The Alabama men’s basketball team will be seeking the shelter of home when it takes on an impressive Ole Miss team Tuesday night. While Tuscaloosa faces the prospect of more winter weather and class cancellations, the Crimson Tide will be looking to its home crowd to help end a four-game losing streak against the Rebels, who have quietly been one of the top teams in the conference this season.
“We’ve been very impressed [by] Ole Miss on film,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “Obviously they’re off to a great start. They’re 7-3 in the league and playing well … It should be a great test for our guys. We’re excited to get back on the court again and get back home.”
Alabama’s performance has been drastically better in the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum, where the Crimson Tide shoots 47.8 percent and 36.5 percent from three-point range. On the road, Alabama shoots 40.4 percent and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc, a statistic that has contributed to an 0-10 record when away from Tuscaloosa.
For the Rebels, senior Marshall Henderson has been the key to their surprise success. The guard,mfamous for his on- and off-court antics as well as his hot hand last season, has averaged 19.3 points per game and ranks third in the NCAA with 4.45 three-pointers per game.
Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan said Henderson’s speed and competitiveness make him a unique challenge to guard.
“He runs full speed all around the court,” Obasohan said. “It’s hard to tag a player that runs that fast and has such a quick trigger and who really shoots the lights out.”
Grant, however, repeated one of his season-long themes and warned against becoming too concerned with Henderson.
“The way he scores the basketball gives them a different dimension than most teams,” Grant said. “He had 8 threes in the last game, but I think you make a mistake if you regard Ole Miss as a one-man team. [Jarvis] Summers is as good as any guard in our league. He is really, really talented. If you’ve been around our league long enough, we all know what Ladarius White is capable of. On any given night he could go for 20 plus. They’ve got [forward Anthony] Perez, a sophomore, 6-9, shooting about 42 percent from the 3-point line … Henderson is an important part of what they do, but by no means is this a one-man team. They’ve got a lot of really good players.”
Alabama will try to become as multidimensional as Ole Miss.
While senior Trevor Releford has provided the lion-share of scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game, the Crimson Tide has taken key contributions from Obasohan, junior Levi Randolph, freshman Shannon Hale and freshman Jimmie Taylor.
“[Taylor] just turned 18 this year,” Grant said. “He’s a young man that’s learning college basketball, learning his game and where he’s effective and what he’s able to do. I was really encouraged to see him be aggressive offensively. We’re gonna need more of that out of him, and … the more he develops, I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
In spite of weather conditions, the game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
Alabama men’s basketball
What: Alabama vs Ole Miss
Where: Coleman Coliseum
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Records: Alabama (9-14, 3-7 SEC), Ole Miss (16-7, 7-3 SEC)
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