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Texas A&M (12-4) at Alabama (10-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,316) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: FSN. Home Record: Texas A&M 9-2, Alabama 6-3. Away Record: Texas A&M 2-0, Alabama 2-3. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 1-2, Alabama 2-0. Conference Record: Texas A&M 2-1, Alabama 2-1. Series Record: Alabama leads, 6-3.
GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies venture to Tuscaloosa on Saturday evening for an SEC matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Texas A&M opened its first season as a member of the SEC with a pair of impressive wins over Arkansas (69-51) and Kentucky (68-47), but it slipped up at home on Thursday night against nationally-ranked Florida, suffering a 68-47 loss. Even with the defeat, the Aggies have played very well this season as they sit with an overall record of 12-4.
Alabama kicked off its SEC slate on a down note with an 84-68 loss at Missouri, but since then it has won back-to-back games versus Tennessee (68-65) and most recently at Mississippi State on Wednesday night, 75-43. The Tide has now won three of four after losing five of its previous six to position itself at 10-6 on the season.
These newly-formed SEC rivals last met in December of 2008, with Texas A&M coming away with an 86-78 overtime victory. Alabama has won six of the nine meetings all-time.
The Aggies kept their recent bout with Florida close early on, and they even led, 14-13, midway through the first half, but the Gators ended the frame on a 22-4 run and A&M could never recover. The Aggies were ice-cold from the field, making just 34 percent of their total shots, and only Alex Caruso (12 points) and J'Mychal Reese (10 points) scored in double-digits. Typically, it's Elston Turner energizing the squad, as he averages a team-best 16.3 ppg, while piecing together an outstanding season from 3-point range (.424). Ray Turner has been the answer on the inside, tallying 11.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg while making his field goals at a 57.1 percent clip. Fabyon Harris is close to joining the double-digit scorers' club with 9.9 ppg. As a team, the Aggies generate a modest 65.4 ppg, but they do so behind a solid field goal percentage (.451). They also play outstanding defense, yielding less than 60 ppg on average.
The Crimson Tide trailed Mississippi State by four points early in the first half, but they turned things around rather quickly on their way to the convincing 32-point road victory. Alabama shot a fantastic 31-of-58 (.534) from the floor in the triumph, and dominated both on the glass (35-23) and in the turnover battle (21-12). Levi Randolph tallied 18 points and eight rebounds, Nick Jacobs came off the bench to log a double-double consisting of 16 points and 11 boards, and Rodney Cooper (17 points) and Trevor Lacey (11 points, six assists) also had impressive outings. The Tide was able to cruise even without the presence of top scorer Trevor Releford (16.3 ppg), who sat out the MSU win with a sprained ankle, and is listed as questionable for this bout. If Releford is unable to go, the team will again have to rely on bigger contributions from Lacey (12.4 ppg, 3.5 apg), Cooper (12.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Randolph (8.7 ppg). Alabama's offensive output may be somewhat modest (66.4 ppg), but its effort at the defensive end is top-notch, as it ranks third in the SEC in giving up a mere 59.8 ppg.
These squads are evenly matched, which should make for an exciting game. If Releford can go, Alabama will have a strong shot at the home win, but if the Tide are once again without their leading scorer, give the Aggies the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 67, Alabama 66
01/19 11:02:36 ET
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