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By Stan J. Griffin: November 23, 2016

Although the line for Saturday's Iron Bowl showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 13 Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS)  has hovered anywhere between 17 and 20 points, there are several items that point toward a closer game than some observers might expect.
These include an Auburn scoring defense that allows only around 17 points per game, a Tiger rushing defense that is ranked No. 4 in the Southeastern Conference, allowing only about 134 yards per game and an Auburn rushing offense that has been strong all season long, averaging nearly 267 yards per contest.
So there is good talent on both sides of the ball for Gus Malzahn's Tigers (8-3 overall, 5-2 in SEC play), and weapons that cause a host of issues for just about any team, including Nick Saban's top-ranked Crimson Tide squad (11-0 overall, 7-0 in league play).
That is if the Tigers are healthy.
Defensively, Auburn appears to be in good shape physically heading into Saturday's affair, the 81st meeting of the intrastate archrivals, but a major storyline entering the contest is the health of key offensive leaders for the Tigers, including sophomore quarterback Sean White and sophomore tailback Kamryn Pettway.
Malzahn, the fourth-year Auburn coach, has said this week that he expects Pettway to return from a leg injury suffered against Vanderbilt, but has yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday's contest, meaning there is the possibility of senior Jeremy Johnson starting his second straight game.
There are also injury concerns regarding sophomore H back/tight end Chandler Cox and fellow sophomore running back//receiver Stanton Truitt. So even if all four are able to play against Alabama, all may be at least partially limited in what they are able to do in an actual game situation.
Saban said at his Monday press conference that he and his staff are preparing as if all of Auburn's offensive cogs will playing, and said the game in general will be a mighty challenge for his top-ranked team as it attempts to complete a perfect 12-0 regular season.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 23, 2016

After basically threatening to retire the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honor during her prolific senior season at the University of Alabama, Crimson Tide volleyball standout Krystal Rivers has gained a huge honor from the conference that should really come as no surprise to anyone who follows the college game. 
After leading the SEC and ranking among the top five nationally in kills and points all season, Rivers has been tabbed the SEC Player of the Year, becoming the first Crimson Tide player to receive the prestigious honor.
Rivers was also named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year while teammate Hayley McSparin was named to the All-Freshman team.
Rivers is the first player in program history to be named SEC Player of the Year and the second to earn Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors after the first league award was given to Erin Price in 2003. Rivers is the first player in SEC history to earn both Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the year in the same season.
She also joins Erin Heffner (2001-04) as the only four time All-SEC honorees at Alabama. McSparin’s All-Freshman accolade is the fifth in program history and third in the last four seasons, joining Rivers (2013) and Kat Hutson (2014).
“It’s very rewarding to see someone like Krystal who works so hard for her career as a student-athlete and volleyball player be recognized and rewarded for those efforts,” UA head coach Ed Allen said. “She arrived here at Alabama as a walk-on with an academic scholarship and is now the first player in SEC history to win both awards in the same season.”

By Stan J. Griffin: November 22, 2016

Avery Johnson's University of Alabama basketball team finds itself in Las Vegas as it is participating in the Men Who Speak Up Main Event, and it took on the Valparaiso Crusaders Monday night in the "heavyweight division" of the tournament.
Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, those Crusaders were able to put Alabama on the ropes late, and the Tide could not recover, falling 68-60 to drop to 2-2 on the season.
“It was a tough, hard-fought game,”  Johnson said. “We didn’t get off to a good start.  And because we didn’t get off to a good start, they kind of set the tone early. We got a little bit stagnant on offense, we got in the bonus too early when we were on defense. So the aggressor won the game tonight, and the team that played the smartest.”
Alabama, struggling on offense, found itself trailing 17-10 in the first half of play before rallying to grab a lead.
The Crusaders, however, rallied themselves to move back in front by halftime 34-31.
As the Tide continued a scoring drought into the second half, a 6-0 run by the Crusaders put them up 40-34. Alabama, though, scored six in a row itself to tie the score at 40-40 at the 14:23 mark, with that spurt capped by a 3-pointer by Corban Collins.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 21, 2016

Not many people who live in the state of Alabama have to be reminded of the significance of this week, especially for those who are even casual football fans.
It is officially Iron Bowl week, with No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Auburn set to renew the nation's top college football rivalry Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide team (11-0 overall, 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play) and Gus Malzahn's Tigers (8-3 overall, 5-2 in league play) are set to clash at 2:30 p.m, with CBS televising the 81st meeting of the archrivals.
And while much hoopla and intensity always surrounds the game in general, this game, of course, carries more weight for the top-ranked Alabama team, as all of its major goals are still in play.
This includes an unbeaten 15-0 season, and a repeat of both its SEC and College Football Playoff championships.  Alabama will also be looking for its third straight win over the Tigers, and its 24th consecutive victory overall.
During his press conference Monday, Saban noted that his team has a chance to cement its place as another very special Crimson Tide team with a strong closing stretch of games, but noted that it will not be easy for his squad against a talented and improved Auburn team.
"The focus needs to be on learning from (a sluggish win over Chattanooga this past weekend) in terms of how we can get better and also to move forward and look to the challenge that we have ahead of us, which is really, you know, the legacy of the season relative to what we can accomplish and what we can do, and the meaning of this game that we play against our rival in the state in the Iron Bowl," he said, noting  it will also be Senior Day on Saturday for a group that has compiled an impressive 48-5 record. "It is certainly a lot to look forward to, a lot to prepare for, a lot to get ready for. So that's where our focus needs to be. I think this is one of the greatest rivalry games in the country. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in this state as well as nationally and the competitors in the game.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 19, 2016

The plan was seemingly an obvious one for Nick Saban's No. 1 Alabama football team entering Saturday night's home contest against the Chattanooga Mocs of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Get off to a quick start, build an early big lead, and then devote the rest of the game to polishing up various areas of its overall repertoire while also getting a lot of players into the contest.
And while a largely-lackluster effort, especially in the first half by the Tide, did not allow much room for comfort for UA and perhaps caused a bit of stress with the bundled-up home crowd, Alabama was still able to take a decisive 31-3 victory before a capacity crowd of 101,821 at a frigid Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama with its 23rd straight victory overall, improved to 11-0 on the season while the visiting Mocs fell to 8-3.
“That wasn’t probably our best effort, but I think you have to give the Chattanooga players a lot of credit,” said Saban. “They played hard and they played well and played with a lot of grit and a lot of toughness. We knew this would be a challenge for us at this point in the season to get our guys to play at a high level, even though we wanted to kind of build on the momentum and get everybody’s confidence to where it would be really good going into next week (and a battle against Auburn). But I thought our players responded a little better in the second half and the defense obviously played pretty well, just giving up three points. Offensively we didn’t have a whole lot of consistency and we definitely need to do better. I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned.”
The victory set a record for Saban, who earned his 41st win while directing the nation’s top-ranked team at the Capstone. Saban’s Tide teams have won 41 of 46 games when ranked No. 1. Also, the 46 games coaching the nation’s top-ranked squad ties Saban for that total with Ohio State legend Woody Hayes.
Alabama began its opening possession on the Crimson Tide 23-yard-line, and on the very first play of the game, Jalen Hurts connected with Calvin Ridley on a 23-yard gain. Hurts then ran for 20 to the UTC 34. The UA drive, however, stalled.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 18, 2016

It took a while for Avery Johnson's University of Alabama basketball team to get started offensively Friday night against Ball State in Coleman Coliseum, as both the Crimson Tide and James Whitford's Cardinals went nearly the first five minutes of the contest without scoring a point.
But once Tide senior forward Shannon Hale, junior guard Ar'Mond Davis and company began to find their range, UA was able to settle in and ultimately roll to a 77-59 victory, with 11 players getting in the scoring column.
Hale led the way for Johnson's team as he tallied a game-high 19 points, while also contributing four rebounds, two steals, one assist and a block.  Davis matched his UA career-high 17 points, including five 3-pointers.
Alabama as a team hit 12 treys on the night.
The Tide improved to 2-1 on the young season in the second game of the Las Vegas Main Event while the Cardinals fell to 1-2.
"It was a really good bounce-back win for us tonight,” Johnson said. “One of the things we stressed was defending the three-point line. Teams have been shooting over 40 percent on us from the three-point line. We did a great job of contesting them at the line and closing out help-side defense. We got off to a little bit of a slow start offensively, but our defense was good. Then we got a huge boost from the guys that came off the bench. I am proud of our team.”
The start of the game was rough, as both teams went for a combined 0-of-11 before  then proceeding to go for a combined 9-of-11 after that early dry spell.
Alabama went up early 7-3, with Hale scoring five of those points, before the visitors tied the game at 7-7.
The Tide led only 15-14 when Alabama used a 6-0 spurt to build the advantage to 21-14, and Hale capped that run with a 3-point bomb and by this point he already had tallied 13 points.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 17, 2016

It is not likely that this weekend's game for the No. 1 University of Alabama football team against the Chattanooga Mocs of the Football Championship Subdivision will register high marks on the excitement and anticipation scale for Crimson Tide fans, especially with a showdown against archrival Auburn, looming.
But Saturday's contest in Bryant-Denny Stadium (6 p.m. CT, ESPN2) against Russ Huesman's 8-2 Mocs is important for a couple of reasons, nevertheless for Nick Saban's top-ranked and 10-0 UA squad.
The contest essentially marks the final opportunity for Alabama to simply polish up some critical areas of its game, such as kickoff coverage, consistency with the running game and continued work on the vertical passing game.
If the game goes according to script, it should also allow many Crimson Tide players to see game action, as well as allowing Saban and his staff to rest his starters quite a bit before a closing stretch of the season that includes next week's Iron Bowl game, the Southeastern Conference title game against Florida or Tennessee and perhaps upcoming College Football Playoff games as well.
Saban himself would find such talk as an annoyance at best as his main priority, of course, for every game is for his players to show great respect for the opponent, to play to a certain standard, to treat each down like its the most important one and to win.
He made that point clear earlier this week when he noted that his players need to concentrate not only on a talented Chattanooga team that was ranked No. 7 in the FCS prior to falling at home to Wofford last week, but itself as well.
"We need each unit on the team, each group on the team, each individual on the team to take ownership and be responsible for the things they need to do to work this week and improve as a team," said Saban. ""Chattanooga is a very well-coached team and (Huesman) has done a really good job there. They're 8-2 and one of the top teams in their division. They have 14 starters returning from last year's team. They basically do a really good job on offense with the quarterback run-type stuff, and their play action game which is difficult to defend. They really play hard on defense and special teams and this is a game that we need to focus on what we need to do technically to get better as a team and try to go out and play our best game and build on what we did in the last game."

THIS WEEK'S SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

Texas-San Antonio (5-5) at Texas A&M (7-3, 4-3 SEC), Series: First Meeting, 11 a.m. CT • ESPNU, College Station, Texas • Kyle Field (102,512)

Louisiana-Lafayette (4-5) at Georgia (6-4, 4-4 SEC), Series: UGA leads, 1-0, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network Alternate Channel,  Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)

Florida (7-2, 5-2 SEC) at LSU (6-3, 4-2 SEC), Series: UF leads, 31-28-3, Noon CT • SEC Network, Last: LSU, 35-28 (2015 at Baton Rouge), Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (102,321)

Missouri (3-7, 1-5 SEC) at Tennessee (7-3, 3-3 SEC),  Series: MIZ leads, 3-1, 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS,  Last: UT, 19-8 (2015 at Columbia),   Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)  

Western Carolina (2-8) at South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 SEC), Series: SC leads, 4-0, 3 p.m. CT • SEC Network Alternate Channel, Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Austin Peay (0-10) at Kentucky (5-5, 4-4 SEC), Series: First Meeting, 3:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (61,000)   

UT-Chattanooga (8-2) at Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC),  Series: UA leads, 12-0, 6 p.m. CT • ESPN2, Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)

Arkansas (6-4, 2-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (4-6, 2-4 SEC), Series: ARK leads, 15-10-1, 6 p.m. CT • ESPNU, Last: MSU, 51-50 (2015 at Fayetteville),  Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337)

Alabama A&M (4-6) at Auburn (7-3, 5-2 SEC),   Series: AU leads, 1-0, 6:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network Alternate Channel,  Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)

Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5 SEC),  Series: UM leads, 50-39-2, 7 p.m. CT • SEC Network,   Last: UM, 27-16 (2015 at Oxford. Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (40,350)

SEC FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

OFFENSE:
JALEN HURTS, QB, ALABAMA:
• Became the first quarterback in Alabama history to throw for 300 yards (347) and rush for 100 yards (100) in the same game.
• Accounted for 447 yards of total offense, which ranks as the third-best total in school history.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 15, 2016

This past weekend in college football was one that will not soon be forgotten.
It was one of big upsets and sheer insanity as half of the Top 10 teams in last week's College Football Playoff selection committee poll went down to defeat.
Last week's No. 2 team, the Clemson Tigers started the madness by falling at home to unranked Pitt, and Dabo Swinney's team would later be followed by No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Washington, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn in the upset parade.
And while there was the question of whether those upsets would result in a huge shakeup with this week's CFP rankings, Tuesday's unveiling of the poll hardly reflected a dramatic alteration of the poll.
Of course the one constant in the poll is Nick Saban's No. 1 and 10-0 Alabama Crimson Tide team.
The Tide does not appear to be leaving that spot anytime soon, especially after its impressive 51-3 win over Mississippi State this past weekend.  Saban's team is followed by Urban Meyer's No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, who look to be the only team comparable to Alabama at this point in the season.
Only time will tell, however, if Meyer's team wlll have a decent path to the playoffs or not.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 15, 2016

It was Archie Miller's Dayton Flyers who perhaps dealt Avery Johnson's first University of Alabama men's basketball team its toughest blow of the 2015-2016 season, an ugly 80-48 loss at the UD Arena.
On Tuesday in an afternoon special at Coleman Coliseum, the Crimson Tide hosted the rematch, and although it was very much a different type of game this time around, a host of missed opportunities for Johnson's second Alabama team translated into a frustrating 77-72 defeat before a crowd of 10,834.
Alabama fell to 1-1 on the young season while the Flyers improved to 2-0.
"A hard-fought game tonight and I'm really proud of our guys, and didn't have as good of second half as we wanted to," said Johnson. "I thought early on in the second half we defended the three-point line well, but we gave up two critical threes during that stretch. (Dayton senior guard) Scoochie (Smith) got away from us a little bit on the drive and we missed some shots we normally make. We didn't do a good job of taking care of the ball at the end, but a lot of situations that we can grow and learn from, and we're definitely going to teach and help our guys improve, but we had so many teachable moments that happened tonight."
Led by the shooting of redshirt freshman guard Dazon Ingram and junior forward Riley Norris among others, the Crimson Tide came out blazing from the field and burst to an early 10-2 lead.
However, just that quickly the Tide hit a cold spell and the Flyers caught fire, scoring eight in a row to tie the game at 10-10.
The visitors continued a run that reached 16-3, and this resulted in an 18-13 lead by the Flyers at the 10:04 mark of the first half.
Tide senior forward Jimmie Taylor, though, ignited an 11-2 UA spurt that led to Alabama going back on top 24-20 with just less than six minutes remaining.
Dayton trimmed the Tide lead to one on three occasions after this, but at the half, the Alabama lead was 36-31.
After a trey by Collins put the Tide up 41-36 in the second half, the Flyers scored five of the next six points to trim the UA advantage to 42-41 with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game.

Rainbow trout season at Madison County Public Fishing Lake begins Friday, November 25, 2016. To fish for trout, anglers must have a $5 daily trout permit in addition to a valid fishing license. The lake will be open Friday through Sunday in December and January, but closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Madison County Lake is located 11 miles east of Huntsville in Gurley, Ala.

The Birmingham Zoo invites the community to give back to those in need this holiday season. On Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20, Zoo visitors can enjoy half-price admission by bringing any canned or non-perishable food item. On this particular weekend, guests who donate a food item to the United Way Food Bank will pay $8 (plus tax) for adults, $7 (plus tax) for senior citizens 65 years and older, $7 (plus tax) for military, and $5.50 (plus tax) for children 2-12 years old. Children under age two are free. The Zoo requests that visitors bring one item per person to receive the discount.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 14, 2016

A 51-3 victory over Mississippi State by Nick Saban's No. 1 Alabama football team this past weekend extended the Crimson Tide program's overall winning streak to 22 games, but most importantly improved UA to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama played one of its most complete games of the season in romping past Dan Mullen's Bulldogs, and now the Crimson Tide stands only a handful of wins away from running the table and repeating as both SEC and College Football Playoff national champions.
Saban noted on Monday, though, that his team cannot afford to lose focus on its overall mission, which includes continuing to improve on a weekly basis. This includes its upcoming game on Saturday against Russ Huesman's Football Championship Subdivision Chattanooga Mocs of the Southern Conference.
The Tide and the Mocs (8-2 overall, 6-2 in SoCon play) meet at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
"I think this week, you know with the ole Shawshank Redemption statement, you're either busy living or you're busy dying, really kind of means you're really not going to stay the same," said Saban. "So from our perspective, we're either going to get better or we're going to get worse, we're probably not going to stay the same. So we need each unit on the team, each group on the team, each individual on the team to take ownership and be responsible for the things they need to do to work this week and improve as a team."
He added that his team will be facing a talented Moc team that was ranked No. 7 in the FCS before falling at home this past weekend to Wofford.
"Chattanooga is a very well-coached team and (Huesman) has done a really good job there," said Saban. "They're 8-2 and one of the top teams in their division. They have 14 starters returning from last year's team. They basically do a really good job on offense with the quarterback run-type stuff, and their play action game which is difficult to defend. They really play hard on defense and special teams and this is a game that we need to focus on what we need to do technically to get better as a team and try to go out and play our best game and build on what we did in the last game."

By Stan J. Griffin: November 12, 2016

Entering Saturday's game between No. 1. Alabama and Dan Mullen's Mississippi State Bulldogs, one of the questions for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide team was whether it might put forth a sluggish performance against the Bulldogs, perhaps as a result of the infamous "LSU hangover effect."
As it turns out, those fears proved to be more than slightly unfounded as the Crimson Tide rolled early and often, gaining a relatively stress-free 51-3 rout of the Bulldogs in front of a crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Tide was led by a prolific performance from true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and another smothering effort from a Tide defense coming off a shutout performance against LSU.
Hurts, the Channelview, Texas native, completed 28 of 37 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns along with one interception. He also carried the ball 11 times for 100 yards and another score.
Meanwhile the UA defense held the Bulldogs to three points and 274 total yards, including only 94 yards on the ground.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide, with its 22nd consecutive victory, improved to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs fell to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in league play.
"It was good to see our players come out and start fast even though we didn't finish the first drive," said Saban. "We threw the ball effectively and really did a good job. You know, (Hurts) had a really good day today and it's one of the things we've been wanting to do is try to develop some confidence in the passing game and obviously he was able to do that very well today. We got the ball to some of our playmakers down the field and they had the opportunity to make big plays. ArDarius Stewart had a big day today and O.J. Howard, so that was really a positive for us. Jalen also had 100 yards rushing, which is something that's never been done here before. He had over 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, so that's something that he should be proud of.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 11, 2016

Avery Johnson's University of Alabama men's basketball team and Kristy Curry's Crimson Tide women's team opened the 2016-17 season with big victories on Friday in front of raucous crowds at Coleman Coliseum.
Johnson's team used a second-half surge to propel it past Cliff Ellis's Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 70-53 while Curry's squad had little difficulty in romping past the New Orleans Privateers 78-57.

The following are recaps of both Crimson Tide basketball victories Friday:

ALABAMA 70, COASTAL CAROLINA 53:
After a first half where Johnson's team was not on all cylinders and trailed by six at halftime, a second-half offensive and defensive surge by the Tide allowed it to take a fairly comfortable lead of 52-42 with just over 10 minutes left.
But as that advantage began to dwindle, with the visiting Chanticleers trimming the lead to 52-48 with just over seven minutes left, Alabama senior guard Corban Collins, in his first official game in a Crimson Tide uniform, halted that run by the visitors in big fashion.
He nailed a huge 3-pointer to propel the Tide on its own 8-0 spurt that built the lead back to 12 at 60-48, and Alabama coasted from there, building a lead of 19 points down the stretch before settling for the 17-point triumph.
Collins led the Crimson Tide with 15 points, which included three treys and a perfect 6-of-6 night from the free throw line. He also added three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"It was kind of a tale of two halves," said Johnson. "We weren't very good in the first half and (the Chanticleers) had a lot to do with it. We were out of rhythm, we didn't rebound, and they obviously made some threes, but we changed the lineup at the start of the second half and put (graduate transfer) Bola (Olaniyan) in at four. We thought that gave us some more energy and brought Shannon (Hale) off the bench along with some of our other guys. It was a tale of two halves and we've got a lot of work to do, and a long way to go, but (Collins and redshirt freshman guard Dazon Ingram) they really compliment each other. They play well together, they get along well, and so I like the way both play on an off the ball. Both are terrific defenders, so we wouldn't be sitting here with a 17-point win if it wasn't for Dazon and Corban."
Ingram, who only played in seven games last season before missing the rest of the season due to injury, added 11 points, including three treys, four boards, five assists and a steal.
Alabama led 11-9 after a trey by Riley Norris, but Coastal Carolina scored the next eight points to build a 17-11 lead of its own.
At the 5:19 mark the lead was 24-16 for Ellis's team, and the closest the Tide could get the rest of the half was five points. Alabama trailed 33-27 at the intermission.
The Chanticleers hit a 3-point bomb to make the score 36-30 early in the second half, but Alabama scored 12 of the next 14 points to move in front 42-35. During this surge, the Tide turned up its defensive attack and the Chanticleers were unable to get off many quality shots.
Ellis noted after the game that Alabama's defense simply wore his team out in the second half.
Alabama's lead remained at around eight points or so, and two free throws by Hale made the score 52-42 at the 10:14 mark.
Coastal Carolina did not fold, scoring six in a row to make the score 52-48, but Collins hit the shot of the night, a trey at the 5:48 mark to make the score 55-48. This seemed to light a fire under the Tide and Alabama cruised after the Collins dagger.
Norris finished with 14 points and also made three from three-point range.
Alabama returns home on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to take on Dayton in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 12:15 p.m. CT with the game airing  on ESPN2 as a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.

ALABAMA 78, NEW ORLEANS 57 (WOMEN):
The Crimson Tide in its season-opener, making its official return to Coleman Coliseum, could not get its 3-point attack going Friday, hitting only 2 of 14 from the arc.
But one of those treys, by junior guard Hannah Cook, proved to be especially pivotal.
Alabama and New Orleans found themselves in a 17-17 deadlock after the first period of play, and with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter the Privateers were still giving Alabama all it wanted, leading 22-21 after a trey by standout shooter Randi Brown.
At the 6:56 mark, though, Cook hit the Tide's first 3-pointer of the night, and that seemed to breathe a good deal of life into a sputtering Tide team, propelling it to an 11-0 run that put UA up 32-22.
The Crimson Tide never tailed again after that, and Alabama outscored New Orleans 26-13 in that second quarter. That critical period proved to be a major difference between a Tide rout and perhaps a contest that was a bit closer.
"I thought there were three really good things that we did the second half, to be down 22 to 21 on the glass and then to out-rebound them 43 to 38, I thought we did a good job taking care of the basketball the second half, and then to have five players in double figures," said Curry. "I thought those were three categories that in the end really made a difference. It was ugly at times, but ugly counts and it was great to get those first-game jitters and the environment out of our system. It certainly was a good experience for us tonight.
"We were sputtering a little bit, but you know at the end of the day, I thought that we were rushing things a little bit and weren't settled on shots. Maybe again, that's just anxious and I didn't think that you could fault our effort as much as I was just trying to get them to slow down a little bit and let the game come to them and it was more a little bit of focus. It certainly wasn't a lack of effort."
Meo Knight led the Crimson Tide with 18 points, while Shaquera Wade added 16.
Joining Knight and Wade in double figures were freshmen Ashley Knight and Jordan Lewis with 12 points and 11 points, respectively, and junior Ashley Williams, who finished with 10. Lewis was the team’s leader in rebounds with eight to go along with four assists and four steals.
In addition to leading the team in points, Meoshonti Knight collected a game-best five steals and tied for Lewis with a game-high four assists.
Cook had seven points, along with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
For the game, the Tide outscored New Orleans, 48-16, in the paint and 18-0 in fastbreak points. Alabama also won the battle of the boards, 43-38, and forced 22 Privateer turnovers.
Next up, the Tide hosts Mississippi Valley State on Monday, Nov. 14.
The game is slated to tip at 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network +.

Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications

Despite what parents may think, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has categorized corded window coverings as one of the top five hidden hazards in American homes with nearly one child dying every month due to strangulation and another child suffering each month from near strangulation.  “These figures are disturbing and parents need to be aware that these accidents can be prevented,” says Rob Leonard, a local entrepreneur and advocate for window cord safety.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 11, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

You will have to excuse University of Alabama men's basketball coach if he appeared to have an extra glow of excitement during a media session held at Coleman Coliseum Friday morning.
And it was even more of an enthusiastic demeanor than usual for the always-effervescent and typically-animated second-year Crimson Tide coach.
But there was certainly good reason for this.
Friday's press conference allowed Johnson the opportunity to discuss his budding program's Class of 2017 signee group, ranked No. 2 in the nation by Scout.com and Rivals.com, and a landmark five-man class that will rank as the highest one in the annals of Alabama men's basketball.
That class includes guards Herb Jones (Hale County High School), John Petty (Jemison High School in Huntsville) and Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook of Mableton, Ga.) and forwards Alex Reese (Pelham High School) and Galin Smith (Clinton High School, Miss.).  All five were rated as either four-star or five-star prospects, and all were Top 100 recruits nationally according to Rivals.com.
After thanking numerous individuals for their contributions to the class, including UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle, faculty members, Alabama football coach Nick Saban and members of his coaching staff among others, Johnson noted that the class represents an enormous milestone in the history of Crimson Tide basketball, and also sends a message regarding the mission of his program.
"This is the result of everybody pulling in the same direction and this is not about Avery Johnson. This is about a group of people that have the same vision, that have great communication, and at the end of the day, when we leave the room, we all agree upon the same thing," he said. "This is a big day for University of Alabama basketball, not just for our game tonight (against Coastal Carolina), but with this 2017 class, and sure, wherever we're ranked, it's a number one class in my mind. So wherever we're ranked nationally, that's great, but this is a huge day for us because when Coach Battle decides to hire me for this job, we talked about putting a fence around Alabama. That's what we said in our introductory press conference. And we've done that. We've signed the top three players in the state of Alabama.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 10, 2016

A 10-0 victory at then-No. 13 LSU this past weekend completed a grueling four-game Southeastern Conference gauntlet for Nick Saban's No. 1 University of Alabama football team that also included games against ranked opponents Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M, with three of those pivotal league games away from the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
A bit earlier in the season it was assumed by many that if the Crimson Tide was able to make it through that quartet of SEC clashes undefeated, it would generally be smooth sailing for Alabama, at least until the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl showdown against archrival Auburn.
Not so fast.
Saban's team is now gearing up to host Dan Mullen's Mississippi State Bulldog team, a team coming off a huge 35-28 upset win over then-No. 4 Texas A&M last weekend in Starkville, and a team which has shown significant improvement over the past three weeks following a shaky 2-4 start.
Alabama (9-0 overall, 6-0 in SEC play) clashes with the Bulldogs (4-5 overall, 2-3 in league play) Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT and the contest will be televised by ESPN.
Saban said earlier this week that he knows the Bulldogs will certainly not be a pushover by any means for his top-ranked Crimson Tide squad.
"They have played better and better each and every week, and they're probably playing their best football of the season right now, pretty obvious with their win over Texas A&M how good they are playing right now," Saban said. "Their quarterback (sophomore Nick Fitzgerald) has done a really good job for them all year long and he's kind of the center of what they do in terms of how much he runs the ball and his effectiveness as a runner as well as being a very effective passer. (Senior) Fred Ross is a very good receiver and an outside threat that can create explosive plays for them and they've been able to run effectively, and defensively they create a lot of issues and problems in terms of negative plays and how aggressive they are and they're very well-coached and good special teams. (Mullen) has done a great job there for a lot of years and we've always had some really difficult games and that's what will be our expectation in this game."

THIS WEEK'S SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 SEC) at Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC), Series: UA leads, 78-18-3, 11 a.m. CT • ESPN, Last: UA, 31-6 (2015 at Starkville), Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)

South Carolina (5-4, 3-4 SEC) at Florida (6-2, 4-2 SEC), Series: UF leads, 25-8-3, 11 a.m. CT • CBS, Last: UF, 25-8-3 (2015 at Columbia), Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field (88,548)

Kentucky (5-4, 4-3 SEC) at Tennessee (6-3, 2-3 SEC), Series: UT leads, 78-24-9, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network, Last: UT, 52-21 (2015 at Lexington), Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)

Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Missouri (2-7, 0-5 SEC), Series: VU leads, 4-3-1, 2:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network,  Last: VU, 10-3 (2015 at Nashville),  Columbia, Mo. • Faurot Field / Memorial Stadium (71,168)    

Auburn (7-2, 5-1 SEC) at Georgia (5-4, 3-4), Series: UGA leads, 56-55-8, 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS, Last: UGA, 20-13 (2015 at Auburn), Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)

LSU (5-3, 3-2 SEC) at Arkansas (6-3, 2-3 SEC), Series: LSU leads, 37-22-2, 6 p.m. CT • ESPN, Last: ARK, 31-14 (2015 at Baton Rouge), Fayetteville, Ark. • Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)    

Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC), Series: TAMU leads, 6-2, 6:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network,  Last: UM, 23-3 (2015 at Oxford),  College Station, Texas • Kyle Field (102,512)

SEC FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

OFFENSE:
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State:
• Fitzgerald guided MSU to its first victory over a Top-5 ranked team since 2014, accounting for four touchdowns and 391 yards of total offense as the Bulldogs defeated No. 4 Texas

By Stan J. Griffin: November 8, 2016

A huge 10-0 road win by Nick Saban's Alabama football team Saturday against Southeastern Conference rival LSU allowed the Crimson Tide to remain in a familiar place in the second College Football Playoff selection committee poll, announced Tuesday night.
That being the No. 1 position.
Dabo Swinney's Clemson Tigers and Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines also remained in the same slots, at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, but the big question of the night involved who would take over the No. 4 spot.
Last week in the first playoff poll of the season, the committee surprised many observers by putting a one-loss Texas A&M at No. 4 instead of the undefeated Washington Huskies.
And then Kevin Sumlin's Aggies promptly were stunned Saturday by Mississippi State in Starkville.
Washington, however, got the fourth spot in the new rankings, followed by Ohio State at No. 5, Louisville at No. 6 and Wisconsin at No. 7. The Buckeyes appear to have a stronger overall resume at this point than Washington, but the Huskies' unbeaten record apparently gave them the edge over Urban Meyer's team.

Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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