By Chris DePew
Dec. 22, 2017
Where to watch: Alabama (8-3) vs. Texas (8-3) – 8 p.m. Central today, Legacy Arena at the BJCC (Birmingham), ESPN2
Who to watch: Collin Sexton. It’s time for the do-it-all freshman to have a sharper, more-polished approach now that there are no more mid-major schools left on the regular season schedule. In his last two games he has picked up two quick fouls and headed to the bench, only to return well before halftime because Bama’s offense collapsed without him. Instead of flirting with disaster and taking a while to get in the game flow, he needs to turn it on from the start. The Longhorns play stingy, relentless defense under Shaka Smart, holding opponents to under 62 points per game by swatting shots and forcing turnovers.
What to watch for: If Texas can bully the Crimson Tide in the paint. Bama hasn’t had great results against big centers with NBA potential this year, losing to UCF (and 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall) and Arizona (home of 7-1 DeAndre Ayton). Now it faces a borderline 7-footer in Mo Bamba, a freshman leading the nation with 4.1 blocks per game to go with his 10.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. Against the other elite centers, Alabama didn’t get a ton of shots blocked but the thought of it happening was enough to throw the offense off-balance, leading to poor shots and bad positioning. Donta Hall will have a battle on his hands to reach his usual scoring level, and may be paired more with Daniel Giddens to relieve him of post duty and play more at power forward, where he has thrived this year.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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