By Chris DePew
March 10, 2016
Where to watch: No. 10 Alabama (17-13) vs. No. 7 Ole Miss (20-11) – 6 p.m. Central today, Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, Tenn.), SEC Network.
Who to watch: Justin Coleman. If Alabama is going to make a Cinderella run through the SEC tournament, it naturally will need a big showing from all-conference guard Retin Obasohan. But for Obasohan to be effective for up to four games in four days, he will need rest. And for him to get rest, Coleman has to be effective running the point without him. And for Coleman to be effective, he needs a sharp turnaround from the last five games, where his slump has coincided with Bama’s. Over that stretch he exceeded three assists just once, averaged less than four points per game and shot a nightmarish 5-for-32 from the field. One thing that has improved lately is that he is turning the ball over less, but he coughed it up five times in a 74-66 loss to the Rebels back in January.
What to watch for: Avoiding foul trouble. The Crimson Tide frontcourt got whistled early and often in Oxford, with Donta Hall (no points, two rebounds) fouling out and Jimmie Taylor (two points, two rebounds) and Michael Kessens committing four fouls each. That allowed Ole Miss to control the paint in the second half as the Rebels rode 15 offensive rebounds to a comeback victory. A soft non-conference schedule and injury troubles in the middle of their SEC run kept the Rebels out of NCAA bubble discussions, but Ole Miss is healthy again and has a faster, more talented lineup that could give Bama fits again. Kessens had the game of his life against Ole Miss (10 points, seven rebounds) and expecting him to match that is a bit much. But it is entirely reasonable to hope for better showings from at least two of Hall, Taylor and Shannon Hale, who scored four points in just 15 minutes in Oxford.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris