By Chris DePew
Jan. 5, 2019
Where to watch: No. 13 Kentucky (10-2 – #13 Pomeroy Rating) at Alabama (9-3 – #64) – Today, noon Central, Coleman Coliseum, ESPN
Who to watch: Tevin Mack. To put it bluntly, if the Crimson Tide is going to upset Kentucky for the first time in six years, it needs someone to greatly exceed what they’ve already done this season. And Mack has the most room for improvement. A high-volume shooter, Mack has become a bit more consistent of late as a secondary scoring option, but only once at Alabama has he exceeded the 14.8 points-per-game average he rang up as a sophomore at Texas. He’s capable of getting hot from 3-point range and also of matching the tenacity of fellow guards Dazon Ingram and John Petty on the glass. It’s hard to ask for a career day against the Wildcats, but Bama needs a big win from somewhere to get itself on the right side of the NCAA bubble.
What to watch for: Is the Tide tough enough mentally not to wilt against Big Blue? Avery Johnson’s teams have played seven times against Kentucky and only once gotten closer than nine points. In the remaining games, Bama has has fallen everywhere on the range from flustered to downright intimidated to utterly defeated before the opening tip.
Every regular with SEC experience has put up at least one clunker against UK, so it may fall to Mack and freshman Kira Lewis to step up and play fearlessly in their league debuts. And Johnson needs to provide a steadying hand by sharpening his rotations and making sure his team sticks to the game plan when adversity inevitably hits and the temptation to panic and freelance is strong.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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