Georgia at Alabama
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m. CT
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama (14-8, 4-4 SEC) Georgia (10-11, 1-7 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM


If you have a courtside seat at the Alabama-Georgia men’s basketball game Wednesday night, you might want to hold on tightly to your popcorn — and think about wearing a hard hat.

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have both struggled at times with keeping the basketball within the 94×50’ dimensions of the playing area this season, and both teams view reducing their turnovers as a key to success as they prepare for an SEC matchup at Coleman Coliseum.

Georgia is turning the ball over 16.6 times per game, a mark that ranks 341st out of the 353 NCAA Division I teams. In one of the season’s most striking statistical efforts, the Bulldogs scored 98 points in an impressive win knee Texas, despite turning the ball over 26 times.

Alabama is somewhat better (13.5 turnovers per game, 201st nationally) but is coming off a game where it turned the ball over a season-high 21 times at Auburn, leading to 30 Tiger points.

“We weren’t very good on either end of the floor,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “Our lack of offensive execution, — poor ball handling, spacing, ball movement — really stressed out our defense. We were on our heels all night long. We couldn’t get our defense set. When we got it set, we just didn’t move well. So we have a lot of room for improvement.

“It’s simple things. Make the good pass. Two hands on the ball are better than one. Things like that. We’ve just got to get better.”

Freshman guard Kira Lewis said that returning to Coleman Coliseum might help, but not as much as tenacity.

“You’re going to have games where you have mental lapses, where the crowd is going to be loud on the road but you’ve just got to play through it,” Lewis said.

With a homecourt advantage, Alabama may look to press more often in an attempt to exploit Georgia’s difficulties with ball handling.

“I think extending your defense is always the way to go,” Johnson said. “We probably extended ours too late in the last game. If we are in a nine or 10-man rotation, we should be able to extend our defense and create some more turnovers. Our steals are down this year. We’ve got to figure out ways to get more deflections, more steals and the way to do that is to extend your defense, mix up your defenses a little to keep offenses off balance.

“But to do that, you’ve got to take care of the ball (on offense). Hopefully they’ll be taking the ball out of the net or we are at the free throw line which gives us a chance to do all of those things.”

Georgia is led in scoring by 6-foot-9 Rashaun Hammonds (12.8 ppg) and 6-11 Nicholas Claxton.

“Georgia is a huge team, one of the bigger teams in the SEC,” Johnson said. “Claxton starts at center but he floats around with their offensive system and he will actually play some point guard. So don’t be surprised if he see him handling the ball and bringing the ball up the court which puts your defense in a bind sometimes.”

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

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