Jan. 1, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will play its final non-conference game of the 2014-15 regular season as the Tide hosts North Florida on Friday night at 6 p.m. CT.
Friday night’s contest will be available on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. The game can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) calling all the action. There will be live updates throughout the game available on Twitter @AlabamaMBB.
Alabama owns a 3-0 lead in the all-time series, having won each of the previous contests by 20 or more points. The Crimson Tide captured a 73-51 win on Dec. 2, 2009 and a 64-44 victory on Nov. 11, 2011. Last season, Alabama secured a 76-48 victory on Dec. 4, 2013. All three games were played in Coleman Coliseum.
MORE ABOUT FRIDAY’S MATCH-UP
Friday’s contest will mark North Florida’s third game in five days, while Alabama will be playing its first game since Dec. 28 … it will also be the Tide’s fourth game in a season-long five-game homestand … it is the second consecutive season that the Tide and Ospreys will meet on the hardwood, as Alabama captured a 76-48 victory on Dec. 4, 2013 in Tuscaloosa … it will be the fourth time the teams will meet on the hardwood, with all four contests coming in the last six years.
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant is in his sixth season at the helm of the men’s basketball program. He owns a record of 108-74 (.593) during his time at the Capstone and is 184-99 (.650) now in his in ninth season as a head coach. North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll is in his sixth season with the Ospreys and owns a record of 80-96 (.455). Now in his ninth season as a head coach, which includes three seasons at Division III school LaRoche College (Pa.), Driscoll owns a career record of 106-173 (.340) overall.
Alabama open Southeastern Conference play against Texas A&M on Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. CT. The contest, which will air on the SEC Network, will be the final game of a season-long five-game homestand for the Tide.
Alabama (9-3) continues its season-long five-game homestand on Friday when it hosts North Florida. It will mark the Tide’s first game in five days, while the Ospreys will be playing their third contest in five days.
Senior guard Levi Randolph leads Alabama in scoring (16.4 ppg), assists (3.0 apg), steals (1.8) and minutes (34.2 mpg) through the Tide’s 12 contests. The Madison, Ala., native currently ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring, field goal percentage (.496), and is seventh in steals per game and free throw percentage (.831) entering Friday’s contest.
Junior guard Ricky Tarrant ranks second on the team with 13.5 points per game, while also leading the squad in threes made (17) and attempted (57). Senior guard Rodney Cooper is third on this year’s squad with 10.6 ppg this season and ranks second on the team in threes made (15) and three-point shooting (39.5 percent).
Sophomore forward Shannon Hale is the fourth on the team in scoring, contributing 9.5 points along with 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists a contest. In addition, sophomore forward Jimmie Taylor leads the team with 2.1 blocks and 5.7 rebounds per game, while also chipping in with 4.6 points per contest.
As a team, the Tide is outscoring the opposition by 6.6 points per game (71.8-65.2) through its 12 games. Alabama owns a narrow +0.1 advantage on the glass (34.2-34.1), while also averaging 7.8 steals and 4.0 blocks per game.
NOTES FROM ALABAMA-UCLA GAME
Last Sunday night’s contest marked the fifth game in series history between UCLA and Alabama. With the 56-50 victory, the Tide now trails in the all-time series, 3-2 and snapped a three-game losing streak to UCLA.
Alabama’s only other win in the series came on Jan. 28, 1983 when the Tide defeated then-No. 1 UCLA, 70-67. That day was the same day that legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was laid to rest.
Alabama held an opponent to below 60 points for the fifth consecutive game, while the 50 points scored by UCLA were the second fewest points the Tide has allowed all season. Over the last five games, Alabama is holding the opposition to 35.8 percent field goal percentage, 27.1 three-point field goal percentage and 52.8 points per game.
Senior guard Levi Randolph finished the night with 15 points and now has 1,010 points for his career. In doing so, Randolph became the 47th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
Junior guard Ricky Tarrant finished the contest with a game-high 24 points, which marked his third 20-point game of the season. It was the most points he has scored in his Alabama career, topping the 23 he had at Xavier on Dec. 6. Tarrant ties Rodney Cooper for the team lead in that category.
Tarrant and Randolph combined to score 39 of the Tide’s 56 points on the night. The twosome went a combined 11-of-28 (.392) from the floor and 14-of-20 (.700) from the free throw line. The rest of the team shot only 6-of-23 (.261) from the floor and 4-of-10 (.400) from the charity stripe.
UCLA entered the game as one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the nation. However, the Tide held the Bruins to only nine offensive rebounds and finished the night with a big 10-4 advantage in second chance points.
Senior guard Rodney Cooper only scored one point, but had a seven rebounds, including four on the offensive boards – both season-high numbers.
Senior guard Levi Randolph is the only Alabama player to score in double figures in all 12 contests. In addition, the Madison, Ala., product has recorded four or more rebounds in all but two games this season.
Junior guard Ricky Tarrant is coming off a UA career-high scoring output of 24 points in the Tide’s last game against UCLA. Over his last two games, Tarrant is leading the Tide with 17.5 points per game.
Over his last five games, sophomore forward Jimmie Taylor has blocked 25 shots, including a career-high seven swats in the win over Appalachian State (12/21). Over the five-game stretch, Taylor is averaging team highs of 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.
In his last three games, freshman forward Riley Norris is averaging 7.3 points and 6.7 rebounds a game, while shooting 64 percent from the floor (9-of-14).
TARRANT CLAIMS ALABAMA’S SECOND SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD
Alabama junior guard Ricky Tarrant was named the Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, league officials announced on Monday. Tarrant becomes the second Crimson Tide player to earn the award, joining senior guard Levi Randolph who was honored by the league office for the week of Nov. 24.
With both Tarrant’s and Randolph’s honor, it marks the first time since the 2003-04 season that multiple Alabama players have won the SEC Player of the Week award. That season, Earnest Shelton (one) and Kennedy Winston (three) claimed weekly accolades.
Tarrant was named SEC Player of the Week after leading the Crimson Tide to a win over UCLA Sunday night in the Tide’s lone contest of the week. The junior guard struck for an Alabama career-high 24 points, including 18 points in the first half alone, en route to a 56-50 victory over the Bruins.
Tarrant was dominant over the opening 20 minutes, hitting 6-of-10 shots and scoring 18 of the Tide’s 29 first half points. He finished the contest hitting 8-of-10 free throws, including sinking the eventual game-winning free throw that gave Alabama a 51-50 lead with 49 seconds remaining.
VAST IMPROVEMENT ON DEFENSE
Alabama has tightened up its defense over the last five games, allowing less than 60 points in each contest (53 points to both Tennessee Tech and Wichita State, 49 points to Stillman, 59 vs. Appalachian State and 50 vs. UCLA).
During the five-game stretch, Alabama has held the opposition to just 35.8 field goal percentage and 27.1 three-point field goal percentage.
In comparison, the Tide allowed opponents to average 80.8 points per game in the four games prior to this most recent five-game stretch. Below is a breakdown between the Tide’s last five games compared to the four previous (Iowa State, Arizona State, South Florida, Xavier).
Defense In… FG% Def. 3FG% Def. Scoring Defense
Last Five Games .358 .271 52.8
Previous Four Games .516 .429 80.8
The backcourt duo of Levi Randolph and Ricky Tarrant are proving to be one of the top twosomes int he SEC this season.
Together, Randolph (16.4 ppg) and Tarrant (13.5 ppg) combine to average 29.9 points per game – approximately 42 percent of the team’s 71.8 points per game average.
Randolph and Tarrant currently rank as the fourth-best scoring duo in the SEC (through games of Dec. 30). Below are the top five scoring combinations in the SEC.
Duo Team Combined PPG
1. Jarell Martin (17.5)/Jordan Mickey (15.6) LSU 33.1 ppg
2. Bobby Portis (17.2) /Michael Qualls (15.8) Arkansas 33.0 ppg
3. KT Harrell (17.3)/Cinmeon Bowers (13.2) Auburn 30.5 ppg
4. Levi Randolph (16.4)/Ricky Tarrant (13.5) Alabama 29.9 ppg
5. Damian Jones (16.5)/Riley Chance (12.5) Vanderbilt 29.0 ppg
SECOND HALF TEAM
Alabama has proven it gets stronger as the game wears on.
When looking further into the numbers, the Tide’s shooting percentages and scoring output gets better as the game progresses, while the opposition’s numbers decrease.
Below is a breakdown of UA’s first and second half numbers compared to opponents through the first nine games of the season.
OPP OPP OPP OPP
FG% FG% 3FG% 3FG% Reb. Reb. Diff. Points Points Diff.
1st Half .400 .401 .291 .355 17.8 18.1 -0.3 33.9 30.5 +3.4
2nd Half .486 .444 .330 .307 16.3 16.0 +0.3 37.8 34.6 +3.2
GETTING BETTER AS THE GAME GOES ON
In order to be a better second half team, someone has to step up and get better as the game goes on. That person for the Tide is senior captain Levi Randolph.
Randolph’s numbers improve throughout the game and has turned into a go-to performer down the stretch.
Below is a breakdown of Randolph’s numbers in the first and second halves this season.
Randolph In… MPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG PPG
1st Half 16.8 .448 .421 .808 2.6 6.8
2nd Half 17.5 .536 .333 .844 2.3 9.7
ALABAMA UPCOMING MILESTONES TO WATCH
Senior Rodney Cooper is nearing the 1,000-point milestone. He currently has 872 points and needs 128 points to achieve the feat.
Anthony Grant is 17 games shy of his 300th career game as a head coach (VCU and Alabama). Grant is also just 18 games from coaching his 200th game at the University of Alabama.
When Alabama hosts Kentucky on Jan. 17, it will mark the 100th home game in Grant’s tenure at the Capstone.
Alabama has 1,590 wins in program history, The Tide needs 13 wins to become the 29th D-I program to reach the 1,600-win plateau.
Senior guard Levi Randolph is two starts shy of reaching 100 career starts in an Alabama uniform.