Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide turns a corner but new challenge ahead

(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images) /

Alabama basketball bounced back in a big way against Mississippi State. Nate Oats’ team is getting better but the next pair of games offer tough challenges.

Alabama basketball improved to 8-6 Wednesday night with a double-digit win over Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide out-shot and out-rebounded a good Mississippi State team. The Bulldogs are a physical team with two future NBA players in Nick Weatherspoon and 6-foot-10, 255 pounds, Reggie Perry.

The current Alabama basketball roster is better suited to combating speed and quickness. Perry’s size was something of a mismatch. What helps the Tide in such situations is Nate Oats’ pace of play. Size can be negated when a team excels at ‘three’ and ‘frees.’

The Crimson Tide shot 42 percent from outside the arc against the Bulldogs. Do that, don’t turn the ball over and out-rebound your opponent and it is hard to lose. The only way to lose with those advantages is at the foul line.

Nate Oats’ team got all those ingredients right Wednesday night. To go along with the hot deep shooting, the Tide out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 42-38. The Crimson Tide shot 13 more free throws than State and made them at a better clip – 71 percent for the team. The best stat of the night was not scoring 90 points or winning by 21 points. It was the turnover number. The Tide gave away the basketball, only 10 times.

If – and no prediction is warranted until after the next two games – but, if this team has cured its turnover issues, the rest of the season can have some big wins.

About that pair of games, listen to Nate Oats,

Whatever weaknesses the Cats had earlier in the season, don’t look for them Saturday in Lexington. They have lost three games by a total of 12 points. Facing Big Blue in Rupp is always a challenge but returning home to take on one of only two unbeaten teams in the nation may be tougher.

Many unflattering comments can be fairly made about Bruce Pearl. No one can say he can’t coach. Next week in T-Town, Coleman will be rocking. As hard as Alabama basketball plays, if the turnover problem is truly solved, Nate Oats could get his first huge win as the Crimson Tide head coach – unless he gets it Saturday in Lexington.

Next. Top Tide Moments of the Past Decade. dark

Alabama basketball had five players in double-figures scoring. John Petty Jr. led with 18 points. Kira Lewis Jr. had 17, Galin Smith and Beetle Bolden had 11 points each and Jaden Shackelford added 10 points.