Texas Tech (2-0) at Alabama (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,316) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: TTU 2-0, Alabama 0-0. Away Record: TTU 0-0, Alabama 0-0. Neutral Record: TTU 0-0, Alabama 0-1. Conference Record: TTU 0-0, Alabama 0-0. Series Record: Alabama leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Tech Red Raiders will attempt to get the Tubby Smith era off to a 3-0 start on Thursday night, as they head to Tuscaloosa for a bout with the Alabama Crimson Tide as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge at Coleman Coliseum.
Texas Tech has opened the campaign with back-to-back victories over Houston Baptist (76-61) and Northern Arizona (88-66). It's been a welcomed sign for a Red Raiders squad that went just 11-20 last season, and Smith hopes he can bring similar success to what he delivered at Minnesota, where he won 20 or more games five times in six seasons while appearing in three NCAA Tournaments.
Alabama began the season versus Oklahoma on a neutral floor last Friday in Dallas, falling to 0-1 with an 82-73 setback. It was a disappointing start for Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide, who went 23-13 overall (12-6 SEC) and narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament.
These squads met last season, with Alabama claiming a 66-62 victory in Lubbock to give it a 6-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The Red Raiders were red-hot in their latest bout with NAU, making good on more than 58 percent of their field goal attempts (including 12-of-22 from 3- point range) on their way to a 20-point victory. Robert Turner played just 21 minutes in the win but made every second count, as he shot 8-of-11 from the floor with five 3-pointers for 21 points, while also dishing out four assists. Jordan Tolbert and Dusty Hannahs poured in 14 points apiece, while Jaye Crockett contributed a dozen. It's been a strong start to the season for Texas Tech at both ends of the court, scoring 82.0 points while allowing 64.5 ppg, although it will be hard pressed to keep up that pace as the schedule gets more difficult. Turner (16.5 ppg) appears to be the go-to option out on the perimeter in his first season with the team. Tolbert (15.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) should be a nightly double-double threat, and Hannahs (10.5 ppg) and Crockett (10.5 ppg) are both experienced scorers from last season's squad.
In 2012-13, the Crimson Tide's success was predicated on strong defense, as they allowed opponents to net just 58.4 points per game, but they got off to a poor start in the opener in yielding 82 points to Oklahoma in the nine-point setback. Junior college transfer Algie Key paced the team with 20 points, shooting 7-of-8 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. Retin Obasohan had 14 points, Trevor Releford chipped in with 12, and both Rodney Cooper (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nick Jacobs (six points, 10 rebounds) made an impression in the paint. Releford is expected to be one of the better guards in the SEC this season after posting 14.9 points and more than two steals per game a season ago, while Cooper (10.2 ppg) and Jacobs (7.6 ppg) bring a veteran presence to the mix.
It's a bit too early to anoint the Red Raiders as an improved team after a fast start, as they opened last season strong as well with four straight wins before stumbling against greater competition. That said, expect Alabama to tighten things up on defense as it posts its first win of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 68, Texas Tech 60
11/14 10:35:40 ET