DJC touched on this in the previous post, but Nick King will not travel with the team due to an undisclosed illness. According to Avery Johnson, King has lost 10 lbs in ten days, and the Alabama coaching staff is very concerned about his health. Nick is currently undergoing a series of tests to determine the cause of his illness and will be out indefinitely.
My Two Cents: Oregon got off to a shaky start despite strong preseason expectations, but they have rebounded and appear to be back on track. They have a nice stretch of games coming up in which they won't leave the state of Oregon for the month of December. That should give them an opportunity to get healthy and improve. Our guys may be catching this Ducks team at just the wrong moment, as they begin trending upward. For Alabama to win this game, they will have to play the best 40 minutes of basketball that they have in them. With the continued roster uncertainty, that may be too much to ask. In their previous game vs Savannah State, Oregon scored 128 points (70 in one half!). Regardless of the competition, that is impressive. Alabama allowed Texas to score 51 in the 2nd half last Friday so they'd better bring their defense or this one could get really ugly.
Players to Watch: The roster (mis)management has been one of the biggest disappointments through seven games this season. Last season, it was a strength for Avery and the staff as they seemingly determined a rotation and the allocation of roles rather quickly. This season, it has been a real puzzle for the staff to solve. Having a full compliment of scholarship players is great, unless you're unsure of the hierarchy. Based on Avery's comments (and Nick King's absence), expect continued shuffles in the starting line-up (Donta Hall could get the start on Sunday, based on Avery's comments) and bench rotation. The only reliable guys right now from a minutes standpoint appear to be Braxton, Dazon and Corban (and Avery Jr. has certainly played well enough in recent games to deserve a continued role). After that, it's a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Dillon Brooks is one of the best players in college basketball, and he is the unquestioned leader of this team. It's not a coincidence that Oregon struggled early this season while Brooks was out, healing from offseason surgery. His return has sparked the team, and he has to be the focal point of the scouting report. There are other guys on this Oregon team that can beat you, but limit the heart and soul of this team, and Bama might have a chance at the upset.
Prediction: This Alabama team needs a quality win, but this probably isn't the game they get it. I just don't see a path for Alabama to win this game, barring a crazy-hot shooting night or a complete off night by the Ducks themselves. Avery Johnson mentioned the players had a team meeting so I hope we see a focused Alabama team in this game as they try to iron out the challenges that have faced them so far. That might result in a respectable showing, but not a victory. Oregon - 71 - Alabama - 59