Tide can’t afford to get bullied again in the Bluegrass


Feb. 23,

Where to watch: Alabama (16-10, 7-7 SEC) at No. 16 Kentucky (20-7, 10-4) – 6 p.m. Central today, Rupp Arena, ESPN

Who to watch: Shannon Hale. Whatever is holding the power forward out of the starting lineup at this point, it doesn’t appear to be physical. In four games back from an early-February foot injury, he has played between 18 and 26 minutes each game and has scored in double figures three times. Against State he had his best game since November, scoring 22 points and shooting much better than usual (7-for-15 field goals, 4-for-8 from 3-point range). Hopefully Hale has squared everything away to get in ’s good graces, because fellow junior Michael Kessens, who has started all six games this month and scored 17 total points, will be a huge liability if he has to play significant minutes, even if big Alex Poythress and Derek Willis are both too banged up to play.

What to watch for: Can the guards cope with pressure? The broke down ’s offense time and again in the Jan. 9 meeting at Coleman Coliseum, with Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe in particular pressuring ball handlers as soon as they crossed midcourt. Alabama only had seven turnovers, but time and again Retin Obasohan and Justin Coleman burned up the shot clock dribbling far away from the basket instead of being able to set up plays. The got a measly five assists on 18 baskets and shot under 35 percent.

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