Many members of the University of Alabama men’s basketball team is familiar with Stephen F. Austin already, having traveled to Texas to face the Lumberjacks last season.
The Crimson Tide could have a lot more personal contact with the Lumberjacks this time around and will also note that Stephen F. Austin has a new media name for the current season: “Stephen F. Austin, the team that won at Duke.”
The Lumberjacks (7-1) won at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 26, an 85-83 overtime victory that snapped Duke’s 150-game winning streak at home against non-conference opposition.
“I know what type of team they are,” Alabama guard John Petty Jr., said on Thursday. “We’ve played them for two years (including this Friday’s game) and I watched some of the Duke game while we were in the Bahamas. I know what kind of energy they bring.”
Alabama vs. Stephen F. Austin
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 3-4, Stephen F. Austin 7-1
TV: SEC Network Plus
Radio: 95.3 FM
Alabama coach Nate Oats said the Crimson Tide has to be prepared for aggressive full-court pressure.
“They are really active defensively,” Oats said. “They play 10 or 11 guys and I don’t think they care if they commit 30 fouls because that’s just three fouls each and sooner or later the officials are going to get tired of blowing the whistle.
“Kyle (Keller of SFA) is a good coach who gets his kids to play really hard. They turn people over. We know we’re going to get fouled and we have to step up and make free throws. Duke shot 40 free throws against them but missed 14 and that made a difference.”
In order to imitate the Lumberjacks’ frenetic defense, Alabama used six defenders in several drills at its Thursday practice.
“We put a free safety out there,” Oats joked.
Alabama has also had lingering injury issues which have affected practice time on a team with an already-thin roster. Those include Alex Reese, who has not practiced this week due to a door injury and was in a boot at Thursday’s practice.
“Alex is a pretty tough kid,” Oats said, “My guess is he’ll give it a go and we’ll see how healthy he is during the game.
“Beetle (Bolden) has two different injuries in the same wrist,” Oats said. “He took a numbing agent (shot) in the Bahamas and was able to play so hopefully he can do same tomorrow. Even when he is not making shots (Bolden has six 3-pointers in Alabama’s win over Southern Miss), you see his energy out there.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt