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Texas Tech looks to start 3-0 visiting Alabama
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 11/14/2013  at  4:16:00 AM
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Coleman Coliseum – Tuscaloosa, AL
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Alabama -10

Looking to secure its first win of the season, Alabama will host 2-0 Texas Tech on Thursday night.

The Red Raiders are 2-0 SU and 1-0 ATS to start the year, covering in their most recent game with an 88-68 victory against Northern Arizona. Alabama started the season with a more difficult foe and fell to Oklahoma 82-73 on a neutral court despite being a four-point favorite. When these two teams met last year in Lubbock, the Crimson Tide eked out a 66-62 victory while the Red Raiders covered the 8.5-point line. The strong start is good news for Texas Tech and new head coach Tubby Smith as the school could seemingly only improve after last season when it finished 11-20 SU (10-14 ATS). The loss to Oklahoma has to be a big disappointment for Alabama fans, who have NCAA Tournament hopes this year after the team just missed out a season ago despite a 23-13 record. Both teams have telling negative trends, as Texas Tech is 0-9 ATS after a game where it made at least half of its three-point tries since the start of 2011-12, while Alabama is a woeful 7-18 ATS (28%) as a home favorite (or pick) in this same timeframe.

Can Alabama cover the big spread on Thursday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The experts have started the season with a profitable 56% ATS mark (15-12-2) in college basketball Best Bets, led by StatFox Zach's 4-1-1 ATS record. StatFox Scott has also started strong, going 5-2 ATS on his college hoops Best Bets.

Junior PG Robert Turner (16.5 PPG, 3.0 APG) leads Texas Tech in scoring two games into the season. The 6-foot-3 junior college transfer was Tubby Smith’s big addition to this year’s squad and has been red hot from the field, hitting 64% FG and 5-of-8 of his three-pointers to start the year. Junior PF Jordan Tolbert was second on the team in scoring last season with 9.9 PPG and is also off to a big start with 15.0 PPG (64% FG) and 9.5 RPG thus far. He’s joined down low by last year’s leading scorer SF Jaye Crockett, who has tallied 10.5 PPG on 10-of-13 shooting (77%) with 5.5 RPG and 2.5 APG. Crockett dominated the Crimson Tide last year with 22 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. The key for this team could be the development of freshman SF Aaron Ross, who has played only 13.5 MPG for Smith thus far, scoring 5.5 PPG. Once a top-100 recruit, he redshirted last season because of a knee injury and has the potential to become a strong weapon for this offense as he finds his bearings. Texas Tech was able to hang in with Alabama by forcing 20 turnovers and grabbing 12 offensive rebounds, which helped make up for a dismal 37.9% FG clip, including 3-of-18 threes.

Alabama shot 51.1% FG in the win at Lubbock last year, but has some new faces this season. The star of this Crimson Tide team remains PG Trevor Releford, who paced the team in points last season with 14.9 PGP. The senior played only 22 minutes while dealing with foul trouble against Oklahoma, finishing the game with 12 points. Last season, he did a great job breaking down the TTU defense, getting to the foul line 14 times and finishing the game with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. He finally may have a strong backcourt mate, as SG Algie Key—a junior college transfer—erupted for 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the opener. The backcourt has serious depth with SGs Levi Randolph, who had eight points and four rebounds versus Oklahoma, and Rodney Cooper, who pitched in with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Those two stand at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, giving the team rebounding capabilities when they opt for a smaller lineup, which is often the case. Also watch out for Belgian G Retin Obasohan, who didn’t do much in only 13.0 MPG last year (3.9 PPG on 37% FG) but dropped 14 points on 6-of-10 FG in the opener before fouling out. Junior PF Nick Jacobs is their most notable body down low, and wound up with six points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the loss to the Sooners. He is a muscular 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, and averaged 7.6 PPG (54% FG) and 4.1 RPG last season. He made all four of his shots in last year's win in Lubbock.

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