Friday, December 18, 2020

Game Preview: Alabama vs Western Kentucky

  Ugh...Rick Stansbury is coming back to Tuscaloosa. He’ll be bringing a talented team into Coleman tomorrow. Tip is set for 1:00 CT on ESPNU. 

 The Opponent : Western Kentucky comes into this matchup with a 5-2 record but they already have a couple of quality wins on the docket over Northern Iowa and Memphis. The aforementioned Rick Stansbury has “recruited “ well for the Hilltoppers and even managed to land the nation’s top recruit in 2018. More on him later. More importantly, his team plays hard for him more often than not. WKU comes into the matchup as #80 in KenPom. This will be yet another quality mid-major opponent for Alabama. 

 The Hilltoppers are strong in the paint and they rebound well. Having said that, it’s perplexing as to why they attempt so many threes. As a team, WKU barely scratches the 30% mark from behind the arc. Falling in love with the 3 has been WKU’s downfall in their losses. Let’s hope that trend continues. 

Players to watch: For WKU, there is no doubt about who the focus will be on. 6’10 C Charles Bassey has been a walking double double for Rick Stansbury and The Tide has had trouble defending the post at times. If Jordan Bruner were to end up in foul trouble, Bassey could feast tomorrow. On the other hand, Bruner could make Bassey chase him on the perimeter some and maybe keep Bassey winded while perhaps drawing some fouls on him to limit his minutes. 

 For the Tide, one could look towards numerous players that helped the team squeak out a close W over Furman. Juwan Gary played some big minutes and even reached double figures in the scoring column. Herbert Jones has straight up developed into a pro and the team doesn’t win without the heroic efforts of James Rojas (combined with Mouncy fouling out). I’m gonna go with Jahvon Quinerly though. The Jersey native probably had his worst game of the season Tuesday night with Herbert Jones taking the majority of minutes at the point.  Even to the point of having been called out to the media by the new mouth of the south-Nate Oats. I’m interested to see how JQ responds to the public criticism. The young man is no stranger to adversity and I expect Jahvon to have a big game if Bassey gets in some foul trouble and the driving lanes open up some. 

 My thoughts : Coach Oats stated in his press conference that he expected the Clemson game would be a wake up call for the team in terms of effort and energy, but it didn’t work out that way. His hope was that the first half of the Furman game was finally what was needed to drive the message home. I agree with Oats this time. I expect a complete performance from Alabama this weekend. I expect the Tide to have several runs that will be fueled by the 3. The pressure will then be placed on WKU to attempt to match Bama’s fast paced style...and that will be their downfall. 

Prediction: Alabama 75, Western Kentucky 59

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