In the last couple of weeks of the college basketball season, the noise level rises dramatically as every game, or in some cases, every shot, is analyzed on the basis of whether it puts a team “in” or “out”of the NCAA Tournament.

Alabama head coach Avery Johnson summarized that phenomenon in three words on Friday morning.

“Talk is cheap,” he said.

The Crimson Tide will face Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon, looking to stop a four-game losing streak that has Alabama, according to the bracketologists, clinging to the NCAA bubble rather than occupying a comfortable place in the potential field.

Johnson said he “thinks” Alabama has done enough to make the field thanks to a challenging non-conference schedule and the overall improvement of the SEC. Still, a blowout loss to Florida at home has the Crimson Tide looking for some sort of momentum-reversing performance in Texas.

“We’ve had a lot of Top 25 wins,”he said. “But I think finishing strong can really make our case.

“We’ve been sporadic, inconsistent and up and down. But we’ve proven we can be a good basketball team. We just haven’t done it on a consistent basis.”

Johnson blamed the “down” performance against Florida on an inability to put the ball in the basket in a long stretch of the first half.

“Our offense works better when we make shots,” he said.

In the first meeting between the two teams in late December, Alabama hammered the Aggies 79-57 in Tuscaloosa. Texas A&M was without two starters (DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder) in that game and has increased the role of freshman guard T.J. Starks, who has been the Aggies’ leading scorer (16.8 ppg) over the last seven games.

Injury Update

Alabama freshman Herbert Jones, one of the team’s top defenders, did not practice on Thursday due to what Johnson referred to as “a head injury” he suffered in the first half of the Florida game. Jones took a hard fall after a foul, hit his head on the floor and did not return for the second half.

Johnson did not specify whether Jones was being examined as part of a concussion protocol.

“We’ll see what his availability is today,” Johnson said on Friday. “We’ll let you know (on Saturday) whether he can play.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at or 205-722-0225.