March 8, 2007

Preview: Alabama vs. Kentucky

What: East No. 4 Kentucky (20-10, 9-7 SEC) vs. West No. 5 Alabama (20-10, 7-9 SEC)
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
When: Wednesday, March 8
Time/TV: Noon (CST)/Lincoln Financial
Series record: Kentucky leads 95-35
Last meeting: The Tide won in Tuscaloosa 72-61 earlier in the season.

The Coaches
Alabama -- Mark Gottfried (ninth season) has compiled a record of 181-106 at Alabama and an overall mark of 249-130.

Kentucky -- Tubby Smith (tenth season) has compiled a record of 261-81 at Kentucky and an overall record of 385-143.

The Starting Lineups
Forward -- 35 Richard Hendrix (6-8, 265, So., 14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG)
Forward -- 12 Alonzo Gee (6-6, 215, So. 13.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
Center -- 33 Jermareo Davidson (6-10, 230, Sr., 15 PPG, 8.7 RPG)
Guard -- 04 Brandon Hollinger (5-11, 170, So., 4.3 PPG, 1.2 RPG)
Guard -- 1 Mykal Riley (6-6, 185, Jr., 12.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG)

Guard -- 03 Ramel Bradley (6-2, 176, Jr., 14.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Guard -- 05 Derrick Jasper (6-6, 213, Fr., 4.9 PPG, 4 RPG)
Guard -- 32 Joe Crawford (6-5, 211, Jr., 14.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
Center -- 33 Randolph Morris (6-11, 259, Jr., 15.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG)
Forward -- 13 Bobby Perry (6-8, 215, Sr., 7 PPG, 3.7 RPG)

Around the perimeter

Alabama: Hollinger and Riley, along with freshman Justin Tubbs, have not been able to establish themselves as truly dangerous three-point shooters this season, something the Tide desperately needs for its offense to remain balanced. The young Tide guards have, however, come a long way when it comes to defending the perimeter and held the Wildcats to 22 percent shooting from the arc in their last meeting.

Kentucky: Both Crawford and Bradley have shown sparks of brilliance throughout the season but can't seem to perform on a consistent basis. Meanwhile, senior Bobby Perry has seen his game heat up in the final weeks of the season. If his hot streak continues, the Tide will be in for a tough time from the perimeter.

Advantage: Kentucky

In the paint

Alabama: With Davidson recovering from a back injury he sustained Sunday, the Tide's inside game will depend even more than usual on the production of Hendrix. Hendrix has been the Tide's most reliable scorer all season but most avoid getting into early foul trouble as he did Sunday. Demetrius Jemison has proven to be a reliable backup with great hustle but can't make up for Davidson's physical prowess.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have struggled against teams with strong post play all season long due mostly to their small lineup. The Wildcats' top post player, Morris, has been disappointing at best down the stretch earning double-digit reboounds just twice in the last 12 games.

Advantage: Alabama

What to watch for: Even with Davidson limited, the Tide match up well against the Wildcats in the paint but the Tide caught a break in the first meeting when Kentucky's guards couldn't seem to buy an outside shot. The Tide can't expect to be so lucky twice in a row. The Cats have a long legacy of domination in Atlanta and always seem to find their best performances of the year during the SEC Tournament.

Prediction: Alabama 68, Kentucky 75

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