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January 30, 2013
Arkansas' press will test Tide
TUSCALOOSA | There is more than one kind of pressure in basketball, but the University of Alabama Crimson Tide will get a glimpse of at least two varieties tonight.
First, UA will have to deal with the trapping defense of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Second, coming off a one-point loss at Tennessee, the Crimson Tide will have to assert its homecourt advantage or risk losing touch with the leaders in the Southeastern Conference.
Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant is unconcerned about the standings - "our total focus is on Arkansas," he said at his Wednesday press conference - but is stressing ball security against the pressing style of Mike Anderson's Razorbacks.
"Having had a chance to watch Arkansas on film, I'm really impressed," Grant said. "You look at the numbers, and what jumps out at you defensively is forcing 20 turnovers, getting 10 steals a game. The pace of the game (and) style of play is going to be critical. We're going to have to do a great job of taking care of the basketball."
Alabama can counter with a dual point guard attack using Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey, but Grant cautions that there is more to attacking Arkansas than dribbling.
"It's more about understanding what we have to do in terms of when to attack, how to attack and when it's time to be patient and run offense," Grant said. "Obviously, the more skilled guys you have out there in terms of being able to handle and pass against a team like Arkansas, it helps. But you have to make good decisions. It comes down to your decision-making in terms of being able to take care of the basketball and find quality shots."
Arkansas, on the other hand, is looking to find a comfort zone away from home. The Razorbacks are 0-6 in games played away from Bud Walton Arena this season.
"You don't change what you do," Anderson said on the SEC teleconference earlier this week. "Playing on the road does put a premium on defense, but you do the same things to win, no matter where you are."
Arkansas is led statistically by senior forward Marshawn Powell, who is averaging 20.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the Razorbacks' last four contests.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.