By Chris DePew
Feb. 17, 2018
Where to watch: Alabama (17-9, 8-5 SEC) at Kentucky (17-9, 6-7) – Today 1 p.m. Central, Rupp Arena, CBS
Who to watch: Collin Sexton. After missing two games with an abdominal injury and struggling in his first game back, Sexton has been locked in the last half-dozen contests, scoring 15 or more points each game. And his passing creativity is blossoming as well, with 10 combined assists in back-to-back blowouts of Tennessee and LSU. Interestingly, the Tide seems to do best when Sexton stays in the 15-18 point range and doesn’t wind up at the foul line a lot. In games where he has broken the 20-point barrier, Bama is 0-3 against SEC teams and also lost to Minnesota and Arizona in that situation. The offense works best when Sexton blends into it rather than taking on the lion’s share of the scoring load.
What to watch for: Two teams with styles so similar they could have been separated at birth. The Wildcats seem to be an exaggerated version of many of Bama’s best and worst traits. UK takes advantage of its size, particularly in the front court, to bully teams on defense and force its way to the foul line, where it gets a decent amount of scoring but leaves points on the table with lousy shooting. It is better than the Tide at rebounding, worse at 3-point shooting and about the same with a paucity of assists. But while Alabama is playing with confidence after winning seven of its last 10, the Wildcats have the noise and trappings of Rupp Arena on their side, plus hunger and desperation as a four-game losing streak has them trending towards the bubble, which qualifies as a civic emergency in Lexington.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter at @TideFansChris