Tide's Sexton no freshman slouch

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, February 23, 2018
Alabama guard Collin Sexton shakes hands with Alabama head coach Avery Johnson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Alabama guard Collin Sexton shakes hands with Alabama head coach Avery Johnson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Most mock NBA drafts rate freshmen Trae Young and Collin Sexton as the top two point guards. Both are projected to go in the first 12 picks.

The Arkansas Razorbacks already have played Young and Oklahoma. They'll face Sexton and Alabama on Saturday in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala.


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Arkansas men vs Alabama

WHEN 5 p.m. Central onSaturday

WHERE Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

RECORDS Arkansas 19-9, 8-7 SEC; Alabama 17-11, 8-7

SERIES Arkansas leads 32-28


RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Young had 28 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds when the Sooners played the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Nov. 23 in Portland, Ore., but the Razorbacks won 92-83.

Sexton, who is averaging 18.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists, beat Young and Oklahoma, too.

The Crimson Tide beat the Sooners 80-73 in Coleman Coliseum in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Jan 27. Sexton had 18 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists and Young had 17 points, 8 assists and 2 rebounds.

Sexton, 6-3, has scored more than 20 points in 11 games, including a high of 40 in Minnesota's 89-84 victory over Alabama when the Crimson Tide were down to three players in the final five minutes because of ejections.

"Collin is such a blur in transition," Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said. "He can be a one-man fast break. He's also worked hard to make more shots from the outside when people try to cut off his lanes to the basket.

"He's done a better job of finding his teammates, especially when he gets trapped. He's just got such a high ceiling.

"When you talk about draft projections, he's steadily rising up the rankings because of how outstanding of a player he is, and more important, just the way he plays with a ton of confidence and energy throughout the game."

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said Sexton is an exciting player.

"He's a guy that plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy," Anderson said. "He can do multiple things. He can really create for himself and he can create for others.

"He's a good defensive player as well. He's one of those guys that is a little leader. He's like an energizer for their basketball team."

Sexton is known primarily for his offense, but that's not the part of his game which impressed Vanderbilt Coach Bryce Drew the most when the Commodores beat the Tide 76-75 at Memorial Gym.

"First, he defends," Drew said. "A lot of freshmen have a hard time really buying into guarding, but he aggressively picks the ball up and has a desire to defend."

Sexton had 24 points, 5 assists and 3 steals against Vanderbilt.

"As a freshman I think it's hard to make the jump to college," Drew said. "I think it's even more difficult for a point guard because you have to make so many decisions and so many reads. You control the pace and the flow of the game, and your mistakes as a point guard usually stand out more.

"So I think Collin's done a great job. He's handled a lot of the media, the pressure, the expectations. I just love how hard he plays.

"I think he plays with such passion, and you can see him improving as the year has gone on."

Sexton had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in Alabama's 68-60 victory over Florida.

"Collin Sexton is as talented a player a there is in college basketball," Gators Coach Mike White said. "He's a track athlete with ball skills and the ability to score. He's extremely explosive and he's a high level competitor."

Sexton helped Alabama sweep LSU, scoring 15 points in each of those victories -- 74-66 on the road and 80-65 at home.

"His team feeds off his competitiveness, and that's a quality you want in a point guard," LSU Coach Will Wade said. "How hard he competes I think just rubs off on his team."

Alabama ended No. 19 Tennessee's winning streak at six games when the Tide beat the Vols 78-50. Sexton had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and hit 6 of 10 shots.

"He's a guy that can get to the rim and plays downhill really well," Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said. "If you give him space, he's really good at pulling up you.

"He's a guy that's willing to go and make a big play. Take a big shot, make a big pass, do what he needs to do to help his team win."

Sexton put up big numbers at Auburn on Wednesday night, but the No. 12 Tigers won 90-71 despite his 25 points and hitting 8 of 12 shots and 7 of 8 free throws.

"He's great in the open floor," Anderson said. "He's very athletic. He can finish left, right. Very, very quick.

"He's got really great vision in terms of setting other people up. He's a guy that we certainly have got to get the ball out of his hands and try to make other guys make plays.

"He's capable of just taking over a game by himself."

Sports on 02/23/2018


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