Who: Alabama (7-3) vs. Florida (5-1)
When: 6 pm CT, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.
Where: Coleman Coliseum; Tuscaloosa, AL.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
On Tuesday night, Alabama and Florida will be playing for sole possession of 1st place in the SEC. Both teams are undefeated in league play and look like NCAA tournament contenders, but there are still a lot of games to be played. Alabama comes in off of their best win of the season (and best win of the Oats era) with an eight point victory over 7th-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville. The Tide came out with energy, played well defensively, and got hot from three in the second half, shooting 50% from beyond the arc throughout the game. Alabama is hard to beat when things are clicking that well. Florida is also a very solid team and hard to beat. Their only loss of the season came on the road against a ranked Florida State team where they lost the heart of their team, Keyontae Johnson, for the season. Even without their star player, they have continued to show improvement winning their first 2 SEC games. The Gators are the best team in the SEC offensively. They come into this game shooting 50.6% overall (13th in the country according to TeamRankings) and 36.2% from deep (86th) while scoring 82.8 PPG (20th). However, they do not take as many threes as Alabama does, taking 19.3 per game compared to Bama’s 29.9. The Florida defense is also solid as they hold their opponents to only 39.3% from the field. The one area their opponents succeed the most, though, is from the 3-point line (36% from 3). This is an area Alabama will need to capitalize if in order to win this game and get a quality win over a team with a top 25 NET ranking. Florida also averages almost 6 blocks per game and 8 steals per game causing opponents to turn the ball over a lot. Alabama must take care of the ball and take advantage of every possession. Offensively, Alabama has finally come out of their shooting slump right as SEC play began. The numbers for the season are not as great as last year, but they will continue to improve as the season goes on. The key for this game is not something that takes place on the court. The key for Alabama is where they are going to be mentally heading into this game. Will they be satisfied with just beating Tennessee and come out flat against the Gators like has happened in years past? Or will this program be able to start 3-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1987? Alabama has been in the position in the past and left disappointed. Things seem different this year, but Bama needs to produce consistent results before one can confidently pick Alabama to win back to back games against quality opponents in the SEC. This will be their chance to show everyone this year’s team is different.
Florida Players to Watch:
G Tre Mann (15.2 PPG, 4 APG, 5.5 RPG)
G Noah Locke (9.7 PPG, 0.5 APG, 2 RPG)
F Colin Castleton (11.7 PPG, 0.3 APG, 4.8 RPG)
G Tyree Appleby (7.3 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2 RPG)
G Scottie Lewis (14 PPG, 2.5 APG, 5.2 RPG)
Alabama is coming off of their biggest win in years and are still learning to play together and learning what their roles are. The team has not had a consistent lineup this season, but it is getting easier to see who the most dependable players are and who needs to be out there in crunch time. Much depends on their mindset heading into this game. If Alabama comes out just a little flat on Tuesday night, the shots will not fall like they did in the second half of the Tennessee game, and Alabama will come up just short against a very good Florida team.
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