By Chris DePew
March 10, 2018
Where to watch: No. 9 Alabama (19-14) vs. No. 4 Kentucky (22-10) – Today noon Central, Scottrade Center (St. Louis), ESPN
Who to watch: Collin Sexton. The “Young Bull” is on pace to be SEC Tournament MVP, but how much gas is left in his tank after playing 33 and 34 minutes in his first two games? He isn’t the only Bama player who can score, but the offense usually grinds to a halt during the minutes of rest Avery Johnson steals for him, particularly in the first half. If his legs start to go it will likely show up first in his 3-point shooting, where he has gone 9-for-14 in wins over Texas A&M and Auburn. And don’t forget that Kentucky held him to his second-lowest scoring total since returning from a mid-January abdominal strain. He managed just 12 points before fouling out at Rupp Arena in an 81-71 loss that turned the Wildcats’ season around.
What to watch for: Will the Crimson Tide have enough frontcourt pieces to match Kentucky? Donta Hall’s availability won’t be announced until close to game time, but it is hard to believe Johnson would risk playing his post star if he isn’t close to 100 percent healthy. But he wasn’t the only Bama big man to get hurt in the blowout of top-seeded Auburn. Daniel Giddens lasted one (foul-plagued) minute before twisting his knee awkwardly and leaving the game. Alex Reese later had to visit the locker room with an eye issue, although he came back for mop up duty at the end of the game. Galin Smith has had his best back-to-back games this weekend, but if he and Braxton Key are the only men left to defend the paint, the Cats will run wild indeed. UK outrebounded Bama 44-27 and scored 20 second-chance points in the first meeting.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris