Alabama (10-15) at Texas A&M (14-11)

The Sports NetworkFebruary 20, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The Alabama Crimson Tide will try for their first road victory of the season on Thursday night when they venture to Reed Arena to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in an SEC clash.

Alabama fell on the wrong end of a tight 67-66 battle at South Carolina on Saturday to remain winless on the road in eight tries this season. The Tide are currently losers of five of their last six contests to slip to just 10-15 overall and 4-8 in the SEC.

Texas A&M had won two of its previous three contests prior to its Saturday afternoon bout at Vanderbilt, which it dropped in overtime, 57-54, to regress to 14-11 and 5-7 in league action. The good news for the Aggies in this one is that most of their success has come at Reed Arena, winning 13 of 15 on their home floor.

The teams met for the first time as SEC foes last season, with Alabama claiming a narrow 50-49 victory to improve to 7-3 in the all-time series.

Although the Tide trailed by double digits early in the second half of their most recent contest, they battled all the way back to hold a lead in the final two minutes only to cough up that advantage down the stretch to suffer the heartbreaking one-point setback. They shot only 41.9 percent from the field while allowing the Gamecocks to net nearly 49 percent of their tries from the floor. Trevor Releford did his best to lift the team to victory with 27 points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Rodney Cooper and Shannon Hale both poured in 11 points.

Despite Alabama's disappointing record this season, it still boasts a +0.7 scoring margin, even though its offensive attack (.443 FG percentage, 68.6 ppg) hardly strikes fear in anyone. Releford has stepped up his game this season to become one of the nation's premiere guards, shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 40.1 percent from beyond the arc and 90.5 percent at the foul line for 19.0 ppg, while adding 2.2 spg on the other end of the floor. Retin Obasohan (10.4 ppg) is also a strong defender with 49 steals and 28 blocks, while Cooper, Nick Jacobs and Levi Randolph all put up between 8.0 and 8.4 ppg.

The Aggies never trailed in regulation and were up by 11 with under six minutes to go before Vanderbilt climbed all the way back to tie the game with four seconds left, and after falling behind early in the extra session they could never recover. While they shot an impressive 9-of-19 from 3-point range in the loss, they made only 36.7 percent of their field goals overall, shot a mere 9-of-20 from the free-throw line and committed a game-high 16 turnovers. Jamal Jones tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds but also turned the ball over seven times. Kourtney Roberson added 11 points, four steals and two blocks.

Texas A&M has been able to remain competitive this season thanks to its stout defense, which ranks behind only Florida in the SEC in allowing just 62.9 ppg. Unfortunately, its offensive attack has been barely good enough to support it, as it shoots just 42.9 percent from the field for 65.2 ppg. Jones is the team's leading scorer at 12.5 ppg, and that number has jumped up to 15.6 ppg in conference action, although he oftentimes hurts more than he helps with a poor field-goal percentage (.370). Roberson is an anchor in the paint with 9.8 ppg and 6.9 rpg, while Alex Caruso (8.0 ppg) hands out 4.6 apg.

With Alabama's prolonged struggles on the road, expect it to have a hard time putting points on the board against the stout Aggies who have performed well in College Station.

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