Big 12/SEC Challenge 2013: Preview and Predictions for Texas Tech at Alabama

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Big 12/SEC Challenge 2013: Preview and Predictions for Texas Tech at Alabama
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The 2013 Big 12/SEC Challenge will take center stage on Thursday, Nov. 14. The Alabama Crimson Tide will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a battle between teams that have started the season in different ways.

Here's everything you need to know about the annual clash of two of college basketball's most powerful conferences.

2013 Big 12/SEC Challenge Schedule
Date Time (ET) Game Network
Thursday, Nov. 14 9 p.m. Texas Tech at Alabama ESPN2
Monday, Dec. 2 7 p.m. Auburn at Iowa State ESPNU
Monday, Dec. 2 9 p.m. Vanderbilt at Texas ESPN2
Thursday, Dec. 5 7 p.m. West Virginia at Missouri ESPN2
Thursday, Dec. 5 7 p.m. TCU at Mississippi State ESPNU
Thursday, Dec. 5 9 p.m. Ole Miss at Kansas State ESPN2
Friday, Dec. 6 9:30 p.m. South Carolina at No. 8 Oklahoma State ESPNU
Friday, Dec. 6 10 p.m. No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 23 Baylor* ESPN
Tuesday, Dec. 10 7 p.m. No. 5 Kansas at No. 11 Florida ESPN
Saturday, Dec. 21 7 p.m. Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M* ESPNU

*neutral site

 

Player to Watch: Trevor Releford, Alabama Crimson Tide

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The top NBA draft prospect in this game is senior guard Trevor Releford. It's unclear whether he can run point at the next level, but Releford is a two-way star who has a knack for making the big play in late-game situations.

That makes him the player to watch in this interconference clash.

Releford averaged 14.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals on a slash line of .476/.407/.824 in 2012-13. That type of defensive prowess and sharpshooting makes him the three-and-D player every NBA franchise has grown to love.

Putting his upside aside, Releford is one heck of a college basketball player.

Releford will lock down an opponent, forcing contested jump shots and turnovers to create offense in the other direction. He got into foul trouble during Alabama's season opener, but when he's on the floor, Releford is one of the best players in the SEC.

Prepare to see him go to work against Texas Tech.

 

Player to Watch: Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech Red Raiders

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

Texas Tech has a cast of quality players that includes scorer Robert Turner, sharpshooter Dusty Hannahs and all-around threat Jaye Crockett. The key to the short-term future of this team is big man Jordan Tolbert, who has done an excellent job controlling the interior early on.

He may be undersized for an interior player, but he plays big.

Through two games, Tolbert is averaging 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes of action per game. He's been aggressive on the glass, displaying minimal wasted motion on the offensive end of the floor.

Assuming he plays more than 23 minutes, his numbers will continue to impress.

Texas Tech is led by head coach Tubby Smith, who knows how to get the most out of his interior players. Tolbert appears to be the focal point on both ends early in the year, and he uses his experience and patience to help the team flourish.

This is going to be an ugly game, and Tolbert will play a major role in the result.

 

Prediction

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech is a legitimate NCAA tournament contender that could make some noise in the race for the Big 12 Championship. Alabama is a struggling squad that has a star in Releford who will make his fair share of SportsCenter countdown appearances due to his late-game heroics.

As well as Smith has the Red Raiders playing, Alabama is too good to drop a second straight game this early in the season.

Which team will win?

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Dating back to 2012-13, the Crimson Tide have won 10 consecutive regular-season home games. That advantage at Coleman Coliseum will be the deciding factor in this one, as the home-court edge has proven to be powerful.

It'll be close, but Alabama will win because of it.

The keys will be Releford's ability to force turnovers and Algie Key's ability to score with consistency. The latter dropped 20 points in his season debut, and he'll be granted the opportunity to strike with similar proficiency in his second game.

Don't expect too many points to be scored in this one.

Alabama 72, Texas Tech 67

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