TUSCALOOSA | Will the University of Alabama basketball team see the Elston Turner who scored 40 points against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena last week - or the one who scored four points in Texas A&M's home loss to Florida on Thursday night?
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant isn't sure, but he knows unless UA has a strong defensive effort against the Aggies tonight at Coleman Coliseum, it is likely to be the former, if not from Turner, then from someone else.
"Our mentality has to be that we need to do a great job on the defensive end," Grant said. "They have a lot of weapons at A&M so our defensive challenge is different than just stopping one guy.
Texas A&M at Alabama
When: 5 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 10-6, 2-1 SEC. Texas A&M 12-4, 2-1
TV: Fox Sports South
Radio: 95.3 FM
"Elston Turner has a tremendous ability to score the basketball. Everyone is aware of how he exploded at Kentucky. He's a scorer. He scores in a variety of ways and his team does a great job of understanding how to take advantage of what he does, (but) there is a very good group of players around him. Ray Turner is 240 pounds on the inside and can score the basketball. They have good guards. The system they run, they throw a lot of things at you. So it is definitely a defensive challenge for us."
Alabama should at least have some added confidence in tonight's game, coming in with back-to-back Southeastern Conference victories, a home win over Tennessee and a road blowout of Mississippi State last Wednesday.
Grant also said he was "hopeful" that point guard Trevor Releford, who sprained an ankle in practice last Monday and did not play in the win over MSU, could see action today.
"Right now, it's going to basically come down to his pain tolerance," Grant said at his Friday press conference. "Obviously, he still has some stiffness and soreness. I want to see him (Friday at practice), see what he's able to do in terms of mobility. Like we said before, the ultimate goal is to make sure that he's healthy and that we don't do something to jeopardize his health. We'll evaluate it today in practice, but we're hopeful that if everything goes well today then he will be available."
"It was a little different, but going into the game we knew that he may not play so everyone was willing to do something extra to get the win," said Crimson Tide guard Trevor Lacey, who handled the majority of the point guard duties in Releford's absence. "We played earlier without him and Andrew Steele. It takes guys coming together and doing little things to piece it all together."
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.