Both teams started the season ranked in the Top 25, but Arizona fell out after three losses in the Bahamas, while Alabama fell out after losing to UCF.
To learn more about the Crimson Tide, we asked our friend JDC from BamaHoops.com for some insight.
Here is our Q&A.
What are Alabama’s strengths and weaknesses?
Aside from Collin Sexton being able to do just about everything, our post play has been surprisingly strong. Unlike our teams in recent years, we also have several guys capable of shooting from the perimeter. This is one of the best offensive teams we've had in a long time.
Conversely, our weaknesses are defense, turnovers, and free throws. We struggle with communication and switching in our man-to-man defense, and the star freshmen tend to lose focus on that end of the court at times.
As a very young team, we don't value the basketball and play out of control at times. Our free throw shooting is embarrassingly bad at times.
What type of basketball does Alabama play? Does it play zone?
We play mostly man but Coach (Avery) Johnson does a good job of mixing it up, and you will see a few full-court man-to-man and 2-2-1 presses. We have actually been more effective in the 2-3 zone due to the aforementioned issues with switching on screens.
What is the most impressive thing about Collin Sexton's game?
His quickness. It's impossible to stay in front of him and prevent him from getting to the rim, so he draws a lot of fouls and creates a lot of open looks for his teammates.
Is there anything opponents have done that has slowed him down?
He didn't score from the floor against UCF. They played him very physical. If he gets beat up a bit and doesn't get the benefit of a few calls, he can get frustrated.
Aside from Sexton, who are two other players Arizona fans should know about?
You asked for two, but I'm going to give you four.
Donta Hall is our veteran center who is much-improved and has put up several double-doubles. He runs the floor extremely well, does a great job of defending the rim, and shoots a ridiculous percentage from the floor, mainly because he's able to get so many dunks.He's had a coming-out season of sorts so far.
Dazon Ingram is a versatile veteran who is taking on more of a leadership role. He initiated a players-only meeting after the UCF loss. He's battled injuries throughout his career, and went from being the starting point guard to playing the 3 and even the 4 at times. He has a great combination of size and speed and is hard to stop on the dribble drive.
Braxton Key was our leading-scorer last year, but has been out with an injury, and is a game-time decision Saturday. I suspect he will be a little rusty, but he will be the starting 4 when he's 100 percent.
While Sexton gets all the attention, John Petty is another very highly-rated freshman. The sky is the limit for him and he has a beautiful jump shot, he made 10 threes in a game, but has also struggled defensively and with turnovers. If he settles down he's another potential NBA caliber talent.
Okay, one more, Herbert Jones, another freshman who is one of the first guys off the bench and a fantastic defender and athlete. He's nearly set a school record for charges taken in a season, and we're only in December.
What are Alabama fans' overall impression of new athletic director Greg Byrne?
As a rare basketball-first Alabama fan, I was super excited to get him from a basketball school (no offense to your football program). So far the general consensus is that he's done a great job. I was privy to some information on how he handled the FBI situation, and I was very impressed. He's been at nearly every basketball game, and I even saw him at our Memphis game in Annapolis, Maryland.
Previous athletic directors didn't even go to every home game and would only show up and a few road games per year, so I'm encouraged by his apparent dedication to hoops.
What does Alabama have to do to win this game?
Get in transition on offense, make a high percentage of our perimeter shots, and take care of the basketball. In order to do all of those things, the freshmen will have to keep their composure and not give up any huge runs. It will be the first true college road game for most of our team — talk about being thrown to the wolves!
Too good of a team in too tough of an environment for our young team. We will keep it respectable, but Arizona 85, Bama 77.
Best of luck to you guys, I'm hoping for a good game and looking forward to my first visit to Tucson (assuming I get there. We are dealing with snow here in Birmingham on Friday).
Thanks again to JDC for answering our questions! Their Q&A with us about Arizona can be found here. Be sure to check it out.