FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,316) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: South Carolina 8-7, Alabama 10-3. Away Record: South Carolina 1-5, Alabama 4-5. Neutral Record: South Carolina 3-0, Alabama 2-0. Conference Record: South Carolina 8-3, Alabama 2-9. Series Record: Alabama leads, 23-13.
GAME NOTES: Two teams heading in opposite directions square off in an SEC bout on Saturday afternoon, as the Alabama Crimson Tide entertain the South Carolina Gamecocks at Coleman Coliseum.
Frank Martin's first season as head coach of South Carolina got off to a quick start, as he led the team to wins in 10 of 13 non-conference games, but the season has gone south since SEC action got underway. The Gamecocks are 2-9 in the league, tying them with Mississippi State for last place. Their latest loss at home to LSU on Thursday (64-46) extended their season-long losing streak to five games.
Alabama is in the midst of a solid campaign, as it has won twice as many games as it has lost (16-8), and at 8-3 in the SEC, is tied with Kentucky for second place. The Tide captured a 52-45 win at Georgia on Tuesday night for their fourth triumph in their last five games, and they now return to Coleman Coliseum where they have won 10 of 13 this season.
Alabama leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 23-13, which includes a 63-57 triumph in the first round of the 2012 SEC Tournament.
Despite trailing LSU by just two points at the half, South Carolina lost control of the contest after the break as it was eventually saddled with an 18-point setback. It was their worst offensive performance of the season, the team shooting only 28.1 percent from the field (including 3-of-19 from 3-point range) in the woeful 46-point effort. Lakeem Jackson managed to piece together a solid performance with 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks, while Michael Carrera tallied eight points and eight rebounds. The Gamecocks are usually a much more potent offensive club, scoring 67.2 ppg on the season, but during their current losing streak that number has plummeted to 50.8 ppg. Michael Carrera is a steady presence in the paint with 10.9 ppg and 7.2 ppg. Brenton Williams is the only other player to average double figures with 10.0 ppg, although Bruce Ellington (9.9 ppg), Brian Richardson (8.5 ppg) and Jackson (8.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are all productive in their own right.
The Crimson Tide certainly weren't at their best shooting wise in their latest outing, as they hit only 19-of-49 field goal attempts and 8-of-14 from the foul line, but they were able to capture the seven-point road victory thanks to an outstanding defensive effort as Georgia shot a meager 30.8 percent from the floor. Rodney Cooper was the only UA player to reach double figures with 14 points, while Moussa Gueye (four blocks) and Trevor Releford (three steals) shined on defense. Tuesday's game was a microcosm of Alabama's season, as it oftentimes struggles to put points on the board (62.1 ppg), but typically gets bailed out by its outstanding scoring defense (58.1 ppg). Releford leads the team in scoring with 14.6 ppg and is as efficient as they come, posting great percentages from the field (.468), 3-point range (.400), and the free-throw line (.830). He is also an excellent perimeter defender with 2.0 spg. Trevor Lacey brings 11.8 ppg and 3.2 apg to the table, while Cooper pours in 10.8 ppg.
With the Tide's staunch defense facing a floundering South Carolina offense, this one should be relatively easy for Alabama, especially on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 65, South Carolina 53
02/16 10:34:10 ET
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