Friday , Nov , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Alabama faces Middle Tennessee in Paradise Jam

St. Thomas, VI (Sports Network) – The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are set
to collide with the 10th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide as the Paradise Jam
tips off in the Virgin Islands. The winner and loser of this game will play
the winner and loser of the Toledo/Iowa matchup. Middle Tennessee was crushed
in its season-opener by Tennessee, but that 83-52 setback did not crush
the spirits of the Blue Raiders. In fact, they were able to come back in
their next game and record a 60-47 triumph over Cumberland University. After
this tournament concludes, Middle Tennessee will return home for five
consecutive games at the Murphy Center.

As for Alabama, it has played only one game thus far, and that tilt resulted
in a 96-65 victory over Jackson State. The last regular season tournament
that the Tide competed in was the Great Alaska Shootout in 2004, and the club
reached the championship game of that event. With a pair of stars back from
last season’s team, Alabama is considered one of the top teams in the
talent-packed SEC.

Alabama holds a 5-0 lead in the all-time series with Middle Tennessee,
including an 80-65 win in the most recent meeting back in 2003.

In Middle Tennessee’s 13-point victory over Cumberland University last time
out, Calvin O’Neil scored a team-high 14 points. Theryn Hudson managed 12
points, and Kyle Young contributed 10 points. The Blue Raiders connected on
only 39 percent of their field goal attempts in the clash, and they turned the
ball over 19 times. Fortunately, they were able to hold their obscure opponent
to 35.3 percent shooting from the field while also earning a 36-26 rebounding
advantage. Clearly, Middle Tennessee’s 23-6 edge in points from the foul line
was key. In the ugly loss to Tennessee in the opener, the Blue Raiders
committed 22 turnovers and shot 34.7 percent from the floor, so there is
obviously some problems in need of repair.

Last season, Ronald Steele and Jermareo Davidson were the two best players for
Alabama by the end of the campaign. Steele averaged 14.3 ppg and 4.3 apg as a
sophomore, while Davidson pitched in 14.3 ppg and 8.9 rpg as a junior. In the
opener against Jackson State, Davidson scored 17 points and pulled down 10
boards to go along with six blocked shots. Mykal Riley tallied 17 points off
the bench, and Alonzo Gee contributed 16 points. Steele dished out six assists
against only one turnover, as he proved to be as steady as usual at the point.
The Tide connected on 52.2 percent of its field goal attempts in the clash,
including an 11-of-20 effort from three-point range. On a down note, Alabama
did suffer a 24-12 offensive rebounding disadvantage in a game against an
inferior opponent.