It goes without saying that tonight’s game for Alabama Men’s Basketball team is the most important game to date.
The 17-12 (8-8 SEC) Tide need a win badly against a good 18-11 (9-7 SEC) Florida Gators team that is looking for some road game revenge following a brutal 68-50 loss February 3rd in what has been one of Alabama’s most impressive wins of their inconsistent season.
Everything went right for the Tide that day as they put up a 41-17 second half, bulldozing over a then 23rd ranked Gators team that was limited to 33 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, that 68-50 performance has not been what Tide fans have received on a consistent basis.
What can Tide fans even think of when they look back on this regular season? A team that can beat the talk of the nation in Trae Young of Oklahoma as well of a team that falls short to a weak UCF earlier in the season. Perhaps when you think of this Crimson Tide team, you think of the team that without their star Colin Sexton, is still able to beat SEC leader Auburn. But then again, this is the same team who would lose to that SEC leader by 18 on the road. Whether you want to look at this team with a glass half full or half empty mindset, you cannot deny their inconsistency.
Despite the inconsistency that has put them in this position where they have a chance to take this season to where they have wanted to go all year long- The NCAA tournament. The game versus the Gators will show what this team is all about as they play an evenly matched team at home in what appears to be a must win. Florida comes in with the better offense (5 in the SEC) while Bama comes in at 11th in the SEC but only 3 points shy at 73 points per game. The Tide also comes in with the star player in Sexton who is averaging 18.2 points per game which is good for 2nd in the SEC.
Alabama must use Sexton to get the better of the matchup as the team has been unable to make any of their last 3 difficult yet winnable games mean something. Braxton Key is looking to get back into his freshman season form where he averaged double digits following a few impressive scoring games. Avery Johnson Jr. also had 10 points in the last matchup while he has been much quieter in these last few losses. Donta Hall will be a player to watch out for as his 7-7 performance against Florida last time out provided a great change of pace on offensive for the tide, which was much different than the sluggish half-court offense the Tide ran when Hall was limited offensively to Arkansas.
Coach Avery Johnson schedules a season concluding with games against Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, and Texas A&M for a reason. This reason is not to lose almost all of these match-ups and miss out on the NCAA tournament. Alabama has seen itself play up to the competition as they have defeated 5 ranked opponents this season. The team has to put up a collective effort to prove to its fans that Avery Johnson was right when he picked this schedule.
The question ultimately remains “Which Bama Team will show up?”