Alabama at Texas A&M
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m. CT
Where: Reed Arena, College Station, Tex.
Records: Alabama (15-10, 6-6 SEC) Texas A&M (10-14, 3-9 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (95.3 FM locally)
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When the Alabama men’s basketball team lost to Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa in January, it was frustrating. If it happens again in College Station on Tuesday, it could be devastating.
The Aggies upset Alabama 81-80 in the first meeting, erasing an 11-point halftime deficit by scoring 49 second-half points and winning on T.J. Starks’ 25-foot off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Now Alabama has to try for a season split in the series while coming off of back-to-back blowout losses to Mississippi State and Florida. Alabama head coach Avery Johnson, who said Saturday that “everything (was) on the table,” including possible lineup changes, hinted that he might make personnel moves tonight, although he gave no specifics.
“Nothing that I would like to share publicly,” Johnson said.
Texas A&M has also shuffled its lineup in recent games, bringing Starks off the bench and relying more heavily on 6-foot-3 guard Wendell Mitchell, who is averaging 18 points per game over the Aggies’ last five contests.
‘Lucky’ game-winning shot
Alabama players John Petty and Avery Johnson Jr. both used the word “lucky” to describe Starks’ game-winning shot in Tuscaloosa but were quick to say that Alabama was responsible for putting itself in that position.
“You take a 25-footer off one leg and bank it in, you probably don’t make that shot nine times out of 10,” Petty said. “But that’s back on us. We blew the lead and put them in that position.”
“If that was a lucky win, I sure would have liked a lucky win against Florida,” Avery Johnson Sr. noted. “If we do what we need to do on both ends of the court, that’s what’s important.”
Johnson says critics not a distraction
Johnson and several Crimson Tide players have been the subject of intense criticism on social media in the last 48 hours due to the lack of intensity in the Florida loss, but he said Monday that the critics were not a distraction.
“We don’t pay attention to social media because we know it’s just someone out there pushing a button,” Johnson said. “You’re going to have critics. They’re not any more critical of me than I am of myself.
“I’m on social media. It’s not the enemy. You make the tournament and you’re still going to have critics. People in Tennessee are probably criticizing Rick Barnes (after a weekend loss at Kentucky.) How are you going to criticize him with the job he’s done?”
Injured player is back
Alabama forward Herb Jones, who missed a portion of the Florida loss after being poked in the eye, is expected to be 100 percent for tonight’s game per Johnson.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.