The South Alabama Jaguars nearly pulled off an upset against Alabama last year.
Now they get another chance, but this time the Jaguars will be at home.
That’s the set-up for Tuesday night, when the 18th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0) visit the Jaguars (1-1) in Mobile, Ala.
Last season, Alabama was ranked 14th when the Jaguars visited Tuscaloosa and lost a close contest, 73-68. The Jaguars led at halftime and the score was tied 62-62 with 3:00 left in the game before Alabama pulled away.
The Jaguars played that game without their top two point guards, Tyrell Jones and Greg Parham II. However, both guards are available Tuesday night.
The Jaguars are coming off an 80-74 road loss at New Mexico. But Jaguars coach Richie Riley is looking at the bigger picture when it comes to the team’s nonconference schedule.
“I think it will prepare us very well for Sun Belt play,” Riley said. “I think we have a group with the maturity level and the approach to really take a lot from this slate besides wins and losses. We have a group that can take a lot from it and better prepare us to have a chance to win a league championship, because that’s what it’s about.”
Parham has averaged 13.0 points per game and Jones is at 9.0 points. Isaiah Moore leads the Jaguars in scoring (16.5) and assists (9.0). The team’s other double-figure scorers are Kevin Samuel (13.0) and Jamar Franklin (12.0).
The Jaguars finished last season 21-12, failing to make the NCAA Tournament. They did advance to the semifinals of The Basketball Classic.
Meanwhile, Alabama has to play two more mid-major teams — the Jaguars and Jacksonville State — before the Crimson Tide get their first major test of the season in a neutral-site game against Michigan State on Nov. 24.
Alabama started this season by shooting just 3 of -28 (10.7 percent) on 3-pointers in a 75-54 win over Longwood. In Alabama’s second game — a 95-59 win over Liberty — the Tide shot a sizzling 45.5 percent (10-for-22) on 3-pointers.
“I wasn’t concerned with our 3-point shooting,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “I’ve seen us make shots a lot in practice. We just told them when to take the right shots. Shoot in rhythm and trust your work.”
Brandon Miller and Mark Sears lead Alabama in scoring (17.0 points per game each). Miller tops the team in rebounds (10.5) and Sears is second (9.0).
Rylan Griffen (15.0) and Jaden Bradley (10.5) are Alabama’s other double-figure scorers. Sears leads the team in assists (4.5), and Griffen tops the squad in steals (2.0).
Miller, Griffen and Bradley are all true freshmen and part of a terrific recruiting class. Miller and Bradley were also McDonald’s All-Americans, and Sears is a transfer from Ohio, where he shot 40.8 percent on 3-pointrers.
Beyond the numbers, Alabama seems to have improved its chemistry from last season, when the Tide went 19-14, taking an upset loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Oats has let it be known that last season’s Tide players didn’t truly play for each other.
“We had guys last year that played with the sole purpose of improving their draft stock,” Oats told Fieldof68.com. “If that’s your sole purpose, it’s going to go backwards. But if you help us win games, your draft stock will go up.”
–Field Level Media