Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide prepares for SEC tournament play

When the Alabama men’s basketball team travels to Atlanta, Ga., to compete in the SEC Tournament on Thursday, it and coach Anthony Grant will have one objective: upsets. As the No. 10 seed, Alabama will avoid the first round of the tournament and will take on No. 7 seed LSU at 6 p.m. Thursday. If Alabama can beat the Tigers, it will play No. 2 seed Kentucky for a spot in the final.

“We’re looking forward to heading down to Atlanta to participate in the SEC Tournament,” Grant said. “It’s a great opportunity for our team. As we mentioned last time we got together, we’re coming off a great win in our last game, and we have a lot of positive momentum heading into the tournament. I think our guys are excited about the opportunity to try to compete for a championship.”

The Crimson Tide has won three of its last five games, including dominant wins over Auburn and No. 5 seed Arkansas. Grant pointed to Alabama’s defensive record over the past three games, with the team holding opponents to 56.7 points per game, 30.1 percent shooting and 23.8 percent shooting from three.

(See also “Men’s basketball team begins crucial stretch against Arkansas“)

“The numbers are saying we’re playing a lot better from a defensive standpoint in terms of being able to limit our opponents’ opportunities, which is creating opportunities for us on the offensive end,” Grant said. “I think any time you can get into a flow offensively, that certainly helps. I think winning helps create confidence and momentum.”

LSU, on the other hand, has won only two of its last five games, against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Grant, however, said he isn’t dismissing the matchup against a team Alabama narrowly beat 82-80 in the last matchup.

“LSU’s a team that’s very talented,” Grant said. “They’re coming off a tough loss in their last game, but when we played them over a month ago, I was really impressed with their size and physicality defensively. There’s a lot of things we have to be prepared for both offensively and defensively.”

Specifically, Alabama will be on the lookout for Johnny O’Bryant III, who is LSU’s leading scorer this season and the ninth leading scorer in the conference.

(See also “Alabama men’s basketball team seeking shelter from storm“)

“We recruited [O’Bryant],” Grant said. “Last year, he was one of the elite guys in the league and elected to come back for his junior year, and he’s continued with his maturation and development as a player. He’s really expanded his game in terms of his ability to make perimeter shots. He’s always been a guy that, around the basket, is a problem. … I think he’s probably one of the elite players in our league.”

Despite a disappointing season and facing Alabama’s last chance to extend its season, Grant said the team will prepare no differently.

“Nothing changes,” Grant said. “We’re going to prepare to win. We take it one game at a time, and our total focus is on making sure that we’re prepared as best we can.”

(See also “Alabama men’s basketball falls flat against Tennessee“)

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