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

South Carolina poses challenge for Bama


Alabama head basketball coach Anthony Grant and his team have created a trend: they do their best work with their backs against the wall.

Grant’s first season at Virginia Commonwealth was highlighted by a major upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a win-or-go-home situation, over No. 6 seed Duke. His 2010-2011 campaign here in Tuscaloosa was full of these moments as well.

After suffering a tough loss in Fayetteville to the Razorbacks, Alabama could not afford to lose two conference games in a row after performing so poorly in the non-conference schedule if the Crimson Tide was going to keep its NCAA tournament dreams alive. The next opponent was the Kentucky Wildcats, and every Alabama basketball fan fondly remembers that upset.

Grant was able to do it again, ending the regular season against Georgia in a situation where it appeared only one of those two teams would make the NCAA tournament. With tournament pressure on his team, Grant led them to two wins over the Bulldogs in six days.

The 2011 – 2012 season is no different. The Tide is 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play and needs to find a way to win against the 8-10 (0-4) Gamecocks in order to salvage what was a much-improved season coming into SEC play.

Although South Carolina’s record so far in the season may not be overly impressive, the Tide knows it has a big challenge coming tonight, as it does with every SEC away game.

“Obviously, we’re very impressed with our league,” Grant said. “Any time you’re on the road in this league, you need to expect a tough game.”

Freshman guard Trevor Lacey said, “Every team is tough. A lot of teams feed off of their home crowd, and when the crowd gets going behind them, they play with more energy and that extra energy helps a lot.”

Grant scouted the Gamecocks yesterday, watching a few of their most recent games.

“They play a lot of guys, and their team is very dangerous from the three point line,” Grant said. “They do a really good job of mixing up their defenses, creating turnovers and creating transition opportunities. They’re a good rebounding team.”

Most SEC games featuring Alabama in Grant’s tenure have been a major clash – featuring Grant’s defensive mindset against several explosive offenses. This game is no different, except this clash will be more important from three-point land.

Alabama defends the three-point shot better than anyone else in the SEC, holding opponents to .276 shooting percentage from behind the arc. Of the eight Gamecocks that have attempted a three, only one does not shoot better than the .276 mark Alabama has allowed.

South Carolina has four players that shoot better than .375 from behind the arc, including sharpshooters Eric Smith (.432 three-point shooting) and Anthony Gill (.412 three-point shooting).

“[Stopping South Carolina’s three-point shot] is the challenge,” Grant said. “Like I said, they play a lot of guys that shoot the ball well, so we’re going to have to do a good job defensively.”

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