Who: South Carolina, 17-11 (9-6) @ Alabama, 15-13 (7-8)
When: 7:30 pm CT, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, AL.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
It’s crunch time for Alabama basketball as they’re coming off of a hard fought road loss to Mississippi State, 80-73. The Tide sit at 15-13 overall which means they need at least 4 more wins before Selection Sunday to have any shot of making the Big Dance. They’ll have to find a way to win these next 3 without star guard John Petty, though, who suffered a sprained elbow. He is expected to be back in time for the SEC tournament. First up on the remaining schedule are the South Carolina Gamecocks. Frank Martin’s scrappy team once again finds themselves in the upper half of the SEC after a slow start to the season. They are very tough defensively and hold their opponents to 68.3 PPG (according to TeamRankings) compared to Alabama’s opponents scoring 78.8 PPG. SC’s opponents only shoot 39% as well while Bama’s shoot 42%. Offensively Alabama is one of the highest scoring teams in the country with 83 PPG while the Gamecocks are scoring 72.6 PPG. This game will come down to 2 things. First off, Alabama can not afford to get into early foul trouble with Petty being out. They’ve got to play hard but smart. Secondly, Alabama must take care of the ball. The Tide are one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country averaging 15 per game. On the other side, South Carolina’s defense forces 15.8 per game. If the Gamecocks can force Alabama to turn the ball over a lot without John Petty, it could be a long night.
Players to Watch:
G A.J. Lawson (13.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.9 APG)
G Jermaine Couisnard (12.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.9 APG)
F Malik Kotsar (11.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.2 APG)
I expect this to be a back and forth game from the start with neither team ever pulling away. Bama will come out ready to play against an SC team that’s playing some of its best ball. Bama stays out of foul trouble, keeps the rebounding battle even, and Kira/Shack lead Alabama to a much needed win behind a good shooting effort.
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