Dec. 18, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will begin a season-long five-game homestand when the Tide welcomes the Stillman Tigers to Coleman Coliseum on Friday night at 6 p.m. CT.
Friday night’s contest will be televised on SECN+, with Jim Dunaway (play-by-play) and Blake Thrasher (analyst) on the call. 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.
Christmas Toy Drive: Any fan who brings a new or unwrapped toy to donate will receive free admission to the game. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant is in his sixth season at the helm of the men’s basketball program. He owns a record of 105-74 (.587) during his time at the Capstone and is 181-99 (.646) now in his in ninth season as a head coach. Stillman head coach Donte Jackson, who came to the university from Central State University, is in his first season with the Tigers. Now in his fifth season as a head coach, Jackson owns a career record of 72-45 (.615).
Friday night’s contest will mark the second game in series history between Stillman and Alabama, both coming in each of the last two seasons. The Tide and Tigers met a year ago in the opening round of the 2013 NIT Season Tipoff, with Alabama taking a 102-65 victory.
MORE ABOUT FRIDAY’S MATCH-UP
Alabama (6-3) and Stillman (4-3) will actually be meeting for the third consecutive year on the hardwood, as the squads met in an exhibition game prior to the start of the 2012-13 season … Alabama captured a 76-68 victory in Coleman Coliseum in that contest … Stillman University is located in Tuscaloosa, exactly 3.3 miles (10 minutes) from The University of Alabama … Stillman is a Division II school and a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) … the Tigers’ Markeith Madison was named the SIAC Preseason Player of the Year, while Maurice Crenshaw was named to the preseason all-conference team … the contest will count as an exhibition game for the Tigers.
Alabama will play its second game in three days when it welcomes Appalachian State on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network. It will be the second contest ever played between the two teams, with the first game coming on Dec. 20, 1986. It will also mark the Tide’s final game before Christmas break.
COACH GRANT ON THE STILLMAN GAME
“We’re looking forward to getting back onto the court Friday against Stillman. We get to play against a school located within our city and, for us, it’s an opportunity to get on the court and compete again. We are looking forward to that challenge.
“Coming off our last game, obviously, we weren’t pleased with the outcome. As a team, it’s a game that made us better. Going into that environment (and) against that caliber of opponent, we felt like we did a lot of good things. We’re not happy with how we finished the game, but our team is certainly beginning to realize what they’re capable of.
“You look at the things we’re trying to emphasize. It’s getting better every day. We feel like we’re making strives to do that. From a defensive standpoint, I think we’re beginning to understand what we’re capable of. Going into (Wichita State) and holding them to 53 points, (which is) 25 below their season average. The things we’ve talked about from defending, rebounding and a ball security standpoint, we want to continue to improve in those areas.
“At the end of the day, we don’t believe in moral victories. Our guys play to win. We’re very disappointed that we didn’t get the win. I think that we realized that we’re nine games in and we want to continue to get better. This next game is an opportunity for us to do that. We’re going to take that approach, as we move forward with practice today and preparations for tomorrow.”
Alabama (6-3) begins a five-game homestand this weekend with a Friday, Sunday tilt vs. Stillman and Appalachian State, respectively. It will be the longest homestand since playing eight consecutive games at home during the 2008-09 campaign.
Senior guard Levi Randolph leads Alabama in scoring (17.2 ppg), assists (2.9 apg), steals (1.7) and minutes (34.2 mpg) through the Tide’s nine contests. He enters the Stillman game ranking second in the SEC in scoring average and is fifth in free throw shooting (87.3 percent).
Two other Crimson Tide players average double figures. Junior guard Ricky Tarrant ranks second on the team with 12.7 points per game, while also leading the squad in threes made (15) and attempted (45). Senior guard Rodney Cooper is third on this year’s squad with 12.4 ppg this season. He also ranks second on the team in three-point shooting (42.4 percent).
Sophomore forward Shannon Hale contributes 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds a contest, while sophomore forward Jimmie Taylor leads the team with 1.6 blocks and 5.3 rebounds per game, while also chipping in with 4.6 points per contest.
As a team, the Tide is outscoring the opposition by 5.8 points per game (75.1-69.3) through its nine games. Alabama leads the nation in free throw shooting percentage (.777), while also averaging 12.4 assists, 12.0 turnovers and 7.2 steals per game.
NOTES FROM ALABAMA-WICHITA STATE GAME
Alabama led the nation’s 11th-ranked team, 51-40, with 6:01 left to play. However, Wichita State, which extended its home winning streak to 23 games – fifth-longest in the country, ended the game on a 13-1 run to pull out an improbable 53-52 victory.
Sophomore center Jimmie Taylor arguably played the best game of his season, finishing the contest with six points, five rebounds and four blocks. When looking deeper into those numbers, Taylor led the Tide with a +13 in plus/minus statistics as the Tide outscored Wichita State 36-23 when he was in the game. Unfortunately for UA, Taylor was not on the floor during the final four minutes, as he fouled out at the 4:29 mark.
During the final six minutes, Alabama made four turnovers and went 0-of-4 from the floor. In comparison, Wichita State went 6-of-9 from the field over the same stretch.
Hale had 13 points off the bench to tie Levi Randolph for the team scoring leaders on the night. It was the first time this season Hale has led the Tide in scoring in a game, while it marked Randolph’s fourth time this season he’s led UA in that category.
Alabama’s 52 points were a season low, however, the Tide shot 46.5 percent from the floor despite the low scoring output. The Tide also had season lows in free throws made (7) and attempted (12), free throw percentage (.587) and steals (4).
The Tide had a 25-24 lead at halftime and did not give up the lead until Wichita State’s Darius Carter’s game-winning dunk with 11 seconds left in the game. In all, the contest featured three lead changes and five ties. In all, Alabama led for 21:53, while Wichita State led for just 14:03 (game was tied for 4:03).
Wichita State, one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country, outrebounded the Tide on the offensive glass, 12-6. However, the Shockers only had an 8-7 edge on second chance points in the game.
Alabama held Wichita State, which was averaging 78.1 ppg entering Tuesday’s contest, to a season-low 53 points in the losing effort. Prior to the game, the Shockers’ season low for points was 68 which they scored in a loss at Utah.
Senior guard Rodney Cooper has three 20-point games over the Tide’s last six contests. During that span, Cooper is averaging 14.3 points per game, while shooting 49.2 percent (30-of-61) from the floor and 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from three-point range.
Over the last four games, sophomore forward Michael Kessens is collecting 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He also has connected on 13-of-19 (.684) shots from the floor during the three-game stretch.
Senior guard Levi Randolph is the only Alabama player to score in double figures in all nine contests. In addition, the Madison, Ala., product has recorded five or more rebounds in all but three games this season.
Shannon Hale came off the bench at Wichita State to account for 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.
VAST IMPROVEMENT ON DEFENSE
Alabama has tightened up its defense over the last couple of games, allowing 53 points to both Tennessee Tech and Wichita State. Those point totals equal the fewest points the Tide has given up in any game this season.
During the two-game stretch, Alabama has held the opposition to just 37.6 field goal percentage and 30.3 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 two-game stretch. Below is a breakdown between the Tide’s last two games compared to the four previous (Iowa State, Arizona State, South Florida, Xavier).
Defense In… FG% Def. 3FG% Def. Scoring Defense
Last Two Games .376 .303 53.0
Previous Four Games .516 .429 80.8
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 .423 .441 .315 .408 16.2 16.9 -0.7 35.2 33.2 +2.0
2nd Half .496 .455 .383 .300 15.8 15.4 +0.4 39.9 36.1 +3.8
ANOTHER STRONG NON-CONFERENCE SLATE
Alabama has opened the season with a 6-3 record while playing against quality competition.
Alabama has only played one team that currently has a record under .500 (Western Carolina), with five opponents boasting of three or fewer losses on the year.
Alabama’s competition for the year has a combined record of 56-29 (.659).
Last season, the Tide’s non-conference schedule was rated No. 9 in the nation, according to ESPN.com. Alabama has already played the likes of Iowa State (Nov. 24), Arizona State (Nov. 25), South Florida (Dec. 2), Xavier (Dec. 6) and Wichita State (Dec. 16), and a date against UCLA (Dec. 28) looms later this month.
The backcourt trio of Levi Randolph, Ricky Tarrant and Rodney Cooper is establishing itself as one of the top trips in the SEC.
Together, Randolph (17.2 ppg), Tarrant (12.7 ppg) and Cooper (12.3) are combining to average 42.2 points per game – approximately 56 percent of the team’s 75.1 points per game average.
The three-headed monster of Randolph, Tarrant and Cooper currently rank as the second-best scoring trio in the SEC (through games of Dec. 17). Below are the top five scoring trios in the SEC.
Trio Team Combined PPG
1. Jordan Mickey (16.3)/Jarell Martin (15.9)/Keith Hornsby (12.7) LSU 44.9 ppg
2. Levi Randolph (17.2)/Ricky Tarrant (12.7)/Rodney Cooper (12.3) Alabama 42.2 ppg
3. Bobby Portis (15.8) /Michael Qualls (14.3)/Anthlon Bell (11.4) Arkansas 41.5 ppg
4. Damian Jones (17.2)/Riley Chance (13.6)/Luke Kornet (10.7) Vanderbilt 41.5 ppg
5. KT Harrell (17.6)/Cinmeon Bowers (13.0)/Shamsid-Deen (7.4) Auburn 38.0 ppg
HOME SWEET HOME
Now in his sixth seasons at UA, Grant has a record of 77-17 (.819) on Alabama’s home floor. During the 2013-14 season, the Tide finished 13-4 at home and outscored teams by an average of 9.5 points a game (73.4-63.8). This year, Alabama is 5-0 in home games and is outscoring the competition by 14.2 points per game (81.2-66.5).
Dating back to the end of the 2013-14 campaign, the Crimson Tide has won nine straight games at Coleman Coliseum.
Since the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Grant has won 66 of the last 77 games played under the arched roof of Coleman Coliseum (66-11; .857).
Overall, Alabama owns a record of 535-120 (.815) in the facility’s 47th season of use.
Grant also led UA to 24 straight home victories that spanned the final home game of the 2009-10 season through the beginning of the 2011-12 season.