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Trip to Gator country begins SEC grind for Alabama

Where to watch: Alabama (7-5, #62 KenPom ranking) at Florida (8-4, #26) – Today 5 p.m. Central, O’Connell Center, ESPN2

Who to watch: Kira Lewis. As Coleman Coliseum PA announcer Tony Giles likes to say at the end of halftime, “Your rest period is over.” Lewis has played 447 of a possible 480 minutes so far this season, and the beginning of SEC play figures to keep him even busier. Already he is involved in 23 percent of Bama’s plays, and that number figures to hold steady if not increase. Lewis has seen quite a bit of use at off guard while Nate Oats has trusted others to handle the ball at the point, but with John Petty and Jaden Shackelford finding a scoring groove, there may be less need to sacrifice Lewis’ ball handling in order to set up his shot. Lewis has had just one turnover each of the past two games, but the Crimson Tide is still averaging more than 16 per game.

What to watch for: Which team can impose its preferred tempo on the other. The Gators are the first slow-paced team Bama has faced with enough talent that it could truly grind the game to a near halt. Florida has always been a middling scoring team under Mike White but has developed a reputation for the SEC’s nastiest defense. Even while off to a middling start against a brutal non-conference schedule, the Gators have only allowed one team to crack the 70-point barrier. The Tide can’t let itself get too frustrated if the points aren’t coming quickly and start jacking up bad shots just for the sake of getting them off early in the shot clock.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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