Braxton Key a welcome holiday present as Tide returns to action

Mar 11, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide forward Braxton Key (25) blocks the shot attempt by Kentucky Wildcats guard De'Aaron Fox (0) during second half of game eleven of the SEC Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Kentucky won 79-74. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 11, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide forward (25) blocks the shot attempt by Kentucky Wildcats guard De’Aaron Fox (0) during second half of game eleven of the SEC Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Kentucky won 79-74. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

By Chris DePew
TideFans.com Staff
Dec. 19, 2017

Where to watch: Alabama (7-3) vs. (6-5) – 8 p.m. Central today, Von Braun Center (Huntsville), SEC Network

Who to watch: Braxton Key. All signs point to the sophomore forward making his season debut, likely supplanting in the starting lineup. He was the brightest spot in last year’s lineup, making the SEC All-Freshman team after scoring a team-high 12 points per game to go with an average of 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists. But this is a far different team and it will take time for Key to find his groove alongside a star-studded backcourt and the maturing . Key had holes in his game, namely turnovers and free throw shooting, and only has two games to address them before conference play.

What to watch for: A killer instinct. The Crimson Tide seems to mirror the level of its opponents, which makes for interesting finishes but doesn’t do much to calm frayed nerves. Bama’s last five games (and six of its last seven) have been decided by six points or less. The Bears are a deadly 3-point shooting team (43.2 percent, seventh-best in the nation) but aren’t equipped to rebound or defend against a team with Alabama’s size or talent. Bama is the better team, and it needs to demonstrate that dominance from the opening tip through the final whistle.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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