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February 11, 2011TUSCALOOSA _ Where to begin?
There was the non-call when sophomore forward Tony Mitchell got drilled in the face. The more-than-questionable fifth foul on freshman Trevor Releford when the game was on the line. The play near the baseline where official Tim Higgins ruled that junior forward JaMychal Green stepped out of bounds that left Coach Anthony Grant screaming about no foul being call. Not giving Alabama its time out to set up a final play.
There was also the fact that the home team shooting jump shots somehow managed to attempt 27 free throws, while the side pounding the boards and scoring 46 points in the paint only got 19.
You know that call between Grant and SEC coordinator of basketball officials Gerald Boudreaux had to be an interesting one Friday, which the coached described as a "conversation."
"It was a high intensity game," Grant said. "It is what it is. You have to move on and get prepared for the game tomorrow."
Regardless, the Crimson Tide can't go back and change Thursday night's controversial 81-77 loss at No. 23 Vanderbilt, with tipoff against Ole Miss just 38 hours after the team plane landed from Nashville at roughly 1 a.m.
Ready or not, Saturday's game (3 p.m., SEC Network) is already close to be being sold out, and with after its NCAA Tournament chances took a hit, Alabama (15-8, 7-2 SEC) is facing a team it was swept by last year.
"It can be bad in terms of the physical turnaround, but it can be good if you have a big win or a big loss because you don't have too much time to dwell on it," said sophomore forward/guard Andrew Steele, adding that the team is itching to get back out on the court.
SEC teams that have had to play Saturday after a Thursday night game are 2-5 this season.
"In a perfect world you would want more time to prepare," Grant said. "As we've spoken about before, the benefits of having the exposure that we get from a television standpoint, national TV, we understand that as coaches in the league that we'll have these situations. It is what it is and our assistant coaches the past few days have had a chance to breakout Ole Miss and prepare our team, so it's a matter of a lot of information in a short period of time."
Ole Miss, which began the conference schedule 0-4, has won three straight including Wednesday's 66-60 victory over LSU to complete the sweep. Last week it won at Arkansas, 69-60, and knocked off No. 10 Kentucky when senior point guard Chris Warren drilled a 25-footer with 2.9 seconds remaining for the program's first win against a top-10 opponent since No. 6 Alabama in 2002.
Warren ranks fifth in SEC history school-record 304 career 3-point baskets and is the SEC's active leader in career points, assists, 3-pointers and 20-pt games.
"Chris Warren is probably one of the elite guards in our league, just in terms of his impact on his team, his ability to score," Grant said. "He makes other guys better. The impact that he has is tremendous and then they have other pieces on the perimeter that stretches your defense, and two very skilled guys inside who will challenge you. From a defensive standpoint it's another game we'll be stretched, to do a good job and try and contain what they do."
Grant's other concern is his own defense, which went into Vanderbilt ranked third nationally by allowing just 57.1 points per game. The Commodores, which lead the conference in scoring, reached that roughly midway through the second half.
Vanderbilt made 25 of 49 shots, including nine 3-pointers. In comparison, the Tide was 2 of 15, but 28 of 39 inside the arc (71.8 percent).
"We've got one day to prepare and you have to move on," Grant said. "You look at the numbers that they shot from the field, from the 3-point line, I think it's pretty obvious where our breakdowns were."