Alabama vs. Penn State
When: 8 p.m. CT
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 7-3, Penn State 6-5
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM


No matter how Friday night’s Penn State basketball game against Alabama at Coleman Coliseum finishes, it won’t be the strangest ending of the week for the Nittany Lions.

That came on Wednesday night when Penn State shot six free throws — a shooting foul plus two technicals on the Duquesne bench — to take a much-needed 73-67 road win that raised its record to 6-5 this season.

“This (PSU) team is so much better than its record, trust me,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said at his Friday preview of the game. “When you beat Virginia Tech, which is one of the top 20 teams in America, and you play teams like North Carolina State, Maryland and Indiana, some of those away from home, that’s tough. So they’re better than their record. Hopefully, we are, too. We’ll have the opportunity to show it. But we can’t have the same mentality that we had for our Christmas getaway game last year, when I didn’t recognize my own team against Texas. If we do, this team will embarrass us.”

Alabama (7-3) is coming off a win against Liberty in which center Donta Hall scored a career-high 21 points. Penn State, however, will present a far more imposing inside defense than the Flames, including 6-foot-8, 235-pound Lamar Stevens and 6-9, 255-pound Mike Watkins. Without using any stereotypes of plodding Big Ten basketball, it would be fair to characterize Penn State as “patient.”

“There are going to be times when we are on defense for 27 seconds of a 30-second shot clock,” Johnson said. “What’s going to happen in the last seven seconds of a possession? Are we going to break down and lose our positioning. Plus, this is a physical rebounding team. We’ve got be physical, can’t complain (when) it’s a man’s game and we’ve got to be better defensively. The defense we played in our last game (Liberty) is not going to be successful this time.”

Johnson noted in his Friday press conference that Alabama will honor the late C.M. Newton during halftime of Friday’s contest. The Hall of Fame head coach led the Crimson Tide program from 1968-1980 and was instrumental in recruiting the first African-American scholarship athlete at UA, Wendell Hudson, in 1968. Several former players and members of the Newton family are expected to attend.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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