Scouting report: Alabama Crimson Tide


Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton celebrates during the game against Auburn in the SEC tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 9, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Alabama won 81-63. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

AJ Harris

For the second time this season, UK men’s basketball (22-10, 10-8) will face Alabama (19-14, 8-10), this time for a chance to advance to the SEC Tournament championship game.

This will be the first semifinal game of the day on Saturday, with tipoff scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. 

In UK’s previous matchup with Alabama on Feb. 17, forward P.J. Washington led all scoring with 16 points as the Cats defeated the Crimson Tide 81-71. Junior forward Donta Hall led the Crimson Tide with 16 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Head Coach: Avery Johnson (third season at Alabama)

Likely Starters: Collin Sexton (Freshman, G, 6-3, 190 lbs.)

Dazon Ingram (Sophomore, G, 6-5, 207 lbs.)

Herbert Jones (Freshman, F, 6-7, 200 lbs.)

Braxton Key (Sophomore, F, 6-8, 225 lbs.)

Galin Smith (Freshman, F, 6-9, 235 lbs.)

Players to Watch

Alabama is a good team that runs a balanced offense, but for the Crimson Tide to advance to the championship, Sexton will likely need to have another big game. Sexton totaled 31 points, seven rebounds and one assist in his team’s upset win over No. 1 seeded Auburn in the quarterfinals. On the season, Sexton averages 19 points, 3.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The Crimson Tide might be without Hall, one of their usual starters. Hall took a hard fall with 6:41 remaining in Alabama’s quarterfinal game, and didn’t return.

“No idea whatsoever. I’ll meet with the doctors and meet with him and check him out when we get back in the back,” Johnson said after the game of Hall’s status.

Alabama in the SEC

This season, the Crimson Tide went 17-14 in the regular season and finished 8-10 in conference play. Alabama started SEC play 8-5 before dropping their final five games of the season. Alabama is looking for their first SEC Tournament title since winning three straight in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

Versus Kentucky

UK leads the all-time series against Alabama 111-37, and in the SEC Tournament, UK leads 15‐2, including 6-0 in the semifinals. The last time UK lost to Alabama was in 2013 when the Crimson Tide defeated the Cats 59-55 in Tuscaloosa. UK met Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals last year, with the Cats coming out on top 79-74.

Keys to the Game

UK’s team is big, so simply defending with physicality is key for the Crimson Tide. If Alabama wants to advance, they have to play physical and defend UK’s three-point shooters, who made five of 17 threes against Georgia.

They will also need to protect the paint, where UK got 38 of their 62 points in their quarterfinal matchup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was able to get to the rim many times while Washington did his fair share of damage in the post.

For Kentucky, limiting Sexton will be key. UK held him to 12 points in the previous matchup, but Sexton is playing much better since that game in mid-February.

The Cats did a good job limiting Georgia’s star player Yante Maten to just nine points, but Sexton presents a completely different skillset that could be difficult to manage if Sexton gets going early.