Detroit-Alabama Preview

Alabama’s stingy defense had an uninspiring effort its last time

out, and coach Anthony Grant’s team suffered a second consecutive

defeat.

It could be difficult for the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide to bounce

back Sunday against a Detroit team that is looking to build on an

impressive offensive showing in Eli Holman’s season debut.

After losing to Georgetown 57-55 on Dec. 1, ending a 24-game

home winning streak, Alabama (7-2) fell 74-62 to Dayton on

Wednesday in its first true road game of the season.

The Tide let an opponent shoot better than 60 percent from the

field for the first time since 1997, as the Flyers finished at 60.9

percent and went 10 of 19 from 3-point range. Alabama had been

holding teams to 33.3 percent from the floor and 53.1 points per

game to rank among the nation’s top 10 in both categories.

None of its previous eight opponents had topped 44 percent

shooting or 64 points.

“We didn’t defend the way we needed to defend,” Grant said.

“We’re nine games in, our first road game, it’s an opportunity for

us to learn from it and get better.”

That might not be so easy, however, against a Detroit team that

reached the 90-point mark for the fourth time in its last game.

After beating St. John’s 69-63 on Monday, the Titans (5-6) shot

53.2 percent in Thursday’s 92-81 victory over Western Michigan.

Detroit reached the 50-point mark with 4:08 remaining in the first

half Thursday and led 61-39 at the break.

Thursday marked the long-awaited season debut of Holman, who had

been suspended for allegedly assaulting a student at a fraternity

party. The senior made an immediate impact, finishing with 21

points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in 19 minutes off the

bench.

“It was very hard to be away from the guys, but just to be back

and be able to rebuild our chemistry is a great thing,” said the

6-foot-10 center, who averaged 11.8 points and a Horizon

League-best 9.6 rebounds last season.

Holman is one of three Detroit players named to the conference

preseason first team along with guards Ray McCallum and Chase

Simon.

McCallum, the Horizon League preseason player of the year, is

averaging 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in four games

this month. Simon is scoring a team-best 16.8 per game after

back-to-back 20-point outings.

Tony Mitchell leads Alabama with 15.4 points per game after

scoring a combined 39 in the two losses. Fellow forward JaMychal

Green averages 14.8 points and is shooting 66.7 percent over his

last four games.

Poor 3-point shooting continues to plague the Tide, hitting 22.0

percent from beyond the arc over the last six games – 8 for 43 over

the last three.

Alabama is among the SEC’s lowest-scoring teams at 68.0 points

per game, while the Titans average a Horizon-best 75.9.

Detroit has lost 17 straight against ranked teams since beating

then-No. 24 Butler 63-54 on Jan. 10, 2002, but three of its last

five such contests were decided by five points or less.

In their only game against a Top 25 opponent last season, the

Titans fell to then-No. 10 Syracuse 66-55 but had a three-point

halftime lead at the Carrier Dome.

In the only previous meeting between these programs, Alabama won

74-63 in the 2001 NIT semifinals.