Bama Hoops Hype

PREVIEW: Alabama Hosts No. 12 Oklahoma in Big 12/SEC Challenge

Alabama Men's Basketball

January 27th has been circled on the Alabama basketball schedule since November. And on Saturday, the day finally arrives.

The Crimson Tide will be playing in a sold-out Coleman Coliseum as they host Trae Young and the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Alabama is looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s loss in Oxford.

“This is a very efficient offensive team,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said on Friday. “The best offensive team that we’ve faced this year and probably in my two and a half years since I’ve been here.”

The game will be the fifth matchup of the Big 12/SEC Challenge to be played on Saturday. The Crimson Tide are currently a 1-point underdog but will be looking to extend its home winning streak to six games for the first time since Johnson arrived in Tuscaloosa.

The Sooners are currently 15-4 on the season and sit in a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12. Oklahoma has lost two of three games but is coming off of its biggest win of the season after defeating No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday night.

How To Keep Up

Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

When: 1:15 p.m. CT

Watch: ESPN

Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink

Starting Lineups

Alabama (13-7, 5-3): Dazon Ingram (11.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.2 apg), John Petty (18.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.4 apg), Braxton Key (5.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg), Herbert Jones (5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.6 apg) Daniel Giddens (4.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg)

No. 12 Oklahoma (15-4, 5-3): Trae Young (30.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 9.6 apg), Christian James (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.6 apg), Rashard Odomes (6.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 apg), Brady Manek (11.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 43% 3PT), Khadeem Lattin (7.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 bpg)

Key Matchup

Collin Sexton vs. Trae Young. Duh. This is the matchup that everyone is ready to watch. This is the matchup that is bringing 57 NBA scouts from 25 different NBA teams to Coleman Coliseum. Trae Young is the nation’s leading scorer and has scored more than 40 points three times this season. He can score but he can also set up his teammates. Young’s 9.6 assists per game also leads the country. Earlier this season, Young set an NCAA record with 22 assists in a game. The main point: this kid can play. And we know that Collin Sexton can play as well. Sexton is Alabama’s leading scorer and is (by far) the Tide’s most used player. Young will get his points but Sexton will likely be put in charge of playing most of the defense. Both of these players will be looking to drive and put the other in foul trouble. The most points may not necessarily be the way to win this matchup. At the end of the day though, the one with the better performance will likely walk away with a win.

The Non-Obvious Key Matchup

Dazon Ingram vs. Christian James. This is one that may be a more deciding factor on the night, especially if Sexton is still limited by his abdominal injury. Christian James has been held to single digit scoring in just four games this season and three of them were losses. In Oklahoma’s three road losses this season, James shot just 36 percent from the field and made just 4-of-13 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, the Sooners are 6-0 when James connects on at least three 3-pointers. Containing him will be a key for the Crimson Tide. On Alabama’s side, Dazon Ingram may be the key to a victory. Avery Johnson’s squad is undefeated (8-0) this season when Ingram scores more than 10 points. To go even further, Alabama is also undefeated when Ingram reaches double figures in rebounds. These two players may not be matched up the whole game and certainly will not have the spotlight that the other two guards have. However, with the trends of the season, this success of these two players could make the difference.

Key Stats

14.7 ppg, 50% FG, 43% 3PT. Those are the stats of John Petty this season in Coleman Coliseum, a.k.a. Good John Petty. The freshman sharpshooter loves playing in Tuscaloosa and his stats have shown it. Petty is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc at home since the start of conference play, including making 8-of-13 against Auburn. It would be especially nice for the home fans to see another one of those showings from Petty on Saturday. The Crimson Tide may need every bit of it.

Prediction

One of my biggest problems with a player taking 40 percent of a team’s shots is that they are unpredictable. And that has been the case for Oklahoma this season. Trae Young has had his games in which he has shot 30 percent from the floor or turned the ball over 10 times in a game. Whether that will be what happens on Saturday is impossible to predict. The thing about Young and Oklahoma is that they can get up so many shots – especially 3-pointers – it may not matter how well they shoot. Not many teams have been able to control the pace against the Sooners and that’s the main reason they have been so good this season. Good luck to Alabama but I do not see this one going its way. Oklahoma 80, Alabama 72

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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