Previewing Alabama and Jacksonville State
The Crimson Tide will be looking to bounce back against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks after dropping their last game to the Oregon Ducks, and they'll try to do so in their next-to-last home non-conference game of the 2015-2016 season.
Sophomore guard Justin Coleman has shown over the past two games that he is capable of being the full-time point guard since the injury to freshman Dazon Ingram earlier this season. The 5'10" point guard has averaged 22 points/game and 5.5 assists/game during their past two games against the Ducks and the Winthrop Eagles. If he continues his stellar play into conference play, the Tide will have a legitimate shot at 20 wins on the season, and with Alabama currently sitting at #25 in the RPI rankings, that should be plenty to get them into the NCAA Tournament, their first appearance since 2012.
Junior forward Shannon Hale has missed the past two games, but is now listed as "day to day" for tonight's game with the Gamecocks. The Tide have struggled in the paint with Hale absent, and will need him to get back to full strength before they travel to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in their first SEC game of the season. He's averaged 12.9 points/game in the eight games that he has played, but his size has been missed more than anything else. Only three players on the team are taller than the 6'8" junior, so depth inside the paint will be crucial as the Crimson Tide prepare for SEC play.
The Gamecocks come into this match-up with a 4-10 record, dropping five of their last six games. They've had a tough season so far, but one of their bright spots is the play of sophomore guard Malcolm Drumwright. The 6'2" guard has been one of the top scorers in the country this season, averaging 16.1 points/game on 42.7% shooting. Along with his scoring presence, he doesn't turn the ball over much, considering he handles the ball the most for the Gamecocks (2.2 turnovers/game). If the Tide can limit his production (Drumwright has eclipsed 26 points three times so far this season), they should send the Gamecocks back to Jacksonville with their 11th loss of the season.