November 10, 2006

Breakdown: Jackson State at Alabama

What: Jackson State (0-0) at No. 11 Alabama (0-0)
Where: Coleman Coliseum (15,316), Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: Friday, Nov 10
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. (CST)/ None
Series record: Alabama leads, 1-0.
Last meeting: Dec. 27, 2005: Alabama took a 101-66 decision in Tuscaloosa.
Tickets: Available at rolltide.com or the Coliseum box office.

The Coaches
Alabama -- Mark Gottfried (ninth season) has compiled a record of 160-96 at Alabama and an overall mark of 228-120.

Jackson State -- Tevester Anderson (fifth season) has compiled a record of 42-51 at JSU and an overall mark of 145-103.

The Starting Lineups
Alabama
Forward -- 35 Richard Hendrix (6-8, 265, So., 9.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
Forward -- 12 Alonzo Gee (6-6, 215, So., 8.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
Center -- 33 Jermareo Davidson (6-10, 230, Sr.,14.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG)
Guard -- 4 Brandon Hollinger (5-11, 170, So., 2.3 PPG, 1.2 APG)
Guard -- 22 Ronald Steele (6-3, 185, Jr., 14.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG)

Jackson State
Center - 44 Jeremy Caldwell (6-8, 215, So., 5.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
Forward -- 22 Edwin Jarrow (6-6 165, Jr., 0.8 PPG, 0.9 RPG)
Guard - 3 Catraiva Givens (5-8, 155, So., 3.8 PPG, 2.2 APG)
Guard - 24 Trey Johnson (6-5, 218, Jr., 23.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG)
Guard - 34 Julius Young (6-6, 185, Sr., 9.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG)

Around the perimeter

Alabama: In his team's final dress rehearsal, Gottfried wanted to see how the Tide would respond without Steele in the lineup. The answer came in the form of 24 turnovers and 6-of-22 shooting from 3-point range in an 81-72 win over a solid Division II club in Montevallo. Of course, for young players like freshman guard Mikhail Torrence, that's what games in November and December are for. Mykal Riley gives the Tide versatility at the shooting guard and small forward positions, while Hollinger can provide minutes at both shooting guard and the point. Spelling Steele for a few minutes each half would be ideal, but it's not an absolute necessity for a guy who averaged 40.6 minutes per game in SEC play a season ago.

Jackson State: So, are you wondering how UA will matchup defensively out on the perimeter with the likes of Florida? While no one will confuse the Tigers for the Gators, Johnson will certainly test Gee and Riley. Johnson, who gave consideration to entering the 2006 NBA Draft before withdrawing his name, scored 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting in last season's loss to the Tide. Anderson employs a four-guard attack, but outside of Johnson, the Tigers weren't especially good from 3-point range a season ago. JSU lost its starting point guard in September when Charlie White was expelled from school following an on-campus shooting incident..

Advantage: Alabama

In the paint

Alabama: On the offensive end, it doesn't appear as if the Tigers will Davidson and Hendrix with much of a challenge. Davidson (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Hendrix (23 points, 12 rebounds) both posted double-doubles in last year's meeting. Forwards Yamene Coleman and Demetrius Jemison are slated to make their UA debuts tonight. According to Gottfried, of all the true freshmen, Jemison has been the most pleasant surprise.

Jackson State: The Tide pounded the glass for 42 rebounds a year ago, out rebounding the Tigers by nine boards. Forwards Hilton Tompkins (6-8, 200) and Ernest Hassell (6-6, 195) will come off the bench.

Advantage: Alabama

What to watch for: For the second time in four years, Alabama is being touted as a legitimate national title contender. Will this team live up to the hype or will it travel a path similar to the one the 2002-03 team took? While there are too many variables involved -- with good fortune, perhaps, being the biggest of all -- to guarantee a run to the Final Four, this team has a national championship caliber point guard. Indiana had Isiah Thomas. Duke had Bobby Hurley. Alabama has that kind of floor leader in Steele. If they manage to stay healthy, Steele, Gee, Davidson and Hendrix are more than capable of carrying the Tide to the Sweet 16. Going deeper than, however, that will require some help from a pool of first-year contributors that includes Riley, Torrence, Coleman and Jemison.

Prediction: Alabama 93, Jackson State 70

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