Friday, December 02, 2016

Game Preview - at Texas

Alabama will play their first true road game of the season tonight in Austin vs the Texas Longhorns. The game will tip off at 8:30 PM. The game will be televised on ESPNU. This will be the 12th meeting between the schools. Texas holds a 7-4 edge. I'm looking forward to taking in the game with DJC. Hopefully we will see our guys pull out a win.

Stats

Alabama                                                Texas


69.5 PPG 69.3
60 OPP 66.8
42.4 FG% 42.7
40.6 OPP 39.6
50 EFG% 47.6
47.2 OPP 44.9
36 3PT% 26.2
36.7 OPP 28.2
65.9 FT% 63.2
65.5 OPP 74.4
41.2 FTRATE 38.1
37.3 OPP 21.6
36.3 RPG 37.5
33.8 OPP 39.2
29.6 OREB% 28
24.9 OPP 32.2
12.3 TOPG 12
17.2 OPP 12.7
18.3 TO% 17.2
25.4 OPP 18.1
71 KenPom Ranking 70

My Two Cents: If the stats are any indication, this will be a close game. And close games on the road can be tricky affairs, especially when you factor in a home crowd and the way the game is typically officiated. Texas enters this game having lost three straight by a combined 44 points (that's not good, in case you're wondering). They don't have a true point guard, which has likely contributed to an average of 10.5 assists vs 12 turnovers per game. They're struggling shooting the ball, particularly from the three point line. Both teams are solid on the defensive end, but could be better based on the talent on paper. Both teams need a quality win so I expect both teams to come out ready to play.

Players to Watch: Braxton Key and Dazon Ingram have emerged early as the top two players for this team so they need to play well. But the key for this team, based on what we've seen so far, is what random guy for Bama will step up to make a difference in the game? The depth and balance of this team is nice, but I believe that the allocation of roles must emerge sooner rather than later if this Bama team is going to hit its ceiling. This game could go a long way towards identifying that 3rd or 4th guy for this team.

Like Avery Johnson, Shaka Smart is also searching for the right combination of players that gives them the best chance to win. It remains unclear who the leader of this Texas team is. Tevin Mack and Kerwin Roach, Jr. are leading the Longhorns in scoring, but I believe Texas' best path to victory will be their size in the post. Jarrett Allen is 6'11, 235. He leads the team in rebounding (7.8) and is third in scoring (10.5). Shaq Cleare is 6'8, 275. He's more of a role player for this team, but his size and power in the post will be a problem for an Alabama frontline that hasn't reacted well in recent years when faced with a physical opponent.

Prediction: I really think Alabama has a chance to come into Austin and leave with the victory. Shaka Smart is really good, and I believe this Texas team will improve as the season unfolds. By March, this could be a really nice resume win if Alabama can take care of business. Unfortunately, I'm just not sold on this Alabama team as it currently stands to predict a road victory against a team with comparable (or better) talent and coaching. It won't surprise me if our guys win, but I think they fall short. Texas - 70 - Alabama - 65.  

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