By Chris DePew
Jan. 7, 2017
Where to watch: Vanderbilt (8-6, 2-0 SEC) at Alabama (8-5, 1-0) – Today 6 p.m. Central, Coleman Coliseum, ESPNU
Who to watch: Corban Collins. The senior transfer came off the bench to play 18 minutes in a win at Mississippi State after missing two games with a groin injury. He’s unlikely to win his starting job back from Avery Johnson Jr., but still has a valuable role to play as a perimeter defender. Alabama is a top 20 team nationally in defensive efficiency, allowing a miserly 0.88 points per possession, but is surprisingly leaky at the 3-point line, with opponents making nearly seven treys a game. And Vandy is addicted to 3-pointers. The Commodores opened SEC play by making 15 of them at LSU, then followed up with 14 more Wednesday against Auburn. On average, Vandy attempts 25 3-pointers per game and makes 10. Collins, Johnson and Dazon Ingram have to knock them off those averages to give Bama its best shot at winning.
What to watch for: If the Crimson Tide has the discipline to work the ball inside. That’s on coaches as well as players. No matter how much the senior Avery Johnson or the radio announcers insist that Alabama is a good 3-point shooting team just looking to break out, the evidence screams out the opposite case. Bama shoots a brutal 31.4 percent from 3-point range, tied for 295th nationally, and makes less than seven 3-pointers a game. By contrast the Tide makes just over 50 percent from inside the arc, which isn’t an exceptional number but far more encouraging. Those trips to the paint also create free throw opportunities, and while Bama isn’t great at sinking foul shots either, it can get its share of points given enough chances. But when the other team is taking and making lots of 3s, the temptation is strong to try to match what they’re doing. If the Tide gets caught doing that today, they’re sunk.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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