Three predictions for No. 11 Alabama (6-1) in its matchup with South Dakota State (3-4) Saturday night at the Coleman Coliseum (7:30 p.m. CT/SEC Network+).
Alabama will overtake the state of South Dakota by 15 or more
The Crimson Tide’s win over Michigan State on Thanksgiving night at the Phil Knight Invitational marked the first time this season that UA finished a game with a rebound lead (down two) in the red. Before that, Alabama, which ranks second nationally in rebound margin at plus-14, hammered low majors and beat Longwood, Liberty, South Alabama and Jacksonville State by an average of 24.5 boards in wins over the quartet.
South Dakota State enters its Kent State matchup tonight — after sharing games with Valparaiso (win) and James Madison (loss) in Savannah last weekend, SDSU is in Ohio tonight, Tuscaloosa tomorrow and next Tuesday in Missoula, so spare yourself the talk of the potential for lingering effects of jet lag when it comes to UA — tied for 298th among Division I teams in rebound margin.
In a 104-88 loss to UA in Tuscaloosa last season, the Jackrabbits were eliminated with nine rebounds. That was with Baylor Scheiermann Grab a game-high 18 board. Scheierman now plays for Creighton.
In a 71-56 loss at No. 11 Arkansas two weeks ago, SDSU had rebounded 10. Three days later, the deficit was 17 in a 92-83 loss to Stephen F. Austin. Of the Jackrabbits’ 215 boards in seven games, only 35 came on offense, so tomorrow night’s second chance points should also go in Alabama’s favor function.
Something to keep an eye on here is the availability of UA’s second-leading rebounder, freshman forward Noah Cloney, who played just three minutes against North Carolina last Sunday after falling badly early in the competition. Even without Clowney for much of the game — and thanks in no small part to the 16 rebounds it came from Karl Bediako in victory – the Crimson Tide managed to finish plus four on the glass against the Tar Heels.
uA shoots no fewer than 20 free throws
In seven games, the Crimson Tide has attempted no fewer than 20 in one game. Even in a 15-point loss to Connecticut in Portland, UA got on the line 25 times. Led by freshman forward Brandon Millerfour different Alabama players averaged more than three tries per game.
SDSU opponents attempt 14 free throws per game. Prior to today’s visit to the state of Kent, only Stephen F. Austin, who made up 26 tries from 32, had netted more than 16 free throws against the Jackrabbits. In addition to ending the game plus-11 from the line, the Lumberjacks doubled the SDSU in terms of points in the suit, 36-18.
SDSU commits to 20 or more turnovers
When the Jackrabbits lost 79-60 to James Madison on their last timeout, they made 21 turnovers, resulting in 33 points for the Dukes. The performance marked the fifth time this season that the Jackrabbits had committed 20 or more turnovers.
Of her 132 turnovers in seven games, 80 came from steals. Out of 352 Division I teams, SDSU ranks 345th in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Crimson Tide, which checks in on the 266th, is also currently on the wrong side of the ratio. In UA’s only loss to date, 21 turnovers became 23 points for Connecticut, who held a 12-point lead in turnovers.
As the game moves into the second half, this is another area where Alabama’s superior depth should come into play against an opponent largely dependent on six players to offer 21 minutes or more of ground time. UA now gets 18 minutes or more per game from nine different players.
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Contact Travis Reier via personal message or on Twitter (@travisreier).