Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team got its first, true road win of the season Wednesday night. The Tide took down a stumbling Vandy team in Nashville.
Never, absolutely never, is an Alabama basketball, SEC road win, a bad win. Beating Vanderbilt this season does nothing to build an NCAA resume. But the inverse, losing to the Dores would have been disastrous for post-season ambitions.
The Alabama Crimson Tide got the job done Wednesday night – in spite of itself. There were some bright spots. John Petty’s 17 first-half points, fueled by making 5-of-7, threes was a bright spot. Outrebounding Vandy 51-32 for the game was another bright spot. Petty was a big part of that stat, as well, with a team-leading 10 rebounds. Jaden Shackelford played well in a start, with 15 points, including 7-0f-8 from the line, plus seven rebounds. Herbert Jones was 6-of-7 from the foul line, plus five boards and five assists.
Balanced against all that good was the worst Alabama basketball game for making turnovers. There were 25 of the miscues. Close to 10 of the errors were sloppy, foolish turnovers, caused by inexcusably poor decision-making. The Crimson Tide had more turnovers than made field goals. Such a ratio will almost always lead to a road loss. Vandy was badly out-rebounded, but the Tide turnover explosion allowed the Dores 13 more field goal attempts than the Tide. Against other SEC teams, the 15 point Tide win (77-62) would have been a loss.
Also troubling is two of the Tide’s most steady players, Kira Lewis Jr. and John Petty Jr. committed 13 of the 25, floor mistakes. Nate Oats is surely scratching his head. Cecil Hurt provided Oats’ post-game thoughts.
Nate Oats was not being overly dramatic. His team is much improved. Winning 9-of-12 is quite encouraging. But, the Crimson Tide won Wednesday night while not playing winning basketball. The good news is, stressing more attention to detail, should get results from the very-coachable Crimson Tide.
Of the Tide’s next four games, only one is on the road. Kansas State is next, Saturday in Tuscaloosa. After a trip to Baton Rouge, the Tide returns home for Arkansas and Tennessee. The Razorbacks lead the SEC in turnovers forced per game, at over 17.
Also troubling from Wednesday night was the appearance of a possibly serious knee injury to Javian Davis. Davis will have an MRI Thursday. Even with a healthy Davis, the Tide has been thin in post defenders.