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December 4, 2012TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama basketball players aren't always familiar with the nonconference teams they play, but Alabama sophomore guard Trevor Lacey remembers plenty about the Dayton Flyers.
The first true road test for Lacey and Alabama's other freshmen last year was at a raucous University of Dayton Arena, where the Flyers rolled to a 74-62 win over the Crimson Tide.
"It was very loud," Lacey recalled Tuesday. "I remember I didn't hear a single play that we called. I was running around out there like a chicken with my head cut off. They took us out of every set we tried to run, from the jump. They just outplayed us the whole game. We made runs, but we just never could overcome the deficit. I know they still have some of the same guys they had last year. They're going to try to come into our building and do the same thing as last year."
In addition to a 5-2 Flyer team, Alabama will have to overcome its own injury problems tonight, with only eight scholarship players expected to be available. Center Carl Engstrom, who injured a knee less than four minutes into Saturday's loss at Cincinnati, is still being evaluated but is out tonight and possibly longer. The same is true of guard Andrew Steele. According to UA coach Anthony Grant, Steele - who has missed two games because of a groin injury - is now being evaluated for a possible sports hernia.
In their absence, Alabama continues to be carried by the scoring of point guard Trevor Releford, averaging 17.5 points per game, and Lacey, who had 16 points and seven rebounds in the loss at Cincinnati.
Senior guard Kevin Dillard leads four Dayton players in double figures, averaging 13.9 points per game. He also tops the team in assists (4.0) and steals (1.3).
Junior guard Vee Sanford (11.7 ppg), senior forward Josh Benson (10.6 ppg) and junior forward Devin Oliver (10.6 ppg) also average in double figures on the season. Oliver also tops the team in rebounds with eight per game.
Grant is an alumnus of Dayton but said Tuesday that there would not be any sentimentality about the game.
"It's never about me," Grant said.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.