Previewing Alabama vs. Ole Miss: SEC Opener for Crimson Tide
The Tide enter SEC play with a 9-3 overall record and are looking to continue their great start when they travel to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in their brand new basketball facility, The Pavilion.
One of the most impressive team in the SEC during non-conference play has been the Rebels, with solid wins over the Memphis Tigers and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The first aspect of this Rebel team that you notice is the stellar play from point guard Stefan Moody.
To say the 5'10" senior has been explosive would be a woeful understatement, torching teams this season with his ability to score the basketball (23.7 points/game). The sixth best scorer in the nation, statistically speaking, will look to take advantage of his hot shooting hand against the Tide with the emotion and energy of opening up their brand new basketball facility.
Avery Johnson's squad has missed the presence of freshman point guard Dazon Ingram since he went down with a fractured foot, but they've played well considering his absence. Speaking of injuries, junior Shannon Hale was able to play against Norfolk State since suffering his injury earlier this season, although he only played 14 minutes and his only two points of the game came from 2-2 shooting from the free throw line. His return provides the Tide with a little bit more size in the paint, plus he's able to play on the perimeter, and that will be beneficial if they want to leave Oxford with a win Thursday night.
One of the brightest spots this season for the Tide is the leadership and level of play from senior Retin Obasohan. He has been solid filling in for Ingram at the point (along with help from Justin Coleman), but his ability to score has been more important than any other quality of this team. We're talking about a Crimson Tide squad that struggles to shoot the ball and struggles to score consistently, and as long as Obasohan is on his game, Alabama will have a chance in each game. He'll most likely be matched up with the Rebels' Moody for quite a bit of the game, so we'll get to see which player will show up for their respective teams.
In the front court, Alabama has the immediate height advantage, since Ole Miss doesn't have a single player taller than 6'9", but three of their bigs (Saiz, Gielo, and Perez) average more than 22 minutes/game, meaning they're always fresh when brought into the game. The only true big man on Alabama's roster who averages more than 16 minutes is Jimmie Taylor (24), although you can throw Hale into that category if you want. This lack of depth could be tough on the Tide, so a solid game on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor from Taylor will be integral for Alabama in this match-up.