leading rebounder, pulling down almost 8 a contest.
Saturday's game will be broadcast on the SEC Network where available. It will also be available for viewing on ESPN3.com.