Across the (By)Line: Alabama Crimson Tide


Kentucky Wildcats forward Keion Brooks Jr. (12) shoots the ball as he is fouled during the UK vs. Kansas basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. UK won 80-62. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

The “Across the (By)Line” series will give Kentucky basketball fans an in-depth look at their opponent for this week — from the mind of the opposing school’s sports editor.

This week: Austin Hannon, The Crimson White, University of Alabama

What do you make of Alabama’s up and down season thus far?

Hannon: It really has been a mystery so far. Nate Oats said if he had an explanation for why we beat Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor, Tennessee, Florida, all these teams that are pretty good on schedule, then you lose to Georgia, Missouri … a couple others like that, he said he doesn’t really have an explanation, other than obviously the team is playing to its competition, up and down. Oats also thinks that they might be selective with the effort that they give on a nightly basis, depending on who they’re playing. It has really been confusing though, for sure.

How do you see Alabama trying to handle Oscar Tshiebwe down low on Saturday?

Hannon: Any guy like [Tshiebwe] is a huge problem for Alabama. He is only 6-foot-9 but he’s solid rock; he is a strong, physical body in there. Let’s be honest, he’s not the most talented basketball player ever, but he gives so much effort, and it shows in his stat line every night. Alabama has Charles Bediako down there, who normally plays the five. He hasn’t really filled in his body, he’s 7-foot-1 but I think he weighs 220, so that’s not a great matchup. I think Juwon Gary, who’s kind of a similar body form as Oscar is, if he can stay out of foul trouble and stay in the game he could help. Oscar’s gonna get his rebounds, most likely going to get at least 10 every game, but if you can limit him to not getting 20, 25, 28 [rebounds], you may have a chance.

Does this game feel like a must-win for Alabama?

Hannon: I don’t think it’s a must-win because I think Alabama has put together a pretty good résumé already. But, since they got screwed over into having to play Kentucky twice, knowing that they’re going to have to go to Rupp Arena, I think kind of like the Auburn game last time, Alabama plays them twice this year, it would have been nice to win the home matchup, so I think that applies. I don’t think it’s a must-win in terms of the season as a whole.

To you, what is the most intriguing matchup between the two teams? Is it TyTy Washington versus Jaden Shackelford?

Hannon: I think the guard matchups should be really fun. Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Shackelford have been getting it going here recently again, and you mentioned TyTy Washington. You’ve got Sahvir Wheeler from Georgia, who’s been pretty good for UK this year, so I think there’s a lot of experience in a couple of those guys and some of them are pretty young, so it should be exciting to see them go at it.

What does Alabama need to do to win in your eyes? What is your score prediction?

Hannon: I think it comes down to effort, completely. Because we know this Alabama team has so much talent and they can beat the big dogs, they can beat the big teams, we’ve seen it, they beat the national champions [Baylor] on Saturday and led basically the whole way. They went into Seattle and beat Gonzaga, this is a team that can win big games and they’ve shown that. I just think, they have to bring it, the crowd has to bring it, its got to be a good environment. If all that goes well I think Alabama could absolutely beat Kentucky on their home floor, they just have to bring the good Alabama to the game. Personally, I think there’s a good chance that they get it done, I’m going to say Alabama wins 81-76.