By Chris DePew
Jan. 2, 2018
Where to watch: Alabama (9-4, 1-0 SEC) at Vanderbilt (5-8, 0-1) – Today 6 p.m. Central, Memorial Gymnasium, SEC Network
Who to watch: John Petty. Just named SEC freshman of the week for the second time, Petty tends to run hot and cold during the course of a game but has a knack for ending up in double figures. He has scored at least 12 points in each of his last six games, including 18 in Saturday’s upset of Texas A&M. So long as he can keep shooting better than 40 percent from the floor and limiting his turnovers to less than three a game, he is a very valuable piece that punishes defenses who overcommit to stopping Collin Sexton or try to pack the paint.
What to watch for: Avoiding turnovers. One reason the Commodores have crashed and burned despite a veteran backcourt is their inability to force turnovers. Vandy opponents are turning it over just 10.5 times per game, the 11th-lowest rate in Division I. But Bama coughs up the ball an average of 14 times a game, and young teams have been known to get mesmerized by the funky layout of Memorial Gym, with its raised floor, enormous out-of-bounds area and benches under the baskets. Of note, the only Crimson Tide players who have experience playing in the 65-year-old facility are Donta Hall and Lawson Schaffer, who combined for nine minutes of action in a 2016 loss.
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