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February 4, 2013

Softball team on TV seven times

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama softball team will have seven regular-season games televised on four different networks in the 2013 season.

The Crimson Tide will play games on ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports Net and CSS, including four games on the ESPN networks.

Alabama's home television contests are March 23 against Auburn on CSS, March 24 against Auburn on ESPNU, April 4 and 5 against Missouri on ESPNU and April 21 against Mississippi State on Fox Sports Net.

Alabama will have road games televised on March 16 at South Carolina on CSS and on April 25 at LSU on ESPN2.

A total of 35 Southeastern Conference games will be televised on the networks, including the entire SEC Tournament, which will be played May 8-11 in Lexington, Ky.

Alabama will open its season Friday against Illinois in the UNI Dome Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UA will also play host Northern Iowa, Drake, Green Bay and North Dakota State in the event. Alabama's home opener is set for 6 p.m. next Tuesday against South Alabama at Rhoads Stadium.

Gymnasts still No. 5

The Alabama gymnastics team remained at No. 5 in the rankings for the third week in a row after its 197.5 to 196.95 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday. Florida, which Alabama will face Friday, remained No. 1 for the second week in a row. Oklahoma checks in at second, followed by Michigan and UCLA to round out the top five.

The Crimson Tide rose nationally on three of four events. Alabama jumped to fourth on vault, seventh on balance beam and seventh on floor exercise. After counting a fall on the uneven bars Saturday, the Crimson Tide fell from third to fifth.

Junior Diandra Milliner rose one spot to No. 6 on vault, while senior Ashley Priess and junior Sarah DeMeo are tied for seventh on the uneven bars. Junior Kim Jacob posted a career-best 9.95 on floor exercise Saturday, bringing her up to fifth in the country.

Senior Ashley Sledge was taken out of the lineup in the middle of Saturday's meet after she strained her shoulder on the uneven bars. Patterson said Monday that Sledge could have gone back in but was held out for precautionary reasons. She is slated to compete against Florida.

The Gators have four gymnasts in the top 14 in the all-around and at least one gymnast in the top three on all four events. Alabama travels to Gainesville, Fla., on Friday for a 6 p.m. meet.

Closing the year

The UA men's and women's swimming and diving teams held their senior day at the Don Gambril Aquatic Center last Saturday. Jenna Gallo, Peter Hillyer and fellow seniors Anestis Arampatzis, John Ellis, Hillary Hahmann, Brandon Lowe, Jake Reynolds and Reese Shirey were honored prior to the competition. The women's team also raced in pink suits in support of the Alabama Athletics Power of Pink initiative, which raises awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

UA beat South Carolina and lost to Georgia on the men's side, with the women losing to both schools.

Strong months for UA

The Crimson Tide men's basketball team has gone 13-2 during the months of November, January and February but faltered to a 1-5 record in December.

Alabama lost fifth-year senior Andrew Steele, who missed seven games from Nov. 23-Dec. 30, when he had surgery to repair a sports hernia. Starting center Cliff Engstrom was lost for the season early in a Dec. 1 loss to Cincinnati with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

Alabama (14-7, 6-2 in Southeastrn Conference play) has won six of its last seven and seven of its last nine games. The Crimson Tide will travel to Auburn for a game Wednesday and host LSU on Saturday. Alabama is 12-2 when Steele has played this season.

UA will play its third road game in its last four contests when it travels to Auburn in a 7 p.m. game that will be televised on the SEC Network on Wednesday.

Hot shot

Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey hit a 3-pointer with 56.8 seconds remaining in Alabama's victory at Vanderbilt on Saturday, giving the Crimson Tide its first lead of the game at 56-54. It was Lacey's third game-winning basket of the season and second in league action. He hit a game-winner against South Dakota State on Nov. 9 and against Texas A&M on Jan. 19.

The Crimson Tide has had a knack for pulling out close, come-from-behind victories. Alabama did it against both Arkansas and Vanderbilt last week, coming from a three-point deficit late in the second half to overcome the Razorbacks, 59-56, before trailing by as much as 11 points with less than eight minutes to play before the late heroics at Vandy.

Lacey isn't the only Trevor playing well for Alabama. Trevor Releford is averaging 15.3 points per game and Lacey 12.4. They have combined for about 43 percent of UA's 63.9 points-per-game average.

Defense holding strong

The Alabama men's basketball team has held 13 of 21 opponents, including six straight SEC foes, to under 60 points in a game. Alabama is 10-3 when holding opponents under the 60-point mark.

UA ranks second in the SEC both overall (58.3 points allowed per game) and in league play (57.5 points) in scoring defense. Alabama ranks 22nd nationally in points allowed per game.

Young scorers

Five of the top six scorers for the UA men are freshmen or sophomores. Players from those two classes have combined to score a total of 72 percent of Alabama's points, grab 66 percent of the rebounds and dish out 70 percent of UA's assists.

Marc Torrence contributed to this report. Tommy Deas can be reached at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.


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