Bama has big challenge against high-flying Ducks

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Nov 30, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs forward Cullen Russo (13) defends as Oregon Ducks forward Dillon Brooks (24) dribbles the ball at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs forward Cullen Russo (13) defends as Oregon Ducks forward Dillon Brooks (24) dribbles the ball at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
 Nov 30, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs forward Cullen Russo (13) defends as Oregon Ducks forward Dillon Brooks (24) dribbles the ball at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; forward Cullen Russo (13) defends as Oregon forward Dillon Brooks (24) dribbles the ball at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos- Sports

Where to watch: Oregon (9-2) vs. Alabama (7-2) – Today 8 p.m. Central, Legacy Arena (Birmingham),

Who to watch: Jimmie Taylor. The junior center all but disappeared in the opening games of the era, which couldn’t be entirely explained by the faster pace and emphasis on outside shooting. But injuries led back to its low-post roots and Taylor responded by shaking off his funk. He grabbed nine rebounds at Clemson, then followed up with the Tide’s first double-double of the year (14 points, 11 rebounds) last Wednesday against Winthrop. Bama will need Taylor at his best to counter post Chris Boucher. The junior transfer averages 12 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.

What to watch for: Just how stout is this defense? is giving up 66.6 points per game (82nd nationally) and has held four of its last five to 60 or less. But almost none of those teams are capable of lighting up the scoreboard like Oregon. The score 77.5 points per game and have five that average 10 or more points per contest, led by forward Dillon Brooks (15.9 PPG). Oregon also averages an astonishing 14 assists per game, and point guard Casey Benson’s 9-to-1 assist to turnover ratio is off the charts. The breakneck offense Johnson envisions for ’s future is a reality today in Eugene, and Alabama, which will again be missing starting forward Shannon Hale, won’t have a realistic chance to win if it tries to match Oregon’s pace.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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