Can Magnolia State native get Bama back on track in Oxford?

Where to watch: Alabama (14-12, 6-7 SEC – #55 KenPom rating) at (13-13, 4-9) – Today 7:30 p.m. Central, The Pavilion at , SEC Network

Who to watch: . He came to Bama with the label of a project player, and like those Ikea shelves under your bed, Smith never did get built out a finished, fully-useful product. His 3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game are at about the same anemic level as his previous two seasons. But something about playing his home-state school fired up the Clinton, Miss., native last season, as his best two games of the year came against the Rebels. He scored a career-best 11 points (plus added seven rebounds) in last year’s SEC Tournament meeting, plus had 10 points in last January’s meeting in Tuscaloosa. At this point any inspiration for a Bama big man would be a blessing. The Crimson Tide has been getting embarrassed on the glass all month, and at times seems to give up on scoring in the paint altogether, unless it is to clear room for a guard to drive to the rim.

What to watch for: Will Breein Tyree merely score points or blow up like a supernova? The Ole Miss senior averages 20.3 points per game, but lately 20 points feels like an off night for the league’s No. 2 scorer. Tyree went for 38 points against South Carolina, then came back two games later and hung 40 on Mississippi State. He’s an adequate 3-point shooter but does just as much or more damage inside the arc and especially at the foul line. That’s a red flag given Bama’s propensity to foul. Look for and to get the first cracks at keeping Tyree in check, with plenty of help rotating over.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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