Alabama's season could be on downward spiral
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama's difficult season has taken a turn for the worse.
Coach Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide are trying to reverse a recent downward spiral of lopsided defeats and continuing road woes.
Alabama (9-12, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) has lost four of its last five games by an average margin of 15 points going into Wednesday's visit to Arkansas (13-8, 2-6).
"Our vision is to build a program that can compete for championships, and we're not there yet," Grant said Tuesday. "But we're going to keep working. We're going to keep grinding every single day. I think the guys in the locker room will tell you the same thing.
"That's what we talk about every day. These guys want to win."
Wins have been hard to come by this season for the Tide, which has averaged 23 victories over the past three seasons. Alabama started the season competitive even in losses despite a schedule ranked the second-toughest in the country by ESPN.com.
Four of the seven nonconference defeats were by five points or less, and the most lopsided loss was 74-64 to No. 11 Duke. Alabama hasn't been nearly so competitive lately.
The Tide is coming off a 76-59 loss to Tennessee that followed a 74-55 thumping by Auburn, which had dropped 16 consecutive SEC games.
Alabama has been cold from the floor in the four losses, shooting a combined 35.9 percent (75 of 209) from the field and making just 20.6 percent (13 of 63) of its 3-pointers.
Grant said the team and coaching staff remain confident, but that now it needs to translate into victories.
"We've got to pull some games out. We've got to go win," said Grant, who has led the Tide to the NCAA tournament once in his first four seasons. "What I want to see is our team compete, play with that pride and energy for 40 minutes, put a full game together. Let's let the chips where they may after that.
"Obviously we're going to win some, we're going to lose some. If you lose, you're disappointed. You dust yourself off, you get up and you compete again. You win, you're excited about it and you hopefully let it go and get ready for the next one. That's just the nature of being a competitor, being an athlete, and especially this time of year."
Still, Alabama is in danger of its first losing season under Grant and the first sub-.500 mark in SEC play since his debut in 2009-10.
Turning things around in the short-term comes with an added challenge: Winning away from Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama is playing four of its next five games on the road, including Saturday's visit to No. 3 Florida. The Tide is 0-8 away from home this season and has lost 11 straight road or neutral-site games since beating Georgia on Feb. 12, 2013.
Guard Retin Obasohan said Alabama can't go into a hostile environment worrying about the past.
"It takes a different type of focus, but at the same time you have to flush all the things that have happened," Obasohan said. "It's a day-by-day thing."
Grant insists the Tide's play on the road isn't a big issue for the team.
"Honestly, I think that's something that you guys in the media focus on," he said. "We focus on one game. We've got to play at Arkansas. Arkansas's a very talented team.
"We're going to gameplan for Arkansas. We're not going to gameplan for every road game we play. We're going to focus on the task at hand. Our task right now is to go to Arkansas and try to get a win."
Follow John Zenor on Twitter @jzenor