January 11, 2011 8:57:00 AM
The University of Alabama men''s basketball team won its matchup in the post against Mississippi State on Saturday, but it will face a tougher test at 8 p.m. Wednesday (CSS) when it takes on Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Sam Muldrow and the University of South Carolina at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The senior forward earned the second triple-double in school history with 16 points, 14 rebound, and a school-record 10 blocked shots Saturday in a win against then No. 22 Vanderbilt.
Muldrow has scored in double figures in six of South Carolina''s past eight games, including three double-doubles in the team''s past four games.
"I''ve been very impressed with Sam," said Alabama coach Anthony Grant, whose team is 9-6 and 1-0 in the SEC. "He was very effective in both games we played against them (last season). He brings a dimension very few guys have in terms of being able to offensively stretch the defense with his ability to shoot the three and play inside, but also on the defensive end with his ability to change the game with his energy and shot-blocking."
Getting the 6-foot-9 senior to play with the energy and intensity he displayed last weekend will be a challenge for coach Darrin Horn.
"Even last year when Devan Downey was putting on a one-man highlight show in terms of the scoring, when Sam Muldrow played well we were a better basketball team and were able to win," Horn said. "When Sam plays with that demeanor and approach, the numbers follow. That doesn''t mean he''s greedy on the low block or scoring the basketball in any particular way, it''s when he comes out with a certain mind-set (that) he''s going to be active and impact with his energy and activity and length, he plays better. Saturday was a result of the mentality and approach."
Alabama''s JaMychal Green scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds Saturday at MSU and helped hold Renardo Sidney to two points.
Green has scored 14 points or more in seven straight games, but his defense has shown in the stat box. The junior is averaging three blocked shots and two steals in the past four games.
Aware of his limited depth behind Green and fellow forward Chris Hines, Grant said his team isn''t worried about individual matchups against South Carolina.
Point guard Bruce Ellington, the SEC Freshman of the Week, also will present a matchup problem for the Crimson Tide. He averaged 17.5 points in wins against South Carolina State and Vanderbilt.
Calipari weighs in on Kanter critics
University of Kentucky coach John Calipari knew Enes Kanter earned money while playing professionally in Turkey.
The NCAA knew, too. The only caveat was how much Kanter earned qualified him to remain an amateur player.
The NCAA, which was tested in recent cases involving Mississippi State men''s basketball player Renardo Sidney and Auburn University football player Cam Newton, ruled Kanter permanently ineligible in the fall and denied Kentucky''s appeal Jan. 7.
Calipari, fresh off an upset loss at the University of Georgia, isn''t as worried about playing without the 6-foot-11 forward this season than he is about Kanter.
"This has been a shock to he and his family," Calipari said. "Then seeing everything that was going around. You know, it''s funny. When I heard somebody say it was black and white -- wow. Took eight months for black and white? Wow. That''s kind of a surprising statement, so I''m just worried about him."
Kanter will serve as a student assistant and remain on scholarship this season. He will be able to practice with the team, but he won''t be able to travel with the Wildcats.
Georgia back in polls
It has been eight years since Georgia has had a ranked men''s basketball team.
That changed Monday, when the Bulldogs (10-2, 1-0 SEC) checked in at No. 24 in this week''s Associated Press Top 25.
Georgia hasn''t been ranked since March 10, 2003, when it was No. 21 in the final regular-season poll. That Georgia squad spent the entire SEC schedule in the national rankings, moving as high as No. 15.
Georgia earned a major boost Saturday from its 77-70 win against then-No. 10 Kentucky. Junior forward Trey Thompkins led the Bulldogs with 25 points and seven rebounds.
Georgia will look for its 10th straight win at 7 p.m. Wednesday when it plays at Vanderbilt. The winning streak is the program''s longest since the Final Four team of 1983 started its season 9-0. No Georgia team since the 1947-48 season has won 10 games in a row.
When asked about a potential boost from cracking the national rankings, Georgia coach Mark Fox downplayed any boost his team might get.
"That''s kind of a hypothetical question," Fox said. "I don''t know if it makes any difference to us. We still got games to play."
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