February 5, 2024
6:00 PM CT at Memorial Gymnasium
SEC Network | Live Radio Call
We are on the bubble after a string of losses. We played well in every game, but we eventually lost a step and couldn’t ever recover. It got me thinking about starter minutes, especially since Jordyn Cambridge is top of SEC in minutes per game. I had some time and was curious enough that I actually sat down and looked at some numbers (I put way too much time into that spreadsheet) I pulled off ESPN and... it wasn’t as enlightening as I thought it would be. Our four most-minutes-playing players do play more minutes than most teams and are shorter than most other teams’ equivalent players, which maybe explains why we have looked so gassed in some of these recent games, but overall nothing seemed too extreme. Kentucky was much shorter and Ole Miss and Texas A&M are much taller and there’s sort of a split between the top-6 teams and bottom-7 teams in terms of minutes (Alabama splits the difference), but I don’t think any of that is overly revealing. Maybe if I had factored in players missing games and/or a different number of players I would have found something, but for now I’ll just say that, yeah, we’re kinda short and we’re asking a lot of our starters.
Looking more closely at the game tonight, this is a big one. We are currently tied with Alabama in the conference standings, and while our dreams of a top-4 conference seed are probably dashed, a game like this could end up being the determining factor for us between a conference 5- or 6-seed and playing a tired, bad team coming out of the first round or a rested, decent team fresh for the second day. The good news? Per my earlier analysis, there is no obvious height disadvantage today. The big thing I have noticed is, in games when we win, it’s because we pass well. Some of these recent losses, you’ve seen our touch be a little off, maybe not enough whip on a pass or we misjudge just how much reach a defender has. I don’t think it gets any easier against Alabama. I haven’t watched any Crimson Tide basketball so far this year, but the stats tell me they limit good passing and cause plenty of turnovers. Somehow, we never run out of good SEC teams to face. My biggest hope for the game is just that we don’t throw it away by going 11-21 from the line.