Alabama’s season hasn’t exactly gotten off to an ideal start, as the Crimson Tide needed overtime to dispatch of Division II West Georgia in an exhibition game on Monday night.
Trevor Releford, who finished the game with 27 points but just a single assist, hit two free throws with a couple of seconds left on the clock to force the extra period. Alabama pulled away down the stretch, as the 65-64 final score was the result of an inconsequential, buzzer-beating three.
“To be honest with you, I feel like we had a lot of guys play out of character today,” coach Anthony Grantsaid. “First game in front of a crowd for some of our guys, we didn’t handle it well. We had some veterans that didn’t play like veterans today.
“Like I said, I think we’re better than that. We’ve got to look in the mirror to what we did and what we didn’t do. We just have to be better. With Oklahoma coming up on Friday, we can’t expect to have a chance to win if we go out and play like we played today.”
The Tide got pounded on the glass, giving up 22 offensive rebounds to a team that was outrebounded by Jacksonville State in an exhibition game earlier this month.
Exhibition games are really not all that big of a deal, as it’s the first chance that these teams are getting to play in real game situations. Playing in front of a sparse crowd in a game that doesn’t matter against a team you’ve never heard of isn’t exactly going to get these athletes fired up, either. Add in the fact that the coaching staff works through kinks and tries out different sets and different defenses to see what actually works, and there are times where you get results like this.
Alabama isn’t exactly considered a lock for the NCAA tournament this season, but make sure to always take results like this with a grain of salt.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.