Anthony Grant is looking for consistency, which is something Alabama has struggled with this season.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, the Alabama head coach said that what allowed his team to crush Mississippi State 75-43 Wednesday was a different kind of effort and focus. This week he’s been preaching carryover of those qualities when SEC newbie Texas A&M comes to town.
Just like their football program, the Aggies (12-4, 2-1 SEC) have seen early success in their first season in the SEC, having beaten Arkansas and Kentucky thus far. Texas A&M only lost its first conference game this week when it hosted No. 10 Florida. The Gators came away with a 68-47 victory.
“They’ve got a lot of great weapons at A&M,” Grant said. “So we gotta do a great job defensively.”
One of those weapons is fifth-year senior guard Elston Turner, who leads his team with 16.3 points per game. He put up 40 points against the Wildcats last weekend, but was held to four on Thursday against Florida.
“He has a tremendous ability to score the basketball,” Grant said. “I think everybody is aware that he exploded against Kentucky. He’s a scorer. He scores in a variety of ways, and I think his team does a great job of understanding how to take advantage of what he does.”
But the Gators figured Turner out and were able to make him uncomfortable (he went 1-of-10 shooting), which is what Alabama hopes to do, too.
“We’re going to have to do a really good job defensively because they throw things at you and to have a guy that demands so much attention as he does, there’s a lot involved in it,” Grant said. “He’s a very good player, a very unselfish player…just knows how to play the game.”
Alabama (10-6, 2-1) could be without point guard Trevor Releford (ankle) once again. Though the Tide managed without him against the Bulldogs, Grant says he’s “hopeful” the junior point guard will be able to play.
“Right now, it’s going to come down to basically pain tolerance,” Grand said.
Releford, who leads the Tide with an average of 16.3 ppg, sprained his ankle Monday at practice. He dressed and warmed up Wednesday before Alabama played MSU, but did not play.
Grant said that Releford still has some stiffness and soreness in his ankle, and will re-evaluate him and his mobility at this afternoon’s practice.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure he’s healthy, [so] we don’t do something that would jeopardize his health,” Grant said. “We’ll evaluate it today in practice. We’re hopeful if everything goes well today in practice that he’ll be available.”
Alabama tips off against Texas A&M Saturday at 5 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum on Fox Sports Network.
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