1. Tide Tough To Figure
Alabama (16-10, 7-7 SEC) has been one of the most interesting teams in the conference this season. On the cusp of NCAA Tournament consideration, the Tide reeled off five consecutive wins -- including a home win over Texas A&M and impressive road wins at Florida and LSU -- before inexplicably losing its most recent game 67-61 at home to Mississippi State. That loss may have knocked Bama off the bubble, but Avery Johnson's club knows a win over No. 16 Kentucky (20-7, 10-4) could instantly put them back in the conversation if they can close out the regular season on a high note and make a good run in the SEC Tournament. Although the Tide has won only six times in 29 trips to Rupp Arena over the years, its profile suggests this team could legitimately challenge the Cats. Bama has more Top 25 wins (4) than any other team in the league. The Tide also owns a close 72-68 loss to No. 13 Oregon.
2. Bama Features One of SEC's Best
Alabama's Retin Obasohan has developed into one of the most dynamic players in the SEC over the last two years. The powerfully built 6-foot-2 senior guard is averaging 19.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game in league play. He led the Tide with 21 points in the first matchup with Kentucky this season and should once again prove to be a tough matchup for the Cats. Look for freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe, who UK coach John Calipari calls the best defensive guard in the country, to draw the initial assignment on Obasohan, but the Cats may need to rotate Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray on him from time to time. Foul trouble has been an issue at times for UK this season, so it will be interesting to see if Obasohan can put pressure on the Cats' backcourt.
3. Who's Going To Fill Their Shoes?
Kentucky may be down two important players in this matchup: senior forward Alex Poythress and junior forward Derek Willis. Poythress has missed five consecutive games with swelling and soreness in a knee, while Willis had to leave Saturday's game against Texas A&M with a severe ankle sprain. Poythress, who had a game-high 25 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the first meeting with Alabama, returned to practice on Monday and may be on the verge of playing again, but it appears that Willis will be out for a considerable amount of time. That's a huge blow for UK as Calipari has credited Willis' "stretch 4" skills to change the entire offensive dynamic of the Cats. Kentucky will likely need another big performance from freshman center Isaac Humphries, who had a career-high 12 rebounds on Saturday at Texas A&M before his infamous celebratory ball spike with 9.4 seconds left in overtime led to a technical foul and may have cost the Cats a victory. No doubt he'll be playing with some extra motivation in this one. Freshmen Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews could also see more action, or Calipari could elect to go smaller with junior guard Dominique Hawkins.