HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Tide) — Alabama will take on Arkansas State in the first annual Rocket City Classic, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 21, in Huntsville, Ala., at the Von Braun Center.
Alabama will play in Huntsville for just the second time in program history. The only other time the Tide has played a game in the Rocket City came just over 17 years ago on Dec. 18, 1999, when Alabama captured a 75-51 victory over Chattanooga.
The Crimson Tide is coming off a 67-54 loss to Clemson last Sunday in the BBVA Compass Vulcan Classic last Sunday, which was held Birmingham, Ala., at Legacy Arena. It marked Alabama’s third loss over its last four games.
Wednesday's game will be televised on SEC Network with Doug Bell (play-by-play) and Tony Delk (analyst) on the call. Fans can listen to the radio broadcast on the Crimson Tide Sports Network as Chris Stewart (play-by-play) and Bryan Passink (analyst) will call all the action. Live stats for the contest can accessed through RollTide.com, while in-game updates and photos will be made available on Twitter on @AlabamaMBB.
HOW TO WATCH
RADIO: Crimson Tide Sports Network
TV: SEC Network
LIVE STATS: http://statb.us/b/156692
SOCIAL MEDIA: @AlabamaMBB
COACH AVERY JOHNSON QUOTES ON ARKANSAS STATE GAME
On how game preparations are going:
“It’s strictly business right now. We are playing against a really good Arkansas State team that will present a lot of problems for us. We have to do a good job of playing to our strengths and keep them away from their strengths. They can flat out play. They are fast, they get up and down the court, they are well-coached and can really shoot the three. It’s pretty scary watching on film and it’s easy to see why the won at Georgetown and had some of the other big wins and record that they have.”
On team’s leadership since the Clemson game:
“I’ve seen a significant change. Dazon Ingram has demonstrated the best leadership he’s shown since he’s been a part of our team. He’s been more vocal, along with Avery Jr. and Braxton Key. Those guys have been talking to each other and talking to their teammates on the floor. It was fun to watch and it’s better late than never.”
On team’s offensive struggles and has it improved over last couple of practices:
“I’ve seen improvement on our pace, shot selection, the way we set screens and move on the ball. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a game where a team goes 16-of-50 from the field and 3-of-21 from the three-point line. That puts a lot of pressure on our defense. Our defense has been competitive.”
On what his expectations are on the environment in Huntsville:
“I’ve heard we are only about 500 tickets away from a sellout. I hope we can impress on our fans to come out and support us. We want the arena filled tomorrow night. I want to hear “Roll Tide” and “Buckle Up” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Hopefully we will sell out those remaining tickets and make this Rocket City Classic something special.”
On the health of guard Corban Collins and guard/forward Nick King:
“Corban had an MRI which was negative so he is officially listed as day-to-day. He will be out for tomorrow night and then will be day-to-day. Nick King will be re-evaluated after our break.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Arkansas State and Alabama will meet for the second time in program history. The only other meeting came on Dec. 11, 1969 (UA won, 93-79).
• Alabama is a perfect 5-0 when holding teams to fewer than 62 points, but falls to 0-5 when allowing the opposition to score more than 62.
• The Tide does not have a single player averaging in double figures, however, eight Alabama players average 6.0 or more points per contest.
• The Crimson Tide comes into Sunday's game holding opponents to 62.6 points per game. That number ranks second in the SEC and 31st nationally (as of Dec. 20).
• The Alabama bench has been outscored by its counterparts just once in its 10 games this year, which came in the season opener vs. Coastal Carolina. For the year, the Crimson Tide reserves is outscoring the opposition's bench by an average of 14.4 points a game (31.6-17.2).
• Alabama has played only one true home game during the month of December (defeated USC Upstate, 78-61, on Dec. 15). The Tide will play just two games in Coleman Coliseum this month, with the other contest coming on Dec. 29 vs. Stetson.
• Alabama will have an eight-day break between games following Wednesday night's contest. The Tide will return to action when it closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule on Dec. 29 vs. Stetson.
SCOUTING ARKANSAS STATE
• Head Coach Grant McCasland is in his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves. Off to a 9-2 start, McCasland has the best start of any Arkansas State head coach in program history. McCasland compiled a record of 199-45 (.816) in stops at Midland College (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2).
• The Red Wolves rank second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.263). Additionally, Arkansas State ranks 24th in 3-point field goal percentage (.406) and 32nd in field-goal percentage (.489).
• The Red Wolves current five-game road trip is the longest for an A-State team since the 1989-90 season. The 1989-90 squad traveled to Louisiana Tech, New Orleans, Louisana-Lafayette, Lamar and UT Rio Grande Valley for five-straight conference games. The last time A-State played five or more games in a row away from home was the first seven games of the 2010-11 season.
• Arkansas State ranks as one of the top teams in the nation defending the three-point line. The Red Wolves come into their game vs. Alabama allowing the opposition to shoot just 26.3 percent from deep. In fact, eight of the 10 opponents thus far have shot 28 percent or less from 3-point range against Arkansas State. SIUE (Nov. 22) and TCU (Dec. 3) are the only exception as the Cougars were 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) and Hornded Frogs were 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) beyond the arc.
• ARKANSAS STATE PROBABLE STARTERS (based off previous game): Guards: Devin Carter (17.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .443 3FG%), C.J. Foster 7.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Rashad Lindsey (9.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg,.429 3FG%), Donte Thomas (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 7.1 apg). Forward: Nelson Nweke (2.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
• Alabama will head to Huntsville, Ala., to take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves in the Rocket City Classic on Wednesday night. It marks the first year of the event. The Crimson Tide enters the game having lost three of the last four games, most recently falling to Clemson, 67-54, last Sunday in Birmingham, Ala., at the Vulcan Classic.
• Alabama does not have a player averaging double figures through its 10 games on the season, but boast eight guys who contribute six or more points per game. The Tide's top two scorers are both freshmen, led by forward Braxton Key at 9.5 points per game. Guard Dazon Ingram adds 9.0 points per contest as the duo are the only two players to average more than nine points a game for the Tide.
• Ingram also leads the team in assists (4.0 apg), steals (1.2 spg) and minutes (26.4). Meanwhile, Key is second on the squad in rebounding (4.4 rpg) and assists (1.9 apg).
• Sophomore center Donta Hall tops the team in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and field goal percentage (.667), while ranking second in blocks (1.5 bpg). Graduate senior Corban Collins is the team's top three-point shooter (.395) and ranks third in scoring at 8.4 ppg.
• As a team, Alabama is outscoring the competition by 4.3 points per game (67.3-63.0) and outrebounding opponents by 2.9 rebounds per game (35.9-33.0). The Tide is shooting .428 from the field and .317 from beyond the arc as a team.
COMMUNITY WORK IN THE ROCKET CITY
• In addition to playing in the Rocket City Classic against Arkansas State, the Crimson Tide spent some extra time in the city of Huntsville doing work in the community.
• On Monday, the Crimson Tide arrivedin town and participated in “Liftoff Day” for the Rocket City Classic. Following a welcome reception, the Tide student-athletes, coaches and staff joined the children and staff from the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama for a tour of the Space & Rocket Center. Once the tour concluded, the team took a group photo with the children, as well as autographed posters for the entire group.
• On Tuesday, members of the team spent time at the Boys & Girls Club where they played games and interacted with the kids.
NEWCOMERS MAKING AN IMPACT
• Including Dazon Ingram who is a redshirt freshman, the Crimson Tide welcomed seven newcomers who are currently playing in Avery Johnson's 10-man rotation to begin the season
• The team's top four scorers and five of the top seven were either redshirts or were not on the team a year ago.
• The seven newcomers are combining to average 45.1 of Alabama's 67.3 points per game – approximately 67 percent of the team's total scoring output.
• The group is also dishing out 78 percent of the Tide's assists (89 of the team's 118 total assists) and pulling down 53 percent of the team's boards (18.8 of UA's 35.9 total rebounding average).
• The Alabama bench has been a weapon through the Tide's opening nine contests, highlighted by the reserves scoring 59 of the team's 77 points in a 77-59 win over Ball State on Nov. 18.
• The 59 points scored by the bench marked the most scored by any Tide reserve group this century. In fact, it was the most points scored by Alabama's reserves since going for 59 points in a 95-48 victory over Florida A&M on Dec. 17, 1994.
• Alabama's bench outscored Charleston Southern's reserves, 46-20. The Tide bench has only been outscored by its counterparts in just one of its 10 games this season.
• The Tide's back-ups have not been outscored in nine consecutive games and only been outscored once on the year (season opener vs. Coastal Carolina).
• For the year, Alabama's reserves has outscored its counterpart by a total margin of 316-172. That averages out to +14.4 points per game (31.6-17.2).
For all the latest information on the team, follow AlabamaMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can be found @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.