Who to watch: Javian Davis. This is a rare opportunity for Davis to exploit a size and talent advantage in the paint, and the freshman needs to take advantage for Bama to be at its best. Even when limited to 12 minutes by foul problems at Penn State, he came within a fraction of matching his season averages of 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. The more damage he can do inside, the more space his teammates can find to score elsewhere on the floor. With just three games left until SEC play, Nate Oats needs to be able to start stretching him out so he’s ready to handle playing 25-30 minutes a night, so avoiding foul trouble is crucial.
What to watch for: Who will defend Samford point guard Josh Sharkey? The Bulldogs have four starters that average 13 or more points per game, but the offense revolves around Sharkey, a 5-foot-10 senior averaging 16.8 points and 9.1 assists per game. Does Oats trust Kira Lewis enough on defense to match him up with his counterpart, or does he switch John Petty onto him instead? Will he bring Herbert Jones down from the inside to be the primary defender, possibly leaving the Crimson Tide vulnerable in the pain and on the wing? When the reserves are in, can the foul-prone Beetle Bolden be trusted to match up against Sharkey? There’s only so much that can be learned from playing Samford, which has just three Division I wins, but how Bama deploys its defense could be the most interesting subplot of the night.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris