Who to watch: Alex Reese. None of Bama’s post players had a good game Tuesday versus Tennessee, but Reese had an especially poor night. Before fouling out after just 24 minutes, he missed seven of his 10 shots, turned it over five times, managed just three rebounds and had the second-most prominent on-court meltdown behind John Petty when the whistles started piling up in the second half. It was a bad look from an upperclassman at a time when a young, thin team needed steady leadership. Reese is an important part of making this shrunken roster work, and fouling out in back-to-back games has sapped Bama’s ability to compete in the paint. The Tide needs him to bounce back in order to provide any kind of resistance to Rayshaun Hammonds, currently averaging 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
What to watch for: Is any lead truly safe? Whichever head coach heads into the locker room with a halftime lead better have an antacid buffet waiting for him, because these teams have turned squandering big margins into an art form. Last weekend Alabama opened the game on a 12-0 run and never looked half as competent the rest of the night as Arkansas pulled out the victory. Then the Tide topped itself by blowing a 15-point lead to the Vols. But that’s nothing compared to UGA, which wasted a 22-point lead at Florida two games after losing at Missouri despite being up 20. In Alabama’s case the blown margins have been a result of hitting a mental wall in the second half, with long stretches where the Tide simply stops competing for rebounds. If that happens again Saturday, it likely means leaving Athens with a fourth consecutive loss.