Alabama women’s basketball is back in the win column. UA broke its five-game losing streak by piecing together one of its best all-around performances of the season against Tennessee, defeating the Lady Vols for the second-straight time, and the fourth time in program history.
Ball security was a huge reason Alabama was successful. Crimson Tide coach Kristy Curry has stressed that limiting turnovers to under 13 per game is crucial in conference play. On Thursday, she was spot-on. Alabama turned the ball over just 10 times against Tennessee, and no player had more than two turnovers for the game.
Shelton State transfer Coco Knight had her best game at Alabama, while leading the way to the upset win. The junior guard used 25 minutes to score 16 points, grab eight rebounds and dish three assists. Knight’s standout performance set career-highs in minutes, points, assists and rebounds.
The 5-foot-7 Knight trailed only juniors Hannah Cook and Ashley Williams in rebounds against the Lady Vols, and despite her small stature she was able to generate second-chance points by grabbing four rebounds on the offensive end.
“The coaches kept telling us to go to the (glass), and that’s what I did,” Alabama guard Knight said. “As a team we had 22 (offensive rebounds), and I think that’s the highest we’ve had in a while.”
Teams that finish in the top 10 of the Southeastern Conference standings will get a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament that begins March, 1. Alabama starts the final week of the regular season ranked eleventh in the conference with three games left to play.
— Drew Hill
New season marks new careers
The start of the Greg Goff era for the University of Alabama baseball team (2-1) was also the start of several new players’ careers. Nine players made their UA debut over the weekend, including three of the five relievers used in Alabama’s series win over Presbyterian.
Freshman Sonny Potter pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday and redshirt freshman Davis Vainer needed just seven pitches to work through the ninth inning on Sunday. Junior college transfer Garrett Suchey pitched three innings on Sunday, giving up two runs.
There will likely be more newcomers on against Southern Miss. The game, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been moved to 6 p.m. on Wednesday due to threat of rain.
“I definitely think you’ll see some guys throw that haven’t thrown yet,” head coach Greg Goff said. “We’re still trying to decide who we’re going to lock in and throw and our bullpen. When you have a bunch of new guys, in a first year, I’ve never seen these guys play a game. For me, we’ll kind of get our feet wet as we go.”
Sophomore righty Brock Love is expected to pitch at some point Wednesday, but some freshmen are still awaiting their turn. Freshman lefthander Garret Rukes hasn’t pitched yet, nor has righty Deacon Medders.
— Ben Jones
Transfer sees more playing time
In late January, there was reason to wonder if Ar’Mond Davis was going to have a role for the University of Alabama men’s basketball this season. Davis, a junior college transfer from Tacoma, Washington — about as far as one can get from Tuscaloosa and still remain on the continental United States — was far down the Alabama bench. He played just two two minutes against Georgia and didn’t play at all in a home win against Mississippi State.
Then improvement met opportunity. Davis started to see a slight increase in playing time. Then, with the Crimson Tide in foul trouble and fighting to hang on in a four-overtime win at South Carolina, Davis came off the bench to play 38 minutes and score a career-high 19 points. Last Saturday, he added a 16-point performance against LSU.
Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson said it was part of a season-long maturation for Davis that was not unusual for a junior college transfer.
“I think sometimes when a junior college kid enrolls at a Division I school, especially in a Power Five conference, the immediate thinking is that he really is a junior,” Johnson said after the Crimson Tide victory over LSU. “I disagree with that.
“With some juco kids, it takes a while to understand the entire process — school life at a Power Five (college), the way we travel, the way we practice. Especially when you’re playing for me, that’s not an easy thing to do.
“So there were a lot of growing pains for a long time. But I would say that about three weeks ago, we started to see some progress in the way he practiced, in the maturity level, and we started to get a little more confidence to play him a little more in games.”
Johnson said he was still advising Davis on various matters, on the court and on social media as well.
“In the last game (at Missouri), he didn’t feel well. So he tweeted about it. I told him that probably wasn’t a good thing to tweet about because you don’t to send people thinking that you’re making excuses about going 0-for-4 from the 3-point line.
“He’s a a kid I get after every day (at practice.) He and A.J. (Avery Johnson, Jr.) have some tough skin, because they get it a lot. But he’s responded.”
— Cecil Hurt
Gymnastics improves score before postseason
It’s time to shake things up in the college gymnastics world.
Since most teams have now completed in at least six meets, rankings are determined by regional qualifying score (RQS). This takes a team’s top six scores (three of which have to be from away meets), drops the highest and then averages out the remaining five.
The University of Alabama is No. 4 with a 197.085 RQS. Oklahoma (197.89), LSU (197.655) and Florida (197.435) go down in order for the top three. Those are the only four programs in the nation with a 197-plus RQS.
Without the RQS, the Crimson Tide would have remained No. 6 with an overall average of 196.803. Scores dropped this week for Alabama included the Arkansas meet (195.325), the Elevate the Stage meet (195.85) and the Florida meet (197.825).
All of this is meant to give a more consistent representation of each team’s abilities before postseason.
On Monday, Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said Aja Sims is fine after being pulled from the lineup last Friday. While warming up, Sims fell off the uneven bars, took a hit to the head and underwent concussion protocol.
The senior is tied for 10th on the floor exercise with a 9.895 RQS. She also has a season-high 9.975 and is the Crimson Tide’s anchor performer.
Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin will be at Coleman Coliseum on Friday for Alabama’s meet against No. 12 Boise State. She was a member of the 2008 U.S. women’s gymnastics team that took home the team silver from Bejing, China.
— Terrin Waack