TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama men's basketball team came back from New York City with a shiny trophy, but UA head coach Anthony Grant said it is premature for expectations to come with the hardware.
"We've played four games," Grant said of his 4-0 team, which returns home for a 7 p.m. game against Charleston Southern. "We still have a great deal to do. We are a work in progress."
Sophomore Trevor Releford leads the Crimson Tide with 17.8 points and 2.0 steals per contest, after making his first start of the season against Villanova in the championship game of the 2K Classic. Releford accounted for a career-best 25 points. Sophomore guards Trevor Lacey (16.3 ppg) and Rodney Cooper (15.5 ppg), also average in double figures.
"Trevor (Releford) is our most experienced player and it is good to see him stepping up to take ownership in the program," Grant said. "The same thing is true for (Cooper and Lacey). I think there is a big difference when players become sophomores. Things aren't new to them any more."
While the backcourt has carried the Crimson Tide to four wins, UA is still looking for consistency in the frontcourt. Sophomore Nick Jacobs is the team's statistical leader, averaging 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds despite a sprained ankle that has slowed him early in the season.
"As I said, we are still a work in progress," Grant said.
Charleston Southern (1-3) is coming off a 59-57 loss to East Tennessee State, a game in which the Bucs built a 35-15 lead in the first half before watching it slip away. Sophomore guards Arlon Harper (13.0 ppg) and Saah Nimley (12.0 ppg) lead the Bucs in scoring
"The challenge for our team is getting prepared for a somewhat different tempo of the game than we've seen as of late," Grant said.
"Charleston Southern has good depth and can shoot the ball extremely well. They average about 30 three-point attempts a game, get to the free throw line quite a bit and have outrebounded almost every team they have faced. It will be a challenge for us to guard the three-point line, keep them off the free throw line and rebound the basketball. Those are all areas we are focused on improving. We hope that improvement continues."
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.
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