Before the world turns its attention to Alabama versus Georgia in college football’s national championship game in Atlanta on Monday night, Avery Johnson has business with the Bulldogs on Saturday.
That’s when the Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball team tries once more to earn its first road victory of the 2017-18 season against a Georgia team that is 7-0 on its home floor this season. Tipoff is 11 a.m. CT on the SEC Network.
Alabama vs. Georgia
When: 11 a.m. CT
Where: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.
Records: Alabama 9-5 (1-1 SEC), Georgia 10-3 (1-1 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
Alabama has played just two road games, losing close decisions at Arizona (88-84) and, most recently, last Tuesday at Vanderbilt, where UA rallied in the final minute but lost 76-75.
“We didn’t play defense well enough in the first half (against Vanderbilt) to win a game in the Southeastern Conference, home or away,” Johnson said Friday.
Alabama gave up 43 first-half points and trailed by 15 points, 48-33, before rallying to cut the final deficit to one point. The Crimson Tide used a pressure defense in the final minute, a tactic that Johnson did not rule out in future games.
“I think we have the ability to do (full-court pressure),” Johnson said. “We have the depth. We have the length and athleticism. But you have to be committed to it, and you have to not get rattled if you give up an easy basket.”
The strategy against Georgia may involve Alabama playing bigger, not faster. The Bulldogs have a strong inside game led by 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward Yante Maten. The senior averages a near double-double (19.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and will present a major challenge for the Alabama defense.
“I don’t think you guard him with one person all night,” Johnson said. “I think you use different looks and different defenders. I think we could use three or four different players at different times.”
Johnson also said that Alabama may use sophomore Braxton Key at the small forward position at times, allowing Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens to be on the floor simultaneously.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.