Collin Sexton, Trae Young stand at the center of Alabama-Oklahoma matchupBy Matthew Speakman | 01/27/2018 9:57am
Collin Sexton is a projected lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
NBA scouts have been waiting all season for this one.
Alabama freshman point guard Collin Sexton will go head-to-head with Oklahoma point guard Trae Young when the Sooners roll into Coleman Coliseum today. More than 50 scouts from the NBA will be attendance.
Both guards are projected to go in the top 10 of the NBA Draft this summer.
“Collin’s going to be ready,” Young told Andy Katz of the NCAA. “He’s a competitor. I know Collin really well, and he’s a really good player. It’s going to be a good game.”
Young has taken the NCAA by storm this season. He leads the nation in scoring at 30.3 points per game and assists at 9.6 per game. Earlier this season, he tied the NCAA single-game record with 22 assists this season. In that same game, he scored 26 points.
All year, Young has been unconscious on the offensive end.
“Trae Young is an outstanding young player,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “Very dynamic. He passes it, he shoots it. He gets the high assists. Just really knows how to play the position.”
His opponent, Sexton, hasn’t been bad either.
This season, Sexton averages a team-high 18.5 points per game, as well as 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Recently, he’s battled an abdominal injury that made him miss Alabama’s wins over Auburn and Mississippi State.
He returned against Ole Miss and played 20 minutes. He struggled, but Johnson said Sexton continues to get back to full strength.
“Collin has increased his workload, really hasn’t had any setbacks after the Ole Miss game,” Johnson said.
All things considered, it won’t be a game of one-on-one when Alabama and Oklahoma play. Outside of Young, the Sooners field quite the supporting cast. It’s a big reason why Oklahoma has four wins over the top 10.
Alabama has taken notice of the players around Young.
“Trae Young’s a good player, but their team’s great, also,” junior forward Donta Hall said. “He’s got help around him. Honestly, we’ve just got to go out and do what we’ve got to do. He’s a terrific 3-point shooter, finishes at the rim, finds his teammates.”
Most of the time, Young’s three-point range forces defenders to play tight on him, which allows him to blow by that defenders. That draws players to him, where he can find his teammates for open shots.
Oklahoma averages 10.9 three-pointers per game. Alabama wants to stop them from getting open looks.
“They’re pretty much, like, catch-and-shoot guys, so we’ve got to be ready to contest the three or take them off the 3-point line,” freshman forward Herbert Jones said.
Alabama and Oklahoma will face off at 1:15 p.m. CT on ESPN as apart of the Big 12 vs. SEC challenge. Oklahoma is the third top-10 RPI team Alabama will face this season at home. So far, Alabama is 2-0.
Oklahoma is a different beast, Alabama knows how much of a threat they are on the offensive end.
“This is a very efficient offensive team,” Johnson said. “Hands down the best offensive team that we’ve faced this year. Probably in my two and a half years since I’ve been here.”