Game Preview: No. 9 Alabama vs No. 14 Houston
When: Saturday, December 11 at 10:00 pm ET on ESPN2
Location: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, AL
Coming off one of the best wins in recent program history, Alabama returns home to face yet another Final Four opponent from last season.
The No. 9 ranked Crimson Tide return home for their first home game in three weeks coming off an impressive 91-82 win in the Battle in Seattle over then No. 3 ranked Gonzaga. A game in which Alabama led for a majority, the Crimson Tide took a 51-35 lead into the half, and were led by guard Jaden Shackelford who had a game-high 28 points.
The Crimson Tide come into this contest with a 7-1 record on the year, and are averaging a phenomenal 86.4 PPG offensively, as well as allowing 71 PPG to opponents. Led by the previously mentioned Shackelford, Alabama also has two others averaging in double-figures in Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis, as well as freshman guard JD Davison coming off arguably the best game of his collegiate career vs Gonzaga (20 points, 4/6 from three).
Houston on the other hand comes to Tuscaloosa having won four in a row, including a dominant 77-45 win over Alcorn State on Monday. The Cougars fourth consecutive win by 20+ points, Houston never trailed in the contest, while also shooting a combined 47.4% from the field.
The Cougars are currently ranked as the No. 14 team in the country at 8-1 overall, and are averaging 80.8 PPG, as well as only allowing 53.4 PPG to opponents. Rated as the No. 2 team in the country in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, the Cougars are led by leading scorer Marcus Sasser (17.7 PPG), as well as a deep roster headlined by others such as Kyler Edwards, Tramon Mark, and Fabian White Jr.
In what will be arguably Houston’s toughest test yet this season, this game will also provide many challenges for Alabama as the Cougars have multiple experienced impact guards. This game will likely be close throughout, but the home court advantage for the Crimson Tide could prove to be the big deciding factor in the end.
Prediction: Alabama 76, Houston 70