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Crimson Tide basketball teams return to Coleman Coliseum for Thursday contests (via Crimson Magazine)

14 Dec 2016 Stan J. Griffin

By Stan J. Griffin: December 14, 2016

Coming off tough road losses to Georgetown and Oregon respectively, Kristy Curry's University of Alabama women's basketball team and Avery Johnson's Crimson Tide men's team are looking to get back on the winning track.
And both teams are no doubt hoping that a return to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum Thursday will translate into big victories as they will host a morning/nighttime twinbill.
At 11:30 a.m. CT, Curry's team (7-1) will be hosting Georgia State for its annual 5th Grade Fastbreak Game. Thousands of Tuscaloosa city and county fifth graders will be attending the contest, which usually means a very loud and vocal home environment for the Crimson Tide.
Then at 7 p.m CT, Johnson's Alabama squad (4-4) will be hosting USC Upstate as it looks to get back over the .500 mark after consecutive disappointing losses away from home to the Ducks and the Texas Longhorns.
The Alabama women, for their eighth home contest of the season, will be hosting a Panther team that comes to Coleman Coliseum with a 4-4 record under seventh-year coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener.
"I'm excited tomorrow for our Fifth Grade Fastbreak Game, and it's a great opportunity to be able to support both our county and our public school system, and our team enjoys getting out to visit with them as a lead-up to tomorrow's game," said Curry during a Wednesday press conference. "We're hoping a lot of folks will take a long lunch break and come out and support us as well so it's going to be a fun day and we're excited to play a very well-coached, hard-playing team in Georgia State."
Curry said there was little mystery to what went wrong for her team in its loss to the Hoyas this past Sunday, simply not enough shots going through the basket.


"We had missed free throws, ten of those, and then to shoot 30-something percent on the road, you can't win and I think two glaring energy statistics is the fact that we outrebounded them by 14 and had 22 offensive rebounds. Defensively we played with energy but you just have to make shots on the road and find the way to wall the ball in sometimes, and we weren't able to do that," she said.
Alabama continues to be led in scoring by junior guard Meo Knight, who averages nearly 13 points a game. Sophomore guard Shaq Wade leads the Crimson Tide in rebounding with nearly seven boards per contest while freshman point guard Jordan Lewis paces the Tide in assists with nearly four per game.
Georgia State is led by senior standout Tiffany Holston, who leads the Panthers in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 11.1 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Johnson's UA team, besides trying to get its overall record to a positive mark once again, is no doubt looking for a big win for nothing else other than confidence and morale sake.
In its past two losses at Texas and Oregon, the Crimson Tide proved it was perhaps close to reaching its expectation level, as Alabama had second-half leads in both games before fading late.
"We were able to get back to practice (Tuesday) after a very, very extensive film session, looking at all the ways we can improve on both ends of the floor," said Johnson during Wednesday's press conference. "Against Oregon I thought we were very competitive defensively. Here was a (Duck) team that was scoring in the high 70s and they obviously have a team that was ranked fourth preseason, but I thought we did a good job and were competitive defensively. We mixed up our defenses, we trapped a little bit and played man. We played some zone. Pressed a little bit from time to time. Thought we rebounded the ball overall well, but offensively was where our struggles were. We had 18 turnovers and then we had another 12, what I call, wasted possessions. So that's a total of 30 combined wasted possessions, by either not taking care of the ball, not getting organized on offense and we're just leaving too many points on the board.
"How do we improve in those areas? Better leadership, more discipline, catching the ball with two hands, getting the correct pivot foot,  making on-time, on-target passes, taking good shots, and now we have to go through a real elementary exercise on what a good shot and a bad shot is. So we have areas we can improve. I'm not discouraged. We were right there (at Oregon) with a chance to win that game,  we just didn't close it. And now we're playing against a team in South Carolina Upstate  that's had some big games. Obviously they played Auburn close at Auburn and they have a big guy inside in (Michael) Buchanan that's seven-feet, 285 pounds that we're going to have to deal with. He's a man. After that they have a bunch of three-point shooters so hopefully we can maybe play like we did in the first half against Texas  and maybe play like we did in the second half against Oregon. Maybe we can put together a complete game at some point."
The visiting Spartans come to Coleman Coliseum with a 7-5 record under 15th-year coach Eddie Payne.
Buchanan leads USC Upstate in scoring at 15.3 points per contest and also is the team's leading rebounder at 10.5 boards per game.
Johnson also noted that junior forward Nick King is dealing with a lung infection, and will likely not resume team activities until sometime after the Christmas break. King had been experiencing various symptoms recently, including rapid weight loss, difficulty with sleeping and a loss of appetite.

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