Who to watch: Kira Lewis. An increase in turnovers with the switch to the breakneck offense Nate Oats favors was not unexpected. But few predicted that the Crimson Tide’s star point guard with NBA potential would be one of the chief culprits. Lewis is turning the ball over 4.5 times per game, more than double the rate from his freshman year and tied for the seventh-worst showing among Division I players. Alabama as a whole averages 18 turnovers a game, tied for 10th-worst in the country (and with a second player, Herbert Jones, checking in among the 60 most turnover-prone players at 3.43 per game.) Even when figuring in the accelerated pace, the Tide is coughing up the ball on more than 22 percent of its possessions, again one of the worst figures in the country. And right on cue, the Nittany Lions have been thriving on other teams’ mistakes, cashing in on 20 Maryland turnovers to upset the fourth-ranked Terrapins earlier this week.
What to watch for: Can Alabama keep its poise away from home? Today begins a stretch where four out of the next five games are away from Coleman Coliseum, and the Tide hasn’t yet proven it can thrive without the comforts of home. Bama was never competitive after the opening minutes of a blowout loss at Rhode Island and got blown off the court at the Battle 4 Atlantis by Iowa State a day after an emotionally-draining loss to North Carolina. When adversity has hit away from home, this team hasn’t really had an answer, despite an experienced core of junior players. If it can’t show a competitive spark in State College, it is hard to picture it happening during the twice-a-week grind of the SEC schedule in places like Lexington, Auburn or Baton Rouge.
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