Well, what a week it has been. At this time last Tuesday, the Alabama Crimson Tide were getting ready for a sneaky good UT-Arlington team before heading up to Brooklyn for a pair of big non-conference games with a shiny, new #25 ranking attached. Flash forward to a week later, and the now 24th-ranked Crimson Tide are looking to get back in the win column after dropping an 89-84 3v5 match-up with the now 12th-ranked Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The hilarity of that crazy game has been reviewed a countless number of times, but it really can't be over-stated how incredible it was.
Get this, while one of the most highly-anticipated Iron Bowls of all-time was going on, the eyes of the college basketball world were glued to their computer screens watching (on Facebook, of all places) Collin Sexton drop 40 points and nearly will his team to victory over a legitimate top-15 opponent, with only two other players in Crimson and White available. It was honestly one of the greatest sporting events of 2017. Sexton was incredible in that performance, constantly making ridiculous shots while being double-teamed. I can't stress this game and his performance enough. It was amazing. It honestly felt like Alabama had won when the game ended.
Now, it's time to get back to some normalcy. Alabama welcomes in an undefeated, 5-0, Louisiana Tech squad to Tuscaloosa Wednesday night. Hopefully, the Tide can play actual 5v5 basketball the whole game.
- POINT 5'11 DaQuan Bracey (14.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG)
- GUARD 6'4 Jalen Harris (17.0 PPG, 2.4 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG)
- WING 6'6 Jacobi Boykins (14.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.0 SPG)
- WING 6'8 Jy'lan Washington (4.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.8 SPG)
- POST 7'0 Joniah White (4.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG)
In coach Eric Konkol's third year in Ruston, LA, the Bulldogs have gotten off to a strong start. However, they will be in for quite the wake-up call in Coleman Coliseum tonight. Tech's wins thus far this season: Tyler University, Southeast Missouri State, Montana State, George Mason, and most recently, a 63-61 win over Evansville. Sexton and Avery Johnson Jr. will have yet another match-up with a very good point guard in Bracey, though he gets most of his production from volume. He's shooting 52.0% from the field, but only 30.8% from three-point land and 66.7% from the line. His biggest asset is his ability to run the offense, as he boasts a 32.0% AST% and 5:2 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Harris and Boykins are the two guys he's usually looking for. Both are shooting the ball well this year (Harris: 45.6%/43.5%/76.7%, Boykins: 43.1%/35.1%/82.4%). Boykins has also been strong on the glass with a 13.8% REB% from the wing. Washington and White are mostly starters because of their size, though Washington can stretch the floor a little bit with his jump-shot. White is your typical mid-major seven-footer. He commands attention because of his size, but with a 37.5% FG% and 11.0% REB%, he's just not a great basketball player.
- GUARD 6'2 Derric Jean (11.6 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG)
- GUARD 6'4 Exavian Christon (1.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG)
- WING 6'7 Anthony Duruji (3.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
- POST 6'8 Oliver Powell (7.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
Louisiana Tech's bench is a bit more productive than most smaller conference teams. Jean is a prototypical sixth man, he comes off the bench, knocks down shots (60.0%/43.8%/60.0%), and plays a little defense. Powell is the main guy who rotates in down low, and he's quite a bit more effective offensively than White (53.8% FG%). Duruji is capable of stretching the floor from the wing (50.0% 3P%).
Three Keys To Victory
- Defensive Guard Play. Together, Bracey, Harris, Boykins, and Jean account for about 28 of the 53 field goals attempted per game for the Bulldogs. They like to put up all of the shots. So it's simple: limit these four in the back-court and they are not very likely to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa tonight.
- Dominate the Boards. There really is no reason why Alabama shoudn't have a massive advantage on the glass tonight. Tech has been awful at rebounding this season against much smaller, way less athletic opponents. If the Tide screw around and let the Bulldogs keep the rebounding margin close, this game could get hairy.
- Mental Focus. Louisiana Tech is a solid team. They were picked 3rd in Conference USA and are undefeated for a reason. But they really shouldn't hold a candle to Alabama. The events of this past weekened were pretty chaotic, so there could be some real jetlag for the Tide Wednesday night, especially for such a young team.
Alabama has another solid test as they try to get back to some normalcy after a crazy week. Louisiana Tech hasn't fallen off much since Mike White left for greener pastures in Gainesville. However, the Tide are simply bigger, faster, more athletic, and more talented than the Bulldogs. This game will certainly be competitive, but the Tide should roll.
Keep an eye on John Petty's injury status, after a scare on Saturday it turns out his ankle was merely sprained and he is listed as a game-time decision. Avery Johnson recently mentioned that Braxton Key is progressing well, so hopefully neither will miss much time moving forward.
The game will tip-off at 7:00 PM CST and will not be televised again. SEC Network+ only. Stream, tune into your local radio, or hey, come on down to Tuscaloosa. There shouldn't be many more games left on the schedule without television coverage.