TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Stretches of the basketball season have seen the Crimson Tide go 14 days without a win, notably the beginning of December (0-3 in 19 days). Now that the Tide is riding a four-game win streak, all against SEC teams, Alabama has a different challenge: playing the same team twice in two weeks.
“We just played Tennessee two weeks ago, a game that came down to the wire, that we were really fortunate to win,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said at a news conference. “We’re dealing with a team that, for lack of a better cliche, is kind of a wounded animal right now walking into their own building.
“It’s different, because we’re both familiar with each other. Obviously, we can both look at that game and I’m sure they’re looking at it thinking, ‘If we did A, B and C a little different, the outcome could’ve been different.”
Alabama’s home win was diluted by junior guard Jordan McRae‘s performance, scoring 21 of Tennessee’s 65 points and shooting 57 percent from the floor.
“I’d say right now, he’d be among the leading vote-getters for player of the year in the league,” Grant said. “He’s just a really good player. They put him in a lot of spots — sometimes he’s at point, sometimes he’s at the wing.”
McRae’s breakout season means nothing to the Tide, as it hopes nothing can reverse the positive trend it has enjoyed in Knoxville recently.
“We haven’t lost there since I’ve been here, so I fully expect us to go in there and try to get a win,” Tide redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele said. “It’s a great arena. It’s always a great atmosphere.
“No matter how loud the crowd will be, they can’t come out and control what happens on the court. That’s where our focus has to be.”
Contributed by Brett Hudson