No. 4 Alabama riding momentum into meeting with streaking Memphis
Following a big 71-65 comeback win over top-ranked Houston, No. 4 Alabama will look to extend its winning streak to four games when it faces Memphis Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Crimson Tide (8-1) rallied from 15 points down in the second half to upset the Cougars on the road behind the play of Noah Clowney (16 points, 11 rebounds), Jaden Bradley (12 points, four assists) and Mark Sears (11 points).
Alabama’s defense was also outstanding, limiting Houston to just three made field goals in the last eight-plus minutes of the game.
With the victory, the Crimson Tide became the first team to defeat two different No. 1 teams before January since the 1965-66 season when Duke accomplished the feat. Alabama captured a 103-101 quadruple-overtime win over then-No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 27.
“This is one of those character wins that shows that our guys are going to keep fighting no matter what the score is,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “We could have easily given up down 15. The start of the second half wasn’t great. We kind of made some changes with the bench guys, hung in there, kept clawing away at the lead, finally were able to take the lead and then were able to pull away from them.”
Despite being held to a season-low eight points (0 of 8 from the field, including 0 of 5 from the 3-point line) in the win over Houston, Brandon Miller remains the Tide leader in minutes (33.4), points (17.9) and rebounds (8.4) per game.
Sears (14.4 points per game, 3.3 assists per game), Clowney (9.4 ppg, 8.3 rebounds per game), Bradley (8.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), Nimari Burnett (7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg) and Charles Bediako (5.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) have also played major roles for an Alabama team that enters its matchup with Memphis averaging 83.6 points per game.
The Tigers (8-2) roll into the matchup with the Tide riding a six-game winning streak following an impressive 82-73 win over No. 11 Auburn in Atlanta on Saturday.
Kendric Davis, the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, had a season-high 27 points and nine rebounds in the victory over Auburn. DeAndre Williams (16 points, team-high 11 rebounds), Alex Lomax (13 points, four boards) and Keonte Kennedy (nine points, three rebounds) also played key roles in the upset, as did Memphis’ scrappy defense.
The Tigers limited Auburn to 38.1 percent shooting from the field (24 of 63) and 25 percent from behind the arc (6 of 24).
“We know this was a big win over us,” Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway said. “Auburn is a tough, tough, tough team. Physically, they’re No. 1 at protecting the rim with blocks, and we knew what it was going to be like to come in here. We wanted to be the tougher team mentally and physically because you know how hard coach (Bruce) Pearl’s teams are going to play.”
Seven different players have started for Hardaway through Memphis’ first 10 games. Davis (18.4 ppg) and Williams (14.3 ppg) are the Tigers’ top two scorers. Williams is also the team’s leading rebounder (7.7 rpg).
–Field Level Media