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Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide | |

Alabama player John Petty speaks during the SEC men’s NCAA college basketball media day, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Date/time/TV: Dec. 9, 11 a.m., ESPN

Game location: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Contract: Two-game series (first game at McKale Center last season)

Series history: Alabama leads 2-1, last game in 2017-18

Last season: 20-16 (8-10 Southeastern Conference)

Coach: Avery Johnson (57-46 in three seasons at Alabama and overall)

Go-to guys: G John Petty (So., 10.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg), C Donta Hall (10.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg)

X factor: F Riley Norris (Sr., 4.8 ppg, coming off hip injury)

Key newcomers: F Tevin Mack (Jr., Texas transfer), G Kira Lewis (four-star freshman), G Diante Wood (four-star freshman)

Outlook: Despite being in Nick Saban’s backyard, Avery Johnson is making Tide fans pay attention to basketball. Alabama won its first NCAA tournament game since 2006 and drew some 13,000 fans per game last season. While star guard Collin Sexton has come and gone to the NBA, Johnson should be able to sustain last season’s momentum because Alabama has six of its top eight scorers returning, including slick-shooting John Petty and shot-blocking forward Donta Hall. It gets easier if the 17-year-old Lewis can help out at the point after skipping his senior season of high school.

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