Tide Looking for Eighth SEC Win in Lexington on Tuesday
Avery Johnson and the Crimson Tide are coming off a disappointing loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday by a score of 67-61, but must put that behind them and do battle with a hot Kentucky Wildcats' squad in Lexington on Tuesday.
Kentucky enters the match-up with a 20-7 overall record and 10-4 in SEC play, led by outstanding point guard Tyler Ulis, a candidate for not only SEC Player of the Year, but in the conversation for the National Player of the Year. The individual match-up between him and Alabama guard Retin Obasohan will be a fun one to watch. Obasohan has averaged 22.1 points/game over the past ten games, so expect Wildcat head coach John Calipari to key in on him and try to limit his potential for big numbers.
Alabama currently sits on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament talks, and according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, they are one of the Last Four In. A bad loss to Mississippi State this Saturday isn't helping Alabama's case for a spot in the Big Dance (Mississippi State's RPI was 163rd at the time of the game), so any opportunities that the Tide get from now on to impress the selection committee, they need to take advantage of, and it all starts in Lexington.
Against the Bulldogs, junior Shannon Hale had a great game along with Obasohan, both going for 22 points, and Hale knocking down four of his eight three-point attempts. Alabama absolutely needs another outlet of production other than Obasohan if they want to put on their dancing shoes, and Hale is one of the best choices to do this. Others that have shown that they can contribute to scoreboard directly are Arthur Edwards, Riley Norris, and Jimmie Taylor has increased his offensive production over the past 11 games. Against the caliber of team like the Wildcats, they'll need plenty of help from everyone in order to walk out of Lexington with a victory; a victory that would look really nice to the selection committee.
While a loss to the Wildcats won't be the end of the Tide's hopes for an NCAA Tourney bid, they don't have anymore big games left in the regular season, closing out with Auburn, Arkansas, and Georgia. A win will all but guarantee a spot in the field of 68, but they'll have to play incredibly well in the final three games of the season, plus get a win or two in the SEC Tournament to secure there place in the Big Dance.