TUSCALOOSA — Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant never has had a problem getting to the point. But his thoughts on the way his team has practiced since upsetting Kentucky on Tuesday had a little more direct punch to them than usual.
“Honestly, based on yesterday’s practice, we didn’t handle it very well,” Grant said Friday during a news conference. “We’ve got to be able to lock in and understand what we’re walking into and who we are as a basketball team. We’re dealing with a basketball team that’s eager and hungry.”
Redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele added, “We can’t get satisfied by winning those games. We have to realize there’s a big goal ahead of us. There’s a process and we have to stay committed to it.”
Alabama (12-6, 4-1 SEC) will play Saturday at Tennessee (9-7, 1-3) in Knoxville, Tenn., with the Tide riding a four-game win streak.
Staying committed to that process is more difficult now that the Tide has that streak going, and Grant said recognizes that.
“I think it’s human nature, and sometimes we have to fight that,” Grant said. “As a coach, do I like it? No. Do I understand it? Yeah. We’ve got to fight that and we’ve got to understand what we’re walking into (at Tennessee).”
Alabama already has played Tennessee this season, winning 68-65 in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago.
“A game that came down to the wire, that we were really fortunate to win,” Grant said. “We’re dealing with a team that, for lack of a better cliche, is kind of a wounded animal right now walking into their own building.
“It’s different, because we’re both familiar with each other. Obviously, we can both look at that game and I’m sure they’re looking at it thinking, ‘If we did A, B and C a little different, the outcome could’ve been different.”
Alabama’s home win was diluted by junior guard Jordan McRae’s performance, scoring 21 of Tennessee’s 65 points and shooting 57 percent from the floor.
“I’d say right now, he’d be among the leading vote-getters for player of the year in the league,” Grant said. “He’s just a really good player. They put him in a lot of spots -- sometimes he’s at point, sometimes he’s at the wing.”