Tide Basketball Goes To Cincinnati

Anthony Grant

Alabama followers include a large number of fans who are Crimson Tide basketball fans, but it is not likely that many will see the end of the Bama game against Cincinnati on Saturday. The battle of unbeatens in the Big East-Southeastern Conference Challenge has an unfortunate tipoff time.



Alabama and Cincinnati are both 6-0 and will be playing for the third time in history with both the Crimson Tide and the Bearcats having one win each. The game, the first between the two in Cincinnati, is the only one of the conference challenge matches that features two unbeaten teams.

The problem from an Alabama fan standpoint is that the game begins at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. central time) Saturday at Fifth Third Arena. Those Crimson Tide followers who are not in Atlanta for the SEC Football Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia can be expected to switch from ESPN2 – which is televising the basketball game – to CBS – which is televising the football game beginning at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central).

The problem from Alabama Coach Anthony Grant's standpoint is that Cincinnati has a good team, a veteran team, an up-tempo team, and a physical team.

The Bearcats are ranked 17th in the Associated Press Poll and 15th in the Coaches Poll. Bama is not ranked, but is receiving votes that would rank the Tide 26th in the AP poll and 29th in the Coaches Poll.

As for Cincinnati, Grant said, "I'm very impressed." He pointed out that the Bearcats of Coach Mick Cronin have an outstanding backcourt of Sean Kilpatrick, 6-4, averaging 21 points per game; Cashmere Wright, 6-0, averaging 16.5; and Jaquon Parker, 6-3, averaging 10.5. And, Grant added, "all three of them are making more than 40 per cent of their three-point shots."

Alabama's leading scorer, junior point guard Trevor Releford, missed the Tide's last game, a win over Lamar, with illness. Grant expects Releford to be ready to play Saturday. Also missing the Tuesday night game against Lamar was senior wing Andrew Steele. Grant said Steele is "day-to-day."

Releford averages 18.6 points per game. Wing Rodney Cooper returned to action Tuesday after having missed a game with tendonitis in his shoulder and led the Tide with 17 points and he is averaging 15.8 points per game. Trevor Lacey, who has played both point and wing this season, is averaging 13.5 points per game.

Cincinnati is coming off two wins in a Las Vegas tournament, defeating Iowa State, 78-70, and Oregon, 77-66.

The Bearcats are a high-scoring outfit, 86.8 points per game. Grant said that Alabama will want to control the tempo against Cincinnati. Bama is playing typical Grant defense, allowing only 54.3 points per game. The Tide scores 71 points per game and Cincy gives up 60.7.

Grant said, "They have good offense and good defense. They have good balance and are a very good team."

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