Alabama has a long and illustrious history in the city of New Orleans, the site of its upcoming College Football Playoff semifinal game in the Sugar Bowl. But in the recent past, the Sugar Bowl hasn’t been kind to the Crimson Tide.
Believe it or not, Alabama last won a Sugar Bowl at the conclusion of the 1992 season, punctuating an undefeated season with a national championship win over Miami 34-13 on Jan. 1, 1993. Since that time, however, in three Sugar Bowl appearances, Alabama is 0-3, including losses to Utah, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
Of course, Alabama beat LSU in the BCS National Championship Game to win a national title at the end of the 2011 season, but that was not designated a Sugar Bowl, only a BCS bowl game. It was Michigan and Virginia Tech that played in that season’s Sugar Bowl.
“The Sugar Bowl is always been something that’s been special to Alabama, it’s always been something that’s special to the SEC,” UA coach Nick Saban said.
Alabama will have its hands full to end the recent streak of Sugar Bowl misery. Clemson enters as the defending national champion and the No. 1 seed in the CFP. Alabama is the No. 4 seed.
Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney was a wide receiver on that 1992 Alabama team that last came out victorious in the Sugar Bowl. He also played in another with Alabama in a loss.
“Really, really excited about going to the Sugar Bowl,” Swinney said. “I actually was with Alabama in ’89, the ’89 Sugar Bowl against Miami as well. We lost that one, but just so excited to come back.”
The Alabama women’s basketball team goes into the holiday with a five-game winning streak. UA hasn’t lost since it fell at TCU on Dec. 1. UA defeated Murray State 68-47 last week to extend the streak.
Alabama (9-3) will host Florida Atlantic (2-9) on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum to close out the pre-conference portion of the schedule. The Crimson Tide will host Missouri on Sunday, Dec. 31, at 2 p.m. to open SEC play.
Alabama is outscoring opponents 68.6-54.7 on average and shooting 39.3 percent while holding opponents to 34.1 percent. UA is outrebounding opponents 43.9-37.3 on average.
Senior forward Ashley Williams is leading Alabama at 11.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Hannah Cook averages 11.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. Ashley Knight, a 6-foot-5 center, is averaging 3.0 blocks per game while pitching in 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Point guard Jordan Lewis averages 2.7 assists per game.
Alabama has gotten steady contributions from transfers Amber Richardson (North Carolina State) and Jasmine Walker (Florida State), who have each played in three games since becoming eligible with the conclusion of the fall semester. They have combined to average 11 points per game.
Solid rankings for men’s basketball
Although the University of Alabama men’s basketball team lost its most recent game to Texas last Friday, the Crimson Tide contains to maintain a solid position in the national RPI ratings.
Alabama (8-4) was No. 25 in Monday’s rankings by Daily RPI and No. 26 per the ESPN RPI, both of which measure performance and strength of schedule. In more predictive measures, Alabama is ranked No. 50 nationally by Ken Pomeroy and No. 57 by the ESPN BPI Index.
Alabama’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 4 nationally by Daily RPI. That number is likely to remain high as the Crimson Tide hosts Texas A&M — ranked No. 5 by the Associated Press and No. 8 by Daily RPI — on December 30.
One area in which Alabama needs to improve before that SEC opener is 3-point shooting. The Crimson Tide is mired in a two-game slump in which it has made just nine of 43 3-point attempts (20.9 percent) against Mercer and Texas. Only two Crimson Tide players — freshman guard John Petty (6-for-17) and freshman forward Alex Reese (3-for-7) have made 3-pointers in the last two games. The rest of the UA roster is 0-for-19 beyond the arc in that stretch. Breaking the slump could be difficult as Texas A&M is fifth in the NCAA in 3-point defense, limiting opponents to just 26.8 percent shooting behind the 3-point line.