Tide faces first major road test in SEC/Big East Challenge

Alabama’s men’s basketball team will face its first true road test when it travels to
Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 1 to take on the Bearcats in the second annual SEC/Big East
Challenge.

The Crimson Tide and Bearcats both boast 6-0 records in the only matchup that features
two undefeated teams, but Cincinnati has received more acclaim for its unblemished season so
far. The Bearcats are ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA Today’s Coaches Poll.
But the Tide is rising and has received votes to be ranked in both polls, but it hasn’t
broken into the Top 25 just yet.

Head coach Anthony Grant praised Cincinnati for its defensive style of play and showed
respect to its storied basketball conference.

“Cincinnati is a team, from a defensive standpoint, that is long, athletic,” Grant
said. “They’re a really good physical team. I think when most people think of Big East
basketball, you think of physical basketball.”

Alabama has also made a name for itself with its defensive demeanor. Over the course of
six games the Tide has held its opponents to 54.3 points per game and forced 109 turnovers.
The Bearcats talented backcourt will attract a lot of the Tide’s attention in this meeting.
Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick and senior guards Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker are
regarded as one of the best backcourts in the Big East.

“I think they’ve got three guys that are veteran guys that are obviously leading them in
scoring,” Grant said. “I think their backcourt, all of the starters, are shooting over forty percent
from the three-point line. They’re a very good team.”

But Grant commended the rest of Cincinnati’s roster for the team’s success in the early
portion of its schedule.

“Offensively, they’ve got a variety of guys that can score,” Grant said. “They play in
transition really well. They play together really well. They’ve got a good balance.”

Alabama traveled to New York City to compete in the 2K Sports Classic earlier in
November, but there was no actual home team to play against. Sophomore guard Levi Randolph
said he and his teammates are excited about playing in a hostile environment on the road like
Cincinnati.

“It’s always fun to play in different places, being able to play in front of different
crowds.” Randolph said. “Playing in front of an away crowd is exciting.”

Grant said that his team his slowly returning to full strength and it will need to stay
healthy as the Tide faces three away games in its next four contests.

Trevor Releford should be available after missing the game against Lamar with flu-like
symptoms. Andrew Steele is still day-to-day.

Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.