Alabama prepares to face South Carolina in SEC Tournament opener

NASHVILLE, TN - The University of Alabama men's basketball team continued its preparations for the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a practice and press conference session at the Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday afternoon.

The Crimson Tide, the Western Division's No. 4 seed tips off with South Carolina the Eastern Division's No. 5 seed, Thursday at noon.  The contest will be broadcast via the SEC Network and

Following an hour-long shoot around on the hardwood, Crimson Tide players and coaches met with the media to discuss Thursday's tilt.

"On behalf of our team, we're very excited to be here," UA head coach Anthony Grant said.  "We're obviously looking forward to opening the Tournament tomorrow with the first game at noon against South Carolina."

Having faced each other only eight days prior to Thursday's meeting, the Tide (16-14, 6-10 SEC) and Gamecocks (15-15, 6-10 SEC) share some recent familiarity with one another.

Trailing by as many as 14 points in Columbia on March 3, the Tide used a 13-point, 10-rebound performance from reining SEC Freshman of the Week Tony Mitchell to earn a 79-70 victory, its first over an SEC Eastern Division opponent this season.

"It was a very good win for our basketball team," Grant said of the Tide's recent victory over the Gamecocks.  "Obviously, that game last week will have nothing to do with the 40 minutes that we've got to play tomorrow.  Both teams will make adjustments and be very well prepared."

The winner of Thursday's game advances to the second round to face Kentucky, the Eastern Division's No. 1 seed, Friday at noon.