Alabama vs. Arizona
When: Noon, Sunday
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 5-3, Arizona 7-2
Radio: 95.3 FM
The timing may be less than perfect.
The University of Alabama men’s basketball team, 5-3 in nonconference play and riding a two-game losing streak, has to face perhaps its most difficult nonconference opponent Sunday when the Arizona Wildcats come to Coleman Coliseum.
It’s been a tumultuous year since Alabama lost to the Wildcats in Tucson last December. Arizona, which won that game 88-82, does not have 7-foot center DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 choice in the 2018 NBA draft, and returns only one player that saw significant action against the Crimson Tide. Despite offseason headlines concerning Arizona’s connections with the FBI probe into college basketball corruption, Wildcat coach Sean Miller has put together a solid lineup that is 7-2 so far with losses only to top-10 powers Gonzaga and Auburn.
Miller has fashioned that record — which includes wins against Iowa State and UConn — using Brandon Randolph, five-star freshman Brandon Williams and three high-major transfers. That group of transfers includes 6-10 center Chase Jeter (Duke), 6-9 Ryan Luther (Pitt) and a familiar face in 5-10 point guard Justin Coleman, a grad transfer from Samford who spent the first two years of his college career at Alabama.
The immediate concern for Alabama, despite Arizona’s talent, is bouncing back from Tuesday night’s 83-80 loss to Georgia Southern, a game which Alabama led by 22 points with just over 14 minutes to play.
“The finish of that game was very disappointing,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “When you watch it on video, it gets even worse. My head is probably going to explode and I’m not going to get through this press conference if I talk any more about it.”
Johnson did not indicate any lineup changes, saying Alabama has focused on “communication” in this week’s practices.
“The main thing, though, is our intensity,” Johnson said. “When teams turn up their intensity, offensively and defensively, we’ve got to respond — and we didn’t respond.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.