GAME NOTES: The Alabama Crimson Tide will take their two-game winning streak on the road on Saturday afternoon when they face off with the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in an SEC affair.
Alabama has managed to pull to .500 this season at 7-7 following two straight wins, including a 68-63 triumph versus Vanderbilt on Tuesday night in its SEC opener. The Crimson Tide have not fared well away from Tuscaloosa, however. They are 0-2 on the road, and 0-5 away from home including neutral-court matchups.
Georgia has had a similar season as Alabama overall, sporting a 7-6 mark with an impressive showing on its home floor (6-1). The Bulldogs made a statement in their SEC lid-lifter on Wednesday night by downing nationally-ranked Missouri in overtime, 70-64, putting an end to the Tigers' nation-long 26-game home winning streak.
The Crimson Tide have defeated the Bulldogs on four straight occasions to improve to 90-46 in the all-time series.
Alabama led Vanderbilt by as many as 16 points midway through the second half of its latest contest, and while it saw that advantage dwindle to just three late in the game it was able to hold on thanks mostly to shooting 48.1 percent from the field and winning the takeaway battle, 16-8. Trevor Releford has seen much better days shooting from the field (3-of-10), but he drilled all eight of his free-throw tries to finish with 16 points to go with six assists (one turnover) and three steals. Retin Obasohan and Shannon Hale poured in 15 points apiece, while Levin Randolph rounded out the balanced effort with 11 points.
Despite their mediocre record this season, the Tide have clearly outperformed their opponents, shooting 46.4 percent from the field for 72.3 ppg while allowing 66.4 ppg on just 41.8 percent shooting. Releford (18.3 ppg) is one of the nation's most efficient guards, as he shoots 51 percent from the floor, 41 percent from 3-point range and 92.6 percent from the foul line. Obasahon scores 13.0 ppg, and he and Releford are both elite perimeter defenders with a combined 71 steals. Randolph (10.0 ppg) and Nick Jacobs (9.5 ppg) are also regular contributors.
After losing its late lead against Missouri when Jordan Clarkson drilled a game-tying 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, Georgia concluded the extra period on a 12-1 run in the final three minutes to capture the thrilling upset victory. It shot a modest 43.3 percent from the field but kept Missouri in check by allowing it to net just 39.3 percent of its field goal tries. Charles Mann was the catalyst with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists, Nemanja Djurisic put up 16 points off the bench, while Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
On the season, the Bulldogs appear to have a dominating advantage over their opponents in terms of field goal percentage (.477 to .405), but they own just a +2.5 scoring margin since they regularly lose the turnover battle (-1.6) and have been terrible from the free-throw line (.640). Mann shoots 45.8 percent from the floor on his way to a team-best 13.4 ppg. Gaines brings 11.5 ppg to the table, while Djurisic (11.2 ppg) and Morris (9.6 ppg) each shoot greater than 54 percent from the field.
The Tide have shown time and again this season that they are a completely different team away from home, and with Georgia riding high after its upset over Missouri, it should be able to use that momentum in its favor in its return home.
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