State of Alabama basketball update: Tide low, Auburn lower, UAB on a roll

hunter fordAlabama’s hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid took a slam dunk to the face when it lost to Florida last night.

At 13-7 and 3-4 in the SEC, Coach Anthony Grant’s Tide will have to step it up a few notches to get back in the mix for a post season bid of any kind.  The bad news is its next game is Saturday against Kentucky, in Lexington.

Winning against the Wildcats on the road is an absurd notion for a Grant squad.  The Tide will have to avoid being embarrassed to the point of no return before more manageable games arrive on the schedule.

After the Kentucky game, Alabama will return home to face a Missouri team on the lower rungs of the SEC standings.  After Mizzou, Alabama will play back-to-back road games against a good LSU team and a mediocre Mississippi State.  After that, Vanderbilt comes to Tuscaloosa.

It will be crucial for Alabama to win its next two home games and at least split the road matches with LSU and Mississippi State.

Alabama dropped into the lower half of the SEC standings with the loss to the Gators.  Kentucky is leading the pack at 6-0 while Arkansas, Georgia and Texas A&M have five conference wins.  LSU, Tennessee, and Florida are ahead of Alabama with four conference wins.

The good news is there is still a fairly narrow gap between the Tide and other SEC teams not named Wildcats.

AUBURN

Auburn followed a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa with an equally frustrating 10-point defeat by Texas A&M at Auburn Arena.  Now at 10-10 overall and 2-5 in the SEC, Bruce Pearl has to take his dog and pony show back to Knoxville to face his former employer.

Following his cook-out with the Volunteers, Pearl’s Tigers will face LSU on the road and Ole Miss at home.  The general consensus on Pearl is that his best days at Auburn are ahead of him, meaning future seasons.  Auburn is playing scrappy enough to break even this year.  Alabama’s trip to Auburn later this season will be a pivotal wrestling match for the hearts and minds of recruits.

UAB

You can call the Blazers “butter” because they are on a roll.  UAB is on a three-game winning streak and is 6-1 in Conference USA after a poor nonconference showing to start the season.

The Blazers took down Old Dominion 81-68 while shooting 70 percent from the field, 71 percent from three-point range, and 92 percent from the free throw line.

Coach Jerod Haase recently received a two-year extension on his contract, and his recent coaching efforts seem to warrant that.  If he keeps up the good job it might be easier to remember how to spell and pronounce his name.

Again, the bad news for Haase and UAB is the watered-down C-USA it is playing in.  Western Kentucky leads C-USA at 7-0, and Louisiana Tech, which beat UAB, is 6-1.

A regular season conference championship or conference tournament championship will likely be a prerequisite for an NCAA Tournament invite for any C-USA team.  The conference tournament is in Birmingham this year, which could help UAB.

The Blazers, 10-10 overall, can rise above .500 if they can defeat UTEP, 12-7, 4-3, on the road tomorrow night.

OTHER STATE TEAMS

The Alabama State Hornets may end up being the lone team from Alabama to go to the Big Dance.  ASU is 7-0 in SWAC play.  The Hornets have qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times in the past two decades but have never advanced past the first round.

The Samford Bulldogs are 9-14 overall and 2-8 in conference play.

Troy and South Alabama are trudging through the Sun Belt with little success.  Troy is 7-11, and 2-7, while USA is 6-12 and 4-5.

Birmingham Southern is 11-6, 3-3 in conference play, at the NAIA level.