No. 15 Ranked Alabama Hoops Quietly Rolling

As the entire state of Alabama was hanging on the edge of their seats as the Oklahoma State-Iowa State game was approaching the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, the crawl at the bottom of the screen on ESPN showed the score of the Alabama-Wichita State basketball game from Puerto Rico.  Alabama's name flashed to represent that they had won. The final score was 70-60 and it improved the 'Tide to 4-0 on the young season.

Alabama fans around the South could be heard speaking in unison saying, "Hey, look at that.  We beat Wichita State.  I heard we could be pretty good this ye..... OH MY GOSH IOWA STATE HAS TIED THE GAME!!!!! ROLL TIDE!!!!!"

I did the exact same thing from my home in Springfield, Tennessee. It's symbolic of the shadow that Alabama hoops walks in.  The shadow's not quite as big from mid-February to parts of March, but in November and December the shadow cast by Bryant-Denny Stadium keeps Coleman Coliseum's thermostat registering near sub-zero temps.

[caption id="attachment_308" align="alignright" width="300" caption=""I'll take DUNKS THAT MAKE DEFENDERS LOOK STUPID, Alex.""][/caption]

What Alabama basketball lacks in light and temperature this time of year, junior forward Tony Mitchell more than makes up for on the Richter Scale. That was not an earthquake you felt in SEC Country when Iowa State scored to tie the game. It was an aftershock from one of Tony Mitchell's earth-rattling dunks from Puerto Rico.

Mitchell scored 26 points and sophomore point guard Trevor Releford added 15 in the win.  Eleven of Releford's points came on free throws as he finished the night 11-of-12 from the line.  It's that type of play that the 'Tide will need if they want to win on the road in the SEC in January, February, and March.

Winning at home has not been an issue.  Alabama currently has a 21-game winning streak at Coleman Coliseum.

The 'Tide finished 19-0 in Tuscaloosa last season, but the conference road woes and early-season disastrous loss to St. Peter's led to the NCAA Selection Committee omitting 'Bama from the NCAA Tournament in spite of the SEC Western Division championship.

The reason for Alabama's tournament snubbing can be traced back to Saturday, February 26th, 2011 when Alabama lost at Ole Miss, 68-52.  The 'Tide went on to get severely outplayed by a superior Florida team in the second to last game of the regular season, losing 78-51. Following wins over Georgia in back-to-back weeks -- one in Tuscaloosa and one the following week in the SEC Tournament -- Alabama played Kentucky and was once again severely outmanned in a 72-58 loss.

Alabama seemed to fall flat on their face last season when given an opportunity to show the nation that they were the real deal and more than just a home team.

Anthony Grant's 2011-2012 team is the most talented he's had since being in Tuscaloosa. Every guy on an Anthony Grant coached team will play great defense.

Freshman forward Nick Jacobs (6-8, 250) came off the bench for the first time in the second half of tonight's victory over Wichita State and had five blocks to go along with four points in nine minutes of playing time.

This team will go as far as its defense will take them.  Although the offense shot a subpar 43 percent from the field, the defense held Wichita State to 33.8 percent from the field.

We will go ahead and say that this team will have a better showing in the final five games of the season and win the West.  They will also get in to the Big Dance.

How far 'Bama goes in the 'dance will be predicated on the great guard play of Trevor Releford and whether or not they have a big guy that can take over under the basket when needed.  SEE: Jorts, AKA Josh Harrellson, in 2011 NCAA Tournament Final Four run with Kentucky.

Well, better go.  They're talking BCS and whether Alabama is the best one-loss team on SportsCenter.

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