As we head into the late afternoon slate of games, the SEC and Big 12 find themselves tied up in the 2022 edition of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, with the home teams holding serve in each of the first four games of the day. Can Alabama keep that going as the Tide plays host to the defending national champions?
More importantly, can the Tide finally break out of this rut that they have found themselves in recently? Alabama has been playing up-and-down to the level of their competition all season, so I guess the top-five Bears coming into town makes it more likely that Alabama wins? Maybe? Either way, the Tide will have to play much more like their early December form if they want a shot at a victory today.
Juwan Gary is back this afternoon, and will be sporting a mask in order to protect his face after taking a nasty blow to it against LSU a few games ago. The Tide has lacked his physicality and ability to defend and hit the boards the previous couple of games. Nate Oats has decided to switch up his starting rotation yet again today, reinserting Jahvon Quinerly - who Alabama desperately needs to get going - back into the opening unit:
#BamaFirstFive pic.twitter.com/oS96W5ohdQ— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) January 29, 2022
The Tide is also going with two bigs to start - assuredly because of the lack of interior defense and defensive rebounding that has plagued the Tide this season. Baylor will have starting point guard James Akinjo available today as well, so the Bears will be at full strength.
Huge opportunity here to right the ship for Alabama. Can the Tide pull off the upset? The game tips at 3:00 PM CST and will be televised on ESPN.