ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Kentucky guards Hamidou Diallo and Quade Green sat a few lockers apart, listening to the line of questioning, knowing what was coming.
“Collin, right?” Diallo asked in Green’s direction. “We ain’t worried about him. We worried about Kentucky.”
Of course Diallo was referring to star Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. And the question was simple, but not easily solved (just ask Texas A&M and Auburn).
How do you stop him?
“You’ve just gotta match his energy really,” Green said. “That’s all I can say.”
So is Diallo really not worried about Sexton? “We’re worried about Kentucky basketball,” he said. “I mean yeah, he’s a great player. He has a great skill set.”
Sexton has been the darling of the 2018 SEC Tournament. The freshman future first-rounder finger rolled in an improbable shot at the buzzer in Alabama’s 71-70 win against Texas A&M on Thursday — a shot the Crimson Tide needed to solidify an NCAA Tournament berth.
Sexton finished with 27 points and 5 assists against the Aggies. Then a night later, on Friday, he bounced rival and No. 1 seed Auburn from the SEC Tournament. Sexton and the Tide made easy work against the Tigers, especially Sexton with 31 points on 10 of 16 shooting and a 6 of 8 mark from behind the arc.
“That’s Collin,” Green said. “I knew him all my high school career. He been putting in work, so that’s all I know.”
With Alabama’s 81-63 win against Auburn and Kentucky’s 62-49 win against Georgia, Sexton and UK’s slew of freshmen will meet at 1 p.m. ET Saturday in the SEC Tournament semifinals.
Green and Diallo might get their chances at defending Sexton, but expect freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to handle a bulk of the assignment.
Kentucky held Sexton to 12 points on 4 of 11 shooting in the Wildcats’ 81-71 win against the Crimson Tide on Feb. 17.
“I think we did a good job of corralling him and making him play in tight spaces,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We always have to build a wall in transition. He’s really good at getting a head of steam and we have to build a wall and protect the paint.”
Sexton was known on the AAU circuit as an excessive trash talker, a battle of words Diallo and Green are welcoming.
“I’m a trash talker too, so we all gonna be talkin trash,” Green said.