Grant preps team for matchup against UGA
Following a bounce-back win against LSU on Saturday, the Alabama men’s basketball team will travel to Athens, Ga., Tuesday, Feb. 12 to take on a red-hot Georgia Bulldogs team.
The Crimson Tide (15-8, 7-3 SEC) has won in its past three meetings over the Bulldogs (12-11, 6-4) and four out of the last five, including a 2011 SEC Tournament quarterfinals win at the Georgia Dome.
With just eight games left on its regular season schedule, the Tide will look to continue to improve its position in the SEC standings, where it currently sits tied for third with Ole Miss.
Head coach Anthony Grant said he expects another physical game ahead of them, like it has been all season.
“This league plays a physical brand of basketball,” Grant said. “We expect it to be a physical game again with their style of play, and obviously, we’re going to try to do a good job in matching that.”
The Bulldogs are winners of five straight games, tying them with Kentucky for the longest current streak in the SEC. Their team will look to continue their streak when they play host to the Tide.
Georgia has held its opponents to 39.1 percent shooting from the field, including just 34.5 percent over the past three games.
“I think when you look at Georgia, you got to look at their team,” Grant said. “They’re playing 11 guys, and those guys seem to understand what they need to do offensively to maintain their efficiency and then defensively, they’ve done a really good job.”
Although the Tide has been strong on the defensive end for much of the season in its own right, it has struggled in recent games offensively. Grant said the team can’t allow their offensive woes to carry over on the defensive end.
“I think for us it’s no secret that we’ve struggled from an offensive standpoint the last few games,” he said. “I think there’s ebbs and flows over the course of a game, there’s ebbs and flows over the course of a series of games. I think the thing that we want to do is make sure that we’re getting good shots. And for us, understanding no matter what happens on the offensive end, it can’t affect our focus and effort on the defensive end.”
Senior guard Andrew Steele said the team’s overall intensity will likely increase as the team heads into the final stretch of the regular season.
“As you get closer towards the tournament, the sense of urgency picks up, because you realize you’re kind of running out of time to make a case, whether or not you kind of play your way in or whether you try to solidify where you are,” Steele said.
“At the beginning [of the season] you want to set the tone for what kind of team you want to be, then once you get toward the end you want to make sure you finish strong.”
Sophomore guard Levi Randolph said the Tide must prepare accordingly when it faces Georgia in the always tough task of playing a conference road game.
“There’s a lot of distractions when you go on the road, but the mental aspect is what’s most important,” Randolph said. “You have to come focused and ready to play, and try to block everything out. It’s the players and coaches that are the ones on the court controlling everything, and you just have to stay focused and play the game.”
The game is scheduled to tip off Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU.
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