Georgia basketball Gameday: Alabama preview

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

With Georgia's men's hoops program on fire, and a big game tonight against Alabama in Stegeman, we thought we'd bring you a look at the Tide. This will be the first of two games between the Dawgs, and Anthony Grant's squad.

5 straight is the current win streak. That's the longest Georgia has had in a long time, and Mark Fox's club looks much improved from the early season struggles that saw them lose 7 of their first 9. Now 12-11 (6-4 SEC), the Dawgs look to continue building on the impressive play of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and others to make it 6 in a row.

To do so, they'll need to knock off the Alabama Crimson Tide (15-8, 7-3) in a game that could strengthen hopes for a post season berth. The Tide are 3-5 on the road this year, and like Georgia, come in with severe problems offensively. Anthony Grant's team is averaging 62.6 pts per game this year (tied for 282nd in the country, Georgia is tied at 323rd and 59.7 pts per).

Georgiadogs.com lists Alabama as likely starting 4 guards around a 7'er inside. G Trevor Releford leads the way, averaging close to 15 pts per game, and making almost 40% of his 3s. Trevor Lacy runs the point, and is averaging 11 pts, 4 rebounds, and almost 3 assists per game since conference play began. Wings Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph flank them, in a lineup that bombs away from deep averaging over 16 attempts from 3 per game.

Moussa Gueye starts in the middle, although Atlanta's Nick Jacobs will get more minutes. The big man from Senegal averages 4.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, compared to just 1.7 points. So you can ignore him offensively. Jacobs is a strong scorer inside, and averaging almost 10 points per game off the bench, hitting near 57% of his shots.

Georgia's way to a W is pretty clear. One, we've got to keep having someone step up to help KCP offensively. Second, we've got to have our big men play strong defense against Jacobs and control the glass (Bama is getting outrebounded in SEC). Third, we've got to defend the perimeter.

Alabama is simple; they live by the 3 and die by the 3. Anthony Grant's teams have never been known for effective offense, often relying on isolations and players doing their own thing. When they can make their outside shots, they win. When they can't, they struggle, and they allow a lot of 3s defensively. As you may have seen (and judging by the attendance, you haven't), Georgia can also get lazy on the offensive end, just passing the ball back and forth outside hoping someone can hit a shot late in the shot clock. Alabama plays similarly, so it won't be pretty. Ultimately, keeping the streak alive depends on beating them in rebounding, and making our 3s better than that do.

Oh, and a packed house wouldn't hurt. So if you're near Athens, go late to work tomorrow after going to Stegeman at 9 for tip off. Otherwise, ESPNU will carry the game, again, at 9 p.m. this evening.

Go Dawgs!

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