No. 18 Alabama set to take on South Alabama

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

On Friday, Alabama (2-0) defeated Liberty University (1-1) 95-59 behind an impressive offensive showcase.  

Now, as the Crimson Tide continues its hot start, it will be tasked with facing a lengthy University of South Alabama (1-1) team on the road led by head coach Richie Riley. 

We’ve got a tough game in front of us, to be honest with you,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said Monday. “They played us tough here last year in our gym. Now they feel like they’ve got a more talented roster, and we’ve got to go on the road. We’re going to have to play well. 

After a solid 21-11 (9-7) showcase last season, the Jaguars return a veteran roster stacked with defensive versatility and offensive firepower.  

Led by Isaiah Moore, who is averaging 16.5 points per game, Riley’s fifth year squad will look to avenge last season’s 73-68 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  

South Alabama currently rosters eight players listed at 6-foot-5 and above — the largest number of any team the Crimson Tide will face this year. Among that group is Kevin Samuel, the Jaguars’ 7-foot center who, through two games, is averaging 13 ppg and 9 rebounds. 

A slow-paced offense, South Alabama is currently ranked 216th in adjusted tempo according to KenPom. While the Jaguars, much like Longwood University and Liberty, take things at their own pace, don’t be fooled there’s not many mid-major backcourts with scoring potential quite like the one residing in Mobile, Alabama.  

Along with Moore, South Alabama added dynamic Virginia Military Institute transfer Greg Parham in the offseason. A shifty, 6-foot-4 guard with an innate ability to get to the rack, the senior will pose a defensive challenge to Alabama’s Mark Sears, Jaden Bradley and Nimari Burnett.  

A familiar face, the Jaguars also roster former Auburn guard Tyrell “Turbo” Jones, who is currently averaging 9 ppg and 1.5 assists.  

After 97-59 victory over the University of Mobile, and an 80-74 loss to the University of New Mexico, South Alabama is still figuring out its identity — much like any team at this point in the season.  

Through the small sampling of two games, the Jaguars are currently 50th nationally in two-point percentage (58.5%) — a product of their overwhelming size. South Alabama also ranks 12th in block percentage offensively, scoring effectively without many of its shot attempts being altered. The Jaguars also rank 25th nationally in steal percentage, 17th in free throw percentage and 54th in effective field goal percentage.  

However, with every positive comes a negative. 

South Alabama currently ranks 359th in turnover percentage, 357th in steal percentage, 333rd in non-steal turnover percentage, 212th in free throw attempts/field goal attempts and 310th in offensive rebound percentage. 

Not exactly a recipe for success facing an Alabama roster that loves getting to the line and controlling the glass.  

Length versus length. Depth versus depth. Once again, the Crimson Tide finds itself in a battle with a capable mid-major opponent — this time on the road. Can Alabama match last season’s 3-0 start? That remains to be seen.  

Tipoff from the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Alabama, is set for Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]