Alabama basketball can't seem to get off the rollercoaster.
The same team that rose to as high as No. 6 in the AP poll with wins over Gonzaga, Houston, and LSU has now lost four out of its last six games including its latest loss to the Georgia Bulldogs who had not won a conference game previously. Considering the circumstances, that might be the worst loss for Alabama basketball since the Avery Johnson era.
However, the Crimson Tide still have plenty of opportunities to right the ship and it starts this Saturday with an enormous matchup against the No. 4 Baylor Bears (18-2) in the Big 12/SEC challenge.
Ranked the No. 1 team in the country for a short time, Baylor presents a big test for Alabama. The Bears excel on the defensive end of the floor only allowing 59.3 points per game, and have versatile defenders in the backcourt and frontcourt.
On the offensive side of the ball, guard LJ Cryer (13.9 PPG) leads the way but what makes Baylor special is their overall depth. Six players average at least eight points making it hard to key in on just one player.
If Alabama wants to get a big win at home on Saturday, they will need to play with a lot more effort and clean up their mistakes. Getting off to a good start, taking care of the basketball, and locking in on defense have been weaknesses for the Crimson Tide and it will be imperative to improve those areas against Baylor.
One bright spot for Alabama has been the play of Jaden Shackelford who has averaged 17.5 PPG in conference play and shot the ball well as of late. Alabama will need to see that success continued on Saturday if they hope for a victory.
The contest against Baylor begins a daunting three game stretch for the Crimson Tide as their next two games are against No. 1 Auburn and No. 12 Kentucky. Despite the recent play and the oncoming gauntlet, Alabama head coach Nate Oats is still confident in his team.
"There's plenty of games left on the schedule to get our résumé where it needs to be," Oats said. "We've proven that we've got the talent to play with the best teams in the country and now we just have to go out and figure out how to do it every night."
Alabama will play Baylor at 3 p.m. CT this Saturday on ESPN.
Check out the video at the top of the page where Clay Miller and BamaCentral staff writer Joey Blackwell preview Alabama's matchup against Baylor.
The Extra Point: Previewing Alabama Basketball's Matchup vs. Baylor