|BYU will have hands full with No. 25 Alabama|
Alabama freshman sensation Collin Sexton by himself is enough to keep BYU coach Dave Rose up at night devising a way to slow down the phenom.
Toss in the idea that Rose is experiencing second thoughts about having his Cougars participate in the Barclays Center Classic this weekend, and a recipe for disaster could be brewing for BYU.
The Cougars will have their hands full when BYU and No. 25 Alabama collide Friday at the Steinberg Wellness Center at LIU-Brooklyn. BYU and Massachusetts meet on Saturday.
Originally scheduled to be played at the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets, the game had to be moved because of a scheduling conflict, and Rose let his unhappiness be known.
"It just happened about four weeks ago, five weeks ago, we found out," Rose told the Salt Lake Tribune this week. "Not a very good explanation from the promoter, but we are stuck. ... Obviously we wouldn't have signed up for this thing if we would have known we were going to play the Barclays Classic at LIU. It hasn't turned out like we really thought it would."
Rose and his Cougars best put the controversy behind them quickly otherwise Alabama might just run them out of the 2,500-seat LIU gym. And the Crimson Tide have the firepower to do just that as they average more than 87 points per game.
Alabama is a perfect 4-0 after defeating a seasoned UT-Arlington team 77-76 on Tuesday. Sexton scored 29 points to lead Alabama.
If the Cougars stand a chance to upset the Crimson Tide, Sexton will have to be contained, because after three games in his college career, no one has been able to stop the former McDonald's High School All-American.
Sexton is averaging 25.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game. He is making 63 percent of his field-goal attempts and 46 percent of his 3-point tries. If there is a flaw, Sexton is only connecting on 63 percent of his free-throw attempts.
In the win against Arlington, Sexton's defensive chops were on display at the end of the game when he defended Erick Neal on the final shot at the buzzer.
"I was ready for the challenge," Sexton told AL.com. "In practice, we go over a whole lot of defensive plays. Coach calls it the alley. And if you turn him more than four or five times, that's a good possession. I turned him a few times, and I got him to shoot a tough shot."
Many believe Sexton will be a "one-and-done" and be playing in the NBA next year at this time.
The Crimson Tide have another talented freshman in the backcourt, John Petty. The 6-foot-5 Alabama native is averaging 15.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Rose knows firsthand just how difficult it is to beat UT-Arlington. The Mavericks went into Provo to play the Cougars and waltzed away with a 14-point victory on Saturday.
After a two-year absence, Rose has a daunting task trying to get the Cougars back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars are 3-1 after defeating Niagara on Tuesday. Elijah Bryant led BYU with 22 points, but the Cougars did allow the Purple Eagles' Matt Scott to torch them for 36 points.
Bryant came off the bench and played a pivotal role.
"He is one of our captains and one of our most experienced guys. So, enough said," Rose told the Salt Lake Tribune after the Niagara game. "He's a good player, and we need him. We need him on the floor. We will see how his foot responds after this game because it is pretty sore."
The win helped return some of the swagger and improve the Cougars' confidence.
"We made those adjustments from this last game until now, and I think those things are going to carry over to this (Alabama) game," junior forward Luke Worthington said.