Alabama (10-14) at South Carolina (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) -- Columbia, South Carolina. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Alabama 10-4, South Carolina 7-5. Away Record: Alabama 0-7, South Carolina 0-9. Neutral Record: Alabama 0-3, South Carolina 2-1. Conference Record: Alabama 4-7, South Carolina 2-9. Series Record: Alabama leads, 24-13.
GAME NOTES: The South Carolina Gamecocks will try for their first winning streak in more than a month on Saturday afternoon, as they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in SEC action at Colonial Life Arena.
Alabama managed to snap out of its four-game losing streak on Tuesday night in dramatic fashion, as Trevor Releford knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer in the waning seconds to give it the 67-64 victory. The Tide are still in the midst of a down season at 10-14 overall and 4-7 in the league, and they have yet to win a game outside of Tuscaloosa.
South Carolina had lost three straight and nine of its previous 10 games prior to claiming a 65-59 triumph at home versus Vanderbilt on Thursday. The win allowed the Gamecocks to improve to 9-15 overall and 7-5 at home, although at 2-9 in the league, they are still alone in last place.
The Tide have won five of the past six matchups with the Gamecocks to extend their lead in the all-time series to 24-13.
The Tide held a six-point lead with just over a minute remaining in their latest game only to see Ole Miss climb back to tie the game with 13 seconds left, but it avoided the collapse on the final possession when Releford sank his game-winner just before the buzzer sounded. They shot only 41.4 percent from the field, but it was better than Ole Miss's production (.375), and they earned a 42-34 advantage on the glass. Releford was outstanding all game long with 26 points on 8-of-16 from the field and 8-of-9 at the foul line. Nick Jacobs and Shannon Hale poured in 18 and 15 points, respectively, while Rodney Cooper brought down 10 rebounds.
Despite sporting a less-than-.500 record, Alabama is still able to score more points per game (68.7) than it allows (67.9), outshooting its opponents from the field, 44.3 percent to 42.6 percent, while boasting a +0.7 turnover margin. Releford has established himself as one of the nation's most efficient guards, scoring 18.7 ppg on 50.2 percent field goal shooting and 90.6 percent from the free-throw line, and he's also an elite perimeter defender with 2.1 spg. Retin Obasahon is the only other player in double figures with 10.7 ppg and is a strong defender as well with 2.1 spg and 1.3 bpg.
The Gamecocks trailed earlier in the week by two points with 15 minutes to play, but they promptly pulled away thanks to a 22-7 run and held on for the six-point victory. They were actually outshot from the field by Vanderbilt, 43.8 percent to 37.5 percent, but they attempted 16 more field goals by winning both the rebounding (45-31) and turnover (12-11) battles. Sindarius Thornwell scored a game-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists, Brenton Williams poured in 10 points and Duane Notice chipped in with 10.
South Carolina is one of just two SEC teams that score fewer points per game (70.3) than it allows (70.8 ppg), as it ranks 13th in the league in field-goal percentage at 42.9 percent. Surprisingly, it has the second-best 3-point percentage (.369), but it doesn't attempt many long-range buckets, draining just 5.4 per outing. Williams is responsible for nearly half the team's 3- pointers, knocking down 60 treys at a 42.3 percent clip on his way to 13.8 ppg, and his free-throw percentage (.963) ranks tops in the nation among qualified foul shooters. Thornwell is the only other player to net in double figures with 13.5 ppg.
The Gamecocks have played close games at home and have finally started to take advantage recently with wins in two of their last three in Columbia. Against an Alabama squad that has yet to find a way to win on the road, expect South Carolina to earn its second straight victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 67, Alabama 64
02/15 10:39:55 ET