Squandering a double-digit first-half lead is sure to have Alabama feeling a bit disappointed as it looks to bounce back from its first home loss of the season Wednesday night against visiting Rhode Island. The Crimson Tide fell out of the top 25 rankings after dropping a 65-62 stunner against UCF on Sunday.
Alabama coach Avery Johnson was searching for answers after watching his team fall apart in the second half, then give the ball away on a critical late possession with UCF leading by one. ”We had an 11-point lead there in the first half and didn’t get enough separation,“ Johnson said afterward. ”We had some careless turnovers, missed some of our shots that we normally make and that we’re capable of making. Alabama will begin the slow climb back to the national rankings Wednesday against a Rhode Island team that is off to a sizzling start. The Rams are coming off consecutive wins over Brown and Providence and have a victory over nationally ranked Seton Hall on their resume, as well.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, SEC Network Plus
ABOUT RHODE ISLAND (5-2): The Rams rank inside the top 50 nationally in field-goal success rate at 49.2 percent - a skill that has helped them mask some truly dreadful glass-crashing (31.4 rebounds per game, 332nd out of 351 Division I teams). Fourth-year guard Jared Terrell paces Rhode Island in scoring at 17.9 points per game, but is averaging just 12.7 points on 12-of-33 shooting in three games since his 32-point breakout in the upset win over Seton Hall. Senior forward Andre Berry contributes 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds and leads the Atlantic 10 in shooting at 65.3 percent.
ABOUT ALABAMA (6-2): Look for a major bounceback game from freshman guard Collin Sexton, who was held to a collegiate-low seven points on 0-of-4 shooting from the field; Sexton, who leads the Crimson Tide at 22.1 ppg, had scored at least 22 points in five of his first six games prior to Sunday’s clunker. The loss spoiled a career performance from junior forward Donta Hall, who poured in 20 points on a perfect 9-for-9 showing from the field while adding four blocked shots. Alabama is averaging roughly 11 points more than it did last season, while shooting 50.7 percent this year compared to 42.3 percent in 2016-17.
1. Alabama averages 6.6 blocked shots per game, tied for the fifth-best in the country.
2. Sexton’s scoring average is just 0.5 points shy of the combined total of Alabama’s top two scorers from last season.
3. Rhode Island has taken only 109 3-pointers to date; only nine Division I schools have attempted fewer.
PREDICTION: Alabama 76, Rhode Island 61