Here are three questions for today's (12:30 p.m. CT/SEC Network/ESPN3) SEC basketball game between Alabama (13-7, 2-4 in SEC) and Arkansas (15-5, 3-2) at Coleman Coliseum.
Mitchell hasn't been much of a factor the past two weeks.
High-scoring Hogs or defensive-minded Crimson Tide?
Under first-year head coach Mike Anderson, Arkansas enters today's game ranked third among SEC teams in scoring, averaging 74.6 points per game. That's an impressive number considering the Razorbacks, who have averaged 63 points per game in their four road losses, lost junior forward Marshawn Powell, a preseason second-team all-SEC selection, to a season-ending knee injury just two games into the campaign.
Meanwhile, Alabama sits atop the SEC in scoring defense, surrendering 57.5 points per game. The Crimson Tide has given up 60 or more points at home twice this season (VCU and Vanderbilt). For UA, the defensive challenge won't truly begin until Arkansas sixth man B.J. Young checks in. The 6-foot-3 combo guard leads all SEC freshmen in scoring at 14.6 points per game.
APB for the Big Three?
In losses to Vanderbilt and South Carolina, the Crimson Tide got a grand total of 39 points from the trio of Trevor Releford, Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green. Through six SEC games, the trio have yet to post double-figure point totals in the same contest. Conclusion: Alabama isn't going to win many games in which its top three players average 6.5 points apiece.
Of the three, Releford, who is coming off a two-point performance against South Carolina, has been the most consistent scoring threat in league play. The sophomore point guard is averaging 12 points per SEC game. Meanwhile, after scoring 28 points in his first two SEC outings, Mitchell has averaged 6 points per game during the Crimson Tide's four-game skid and Green has yet to post back-to-back double-digit scoring games in league play.
Crisis mode or turbulence while achieving cruising altitude?
Given the comments made by the head coach following his team's fourth-straight loss, it wouldn't be a reach to describe the current state of this basketball team as the most troublesome of the Anthony Grant era in Tuscaloosa.
Schematic and personnel issues are one thing, but when a coach calls into question the passion and focus of his team in late January, the problem is bigger than cold shooting and freshman mistakes.
The turbulence the Crimson Tide experienced two seasons ago was understandable given that the program was in transition. Even with that, Grant's first UA team got off to a better start (3-3) in league play than his third squad. Two-plus seasons later, you'd think the entire roster would have assumed the identity of its coach. In some instances, that part of the buy-in apparently hasn't taken root.
And so here we are, essentially repeating the very same question from a week ago. If we're asking it again in a week's time, it's doubtful anyone in Crimson will like the answer.
The Man says: Alabama -11.5.
Prediction: Alabama 68, Arkansas 62.
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