Bama Hoops Hype

Alabama Looks to Bring “A-Game” Against Another Ranked Opponent

Alabama Men's Basketball

The Alabama men’s basketball team hosts No. 15 Tennessee on Saturday night as the Crimson Tide attempt to bounce back from their loss to Mississippi State. Alabama is 4-1 against AP-ranked teams this season and the team is hoping that trend continues against the Volunteers.

“I just think we bring our A-game for Top 25 teams and that’s something we need to do for every team,” sophomore forward Daniel Giddens said at Friday’s press conference.

Avery Johnson’s squad has won four consecutive games against teams in the Top 25, including three against conference teams. In the head coach’s three seasons in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide are 9-6 against ranked opponents in the regular season with a 5-3 record in Coleman Coliseum.

“For some reason, there’s an assumption that we practice differently or something when we play a Top 25 team,” Johnson said. “We try to keep the same motivation, teaching, and discipline for every game that we play.”

Alabama’s 4-1 record in those games is a huge reason why this team is closing in on a lock for the NCAA Tournament. (Oddly enough, the Tide’s only loss to a Top 25 team – vs. Minnesota – is now their worst RPI loss of the season.) Home wins against top 15 teams like Auburn and Oklahoma still stand out above the rest but the team has stepped up on the national stage all season.

The Crimson Tide started conference play by dominating a (limited) Texas A&M team that was ranked fifth in the AP Poll at the time. The Aggies were obviously dealing with their own problems but have now won five of six SEC games which certainly helps Alabama keep hold of this quality win.

Last week, Alabama traveled to Gainesville and knocked a Florida team that was ranked 23rd in the country out of the top 25. The Gators are still good enough to push their way back into the rankings though and this is another win that will probably look pretty good at the end of the year.

So now Tennessee comes to town and the biggest question of the day is ‘Which Alabama team will show up?’

It is certainly not a new concept that young teams are at their best on a big stage. These players tend to enjoy the spotlight and want to play their best basketball against the best teams. And the Crimson Tide, led by the talented freshmen, have showed that this season.

“We try to treat every game the same. No game is bigger than the next,” Herbert Jones said on Friday.

Jones added that it was tough to keep that mindset but he said that it is tough to win any game. The Alabama native also said that every game is a rivalry game to him so this game is just like any other.

In the games against Auburn and Oklahoma, Jones averaged 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.0 block in 28.0 minutes per game. All of those stats are well above his average. So he might think of every game the same way but his performances in the big games have undoubtedly stood out.

Tennessee enters the game with the longest win streak in the conference. It has won six consecutive games and nine of its last 10.

“We’re playing against a very hot team,” Johnson said about the Volunteers. “Arguably, in my opinion, one of the hottest teams in the country.”

The game is scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. CT in Coleman Coliseum. It will be televised on SEC Network.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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