By Chris DePew
Dec. 15, 2016
Where to watch: USC Upstate (7-5) at Alabama (4-4) – Today 7 p.m. Central, Coleman Coliseum, SEC Network Plus (online only)
Who to watch: Donta Hall. The sophomore center from Luverne got his first career start at Oregon and surely will be jumping for tonight’s opening tip after collecting 14 points and seven rebounds against the Ducks. The next step is for Hall to consistently attack the glass and play with confidence the way he did in Eugene. Paradoxically, his success inside could force opponents to stop camping out in the 2-3 zone defense if they find they can’t rebound well enough to stop him from racking up second-chance dunks.
What to watch for: More-defined rotations. Out of the 11 players who have appeared in at least seven out of Bama’s eight games, 10 are averaging more than 12 minutes per game and the 11th, Bola Olaniyan, has actually started a handful of games. There hasn’t been a set substitution pattern and only fleeting glimpses of team chemistry. After tonight there are only three games left to work out the bugs before SEC play, so it is crucial that some players start separating themselves from the pack and showing they can handle a bigger workload. That narrowing process is unfortunately being accelerated by the absence of Nick King, who is recovering from a lung infection and out indefinitely. If the Crimson Tide can build another big lead against the Spartans, Avery Johnson will probably empty his bench again, but for the opening 20 minutes it would be nice to see a pattern emerge.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris