Women’s basketball ready for matchup against Florida

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Women’s basketball ready for matchup against Florida

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

RJ Nealon, Staff writer

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After a tough and gritty loss to No. 6 Mississippi State 65-49 on Sunday, the Crimson Tide looks ahead to its match-up against Florida to get back on track.

In the two foes first match-up, Alabama defeated Florida 74-67 back on Jan. 3 in the first SEC game of the season.

“I think we’re both very different, it seems so long ago,” Kristy Curry said. “You can see the improvement from our team, and you can see the improvement from their team, and so, what we did the first time if that looks big to us we haven’t done anything. And obviously, we didn’t come out and play very well.

“Florida is a team that gets off to really good starts, and they just did the same at Kentucky,” Curry continued. “We have to defend on the road, and we have to rebound. It’s an exciting challenge for us.”

Junior Cierra Johnson has scored in double digits in her last five games and 17 of the previous 19 contests. She leads the team with 14.5 points per game and in total assists with 64 through 22 games. When SEC play started, Johnson moved from shooting guard to point guard due to the injured Jordan Lewis.

Since the position change, Johnson is averaging 16.1 points (8th SEC), 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

She didn’t have the traditional journey to Division I, as she took the junior college route, but since coming to Alabama, she has become the leader the team has been searching for.

“I think now that she is one of the people that play the most minutes, she has realized her role and we need her on offense and defense,” sophomore Ariyah Copeland said of Johnson’s play. “I think it starts in practice; the biggest thing is that she’s continuing to get better; not just for her but everyone else on the team.”

Copeland herself has settled into being one of the Crimson Tide’s most important factors. In Alabama’s 22 games Copeland is leading the team with 1.3 blocks per game (7th in SEC) and second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per game (17th in SEC). She is averaging 8.0 points per game, a five-point increase from a season ago.

Copeland is second on the team with three double-doubles and has started the last 13 games.

The Gators are on a five-game losing streak with its last loss coming to No. 19 Kentucky, 62-51. Funda Nakkasoglu leads Florida with 16.4 points per game while being 43.5 percent beyond the arc. Delicis Washington is averaging 10.4 points and eight rebounds per game.

Florida holds a 5-6 record at home while having a 0-10 record in away games. The Gators are second in the SEC in three-point attempts and fourth in the SEC with three-point attempts made.

The Crimson Tide 11-11 (3-6 SEC), takes on the Gators 5-17 (1-8 SEC) on Thursday, Feb. 7 in Gainesville, Fla. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.