The No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2018 edition of the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, and all eyes will be focused squarely on the matchup between Trae Young and Collin Sexton. That obviously includes the the eyes of NBA Scouts.
According to Alabama Media Relations, they have credentialed 55 scouts representing 25 NBA teams for tomorrow’s OU-Bama game in Tuscaloosa.— Toby Rowland (@TRowOU) January 27, 2018
If not for Young, Sexton would easily be considered the nation’s top freshman PG. The former No. 5 overall recruit is about as athletic as they come at the point guard position and will pose a serious challenge on Saturday.
Oklahoma (15-4, 5-3) at Alabama (13-7, 5-3): 1:15 p.m. CT in at Coleman Coliseum (15,383)
Commentary: Rich Hollenberg, Fran Fraschilla and Laura Rutledge
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)
Line: Oklahoma -1.5 as of 10:20 a.m. CT
- The Crimson Tide carries a record of 13-7 heading into Saturday’s contest with its best win coming against then-No. 17 Auburn on Jan. 17.
- Bama is led by freshman PG Collin Sexton, who is averaging 18.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 3.4 APG on the season. Early in the season, Sexton nearly beat Minnesota with only two teammates out on the floor with him.
- The program is led by Avery Johnson, who is in his third season in Tuscaloosa following a decorated career as an NBA player, coach and broadcaster.
- Three players other than Sexton — John Petty (11.9), Dazon Ingram (11.1) and Donta Hall (10.1) — are averaging double figures scoring this season. Hall also leads the team in rebounding at 6.9 per contest.
- Alabama is 58th by KenPom’s rankings, coming in at 97th in adjusted offense, 39th in adjusted defense and 102nd in adjusted tempo.
- Sticking with the winning formula - Lon Kruger stressed efficiency to Trae Young prior to Tuesday’s win over Kansas, and it worked like a charm. However, it’ll be important for Young to stick with the formula even if things don’t start out as planned. Yes, we would like to see him take more than nine shots, but we also don’t want him to go into hero mode. He needs to continue to trust his teammates even if they struggle early.
- Jamuni McNeace - Oklahoma’s reserve center was limited to 14 minutes (bringing his average down to 16.2) against Kansas due to a bum ankle. He didn’t seem to have quite the same bounce (with the exception of a couple of spectacular plays) so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not he’s at full strength. He protects the rim as well as anyone in the Big 12 and has a huge impact on an opponent’s shot selection when he’s at full strength.
- Defending Sexton - Sexton is great at getting by his defender and getting to the bucket, so I’m interested to see what Lon Kruger chooses to do there. He likes to avoid putting Young in difficult situations early on to keep him out of foul trouble, so Lon may find ways to match Sexton with someone like Rashard Odomes.
Big 12/SEC Challenge
Texas Tech at South Carolina - 11 a.m. ET (ESPN2)
Baylor at Florida - 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Ole Miss at Texas - 1 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Georgia at Kansas State - 1 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Oklahoma at Alabama - 1:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Tennessee at Iowa State - 3 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
TCU at Vanderbilt - 3 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Texas A&M at Kansas - 3:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Oklahoma State at Arkansas - 5:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Kentucky at West Virginia - 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)
I think Sexton will likely give Oklahoma some serious trouble out on the perimeter, but I’m not confident in his supporting cast’s ability to make OU truly pay for focusing on him.
Oklahoma 87, Alabama 79
Big 12 6, SEC 4