Alabama Basketball looks to continue the momentum it established with a win over no. 8 Auburn when it hosts the LSU Tigers for a Saturday night SEC showdown.
Bama has won seven of its last eight games and currently sits atop the SEC standings with a 5-1 conference record and the head-to-head win over Auburn. Ideally, the Tide will secure this win in Coleman Coliseum before it goes on the road for three of its next four games.
Alabama Basketball: Individual improvements fueling Tide’s success
Bama Hoops has benefitted from the improvements of sophomore wing Rylan Griffen and senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. in recent weeks.
Wrightsell Jr., a transfer addition from Cal State Fullerton, took some time to get acclimated to his new team and setting. After failing to reach double-figures in his first 12 games in an Alabama jersey, he has seemingly figured it out, hitting double-figures in five of the last seven games.
Wrightsell Jr. is still working on becoming a consistent performer, as the other two games in that stretch saw him total just five points on 1-8 from the field. Still, he has flashed the scoring ability that made him one of the top players in the Big West last season.
Alabama Basketball tends to live and die by the three-point shot, and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. has given it the additional perimeter shooter it was lacking. He has hit at least three triples in all five of his double-figure outings, including games against Liberty and Mississippi State that saw him reach season-highs of 19 points and five treys apiece. For the season, he has hit three or more three-pointers in seven games (including six of the last eight), and is hitting at a 45 percent clip.
Latrell Wrightsell Jr. first 11 games: 5.4 PPG, 13-33 3PT FG (39.4%)
Latrell Wrightsell Jr. last eight games: 11.0 PPG, 24-49 3PT FG (49.0%)
Similarly, Rylan Griffen has really progressed for Alabama Basketball. As a true freshman last year, Griffen showed flashes of potential, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. He reportedly showed dramatic improvement in the offseason, and was widely expected to be a breakout player this year.
Like Wrightsell Jr., Rylan Griffen got out to a slow start before finding his footing. He scored double figures just twice in his first 11 games and never hit more than two three-pointers over that period. In the last eight games, he has reached double-figures six times and has hit a career-high five triples on three different occasions.
Rylan Griffen first 11 games: 7.4 PPG, 12-35 3PT FG (34.3%)
Rylan Griffen last eight games: 14 PPG, 19-46 3PT FG (41.3%)
The stark shooting uptick from Griffen and Wrightsell Jr. has directly correlated with the success of Alabama Basketball. Bama has continued to win despite slumps from Grant Nelson and Aaron Estrada, two of its best players. It is only a matter of time before these two impact transfers find their groove.
If Alabama Basketball can continue to get production from Rylan Griffen and Latrell Wrightsell Jr., it could make a run at another SEC title.