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February 19, 2013

Alabama mustn't overlook Bulldogs

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama basketball team might have played its way into the Southeastern Conference race, but Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant was quick to point out Tuesday that his team could play itself out of contention just as quickly.

That's why Grant is urging his team to forget about last month's 75-43 win over Mississippi State, a blowout that started an ongoing 10-game losing streak for the Bulldogs.

"When you look at some of the losses we've had over the course of the season, we are a team that can't afford to take anyone lightly," Grant said. "If we don't show up prepared to play our best, we can get beat by anybody. If we do, we can beat anybody. That's just the nature of college basketball right now.

Mississippi State at Alabama
When: 7 p.m.

Where: Coleman Coliseum

Records: Alabama 17-8, 9-3 SEC;

Mississippi State 7-17, 2-10 SEC

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 95.3 FM

"The score looked one-sided in the first game, but our players have to remember that was an eight-point game at halftime," Grant said. "We came out in the second half and hit five straight 3s, I think. But we've got to realize that this is a capable team we are playing.

"I can't speak for their coach, but as I said about Coach (Frank) Martin (of South Carolina) last week, any time you take over a program and you're trying to change a culture and establish your identity, there's going to be some things that happen over the course of doing that. I think they are going through some of that."

With the suspension this week of forward Roquez Johnson, MSU is even more depleted from a roster standpoint than Alabama, with just five scholarship players available for Bulldogs coach Rick Ray. Freshman guard Craig Snow, a Montgomery native, leads MSU in scoring at 10.2 points per game.

Alabama will probably have eight players available as Grant listed senior forward Andrew Steele as "still doubtful" for tonight's game.

"I would say (Steele's injury) would be something we would manage day-to-day, game-to-game and week-to-week."

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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