South Carolina at Alabama
Where: Coleman Coliseum
When: 7:30 p.m. CT, Saturday
Records: Alabama (15-13, 7-8 SEC); South Carolina (17-11, 9-6 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
The University of Alabama basketball team is so accustomed to be playing short-handed at this point that listing the available, full-strength players is easier than reviewing the injury list.
That’s likely to continue on Saturday night as junior John Petty, who ranks in the Top 12 in the SEC in both scoring and rebounding, will sit out against South Carolina barring “a miraculous recovery,” according to Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats.
Petty suffered what Oats described as a hyperextension of his shooting elbow in the first half of Alabama’s Tuesday night loss at Mississippi State and has had no live practice activity since.
“He’s getting better every day,” Oats said at his Friday press conference. “He’s had two good days of therapy. We’ll just evaluate day-to-day. (He’s) highly unlikely for tomorrow, though. Unless there’s a miraculous recovery overnight, I don’t think he’s playing tomorrow.”
Oats said Alabama’s injury problems have been frustrating but in some ways unavoidable.
“If guys don’t play hard, you’re not going to win anyway,” Oats said. “JP got injured diving on the floor for a loose ball. What are you going to tell them, don’t go for loose balls? Later in the game, Beetle (Bolden) dove on the floor for a loose ball and we got a three-point play out of it. So our mentality still is pretty good.”
Oats said that without Petty, and with Herb Jones still limited offensively with his wrist in his cast, other players will have to step up offensively.
“We’ve got two guys who can be kind of an X-factor,” he said. “Beetle (Bolden) has been really good in the first half in the last few games but he still gets worn down. (Junior forward Alex) Reese is more than capable. He’s shown that in the scoring column before. So we need those two to give us a lift.”
South Carolina comes in with a 9-6 SEC record that includes road wins at Arkansas, Texas A&M and Georgia. Freshman wing Jermaine Cousianard averages 15.3 points per game against SEC competition, but unlike Oats, Gamecock coach Frank Martin has a deep bench at his disposal, including 270-pound center Malik Kotsar and 260-pound freshman forward Alanzo Frink.
Oats and assistant coach Antoine Pettway were on the recruiting trail on Friday morning, watching the AHSAA Class 2A boys championship game in Birmingham.
Junior guard J.D. Davidson, a five-star prospect, led Calhoun to the state title, scoring 32 points in a 64-61 win over Barbour County, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining. Coaches from Auburn and Memphis were among several other college coaches in attendance.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter, @cecilhurt