Alabama Basketball: It is only December but Tide Hoops …


For good reason, Alabama basketball fans are excited after Nate Oats’ team defeated the nation’s No. 1 team on the road. It was one of the Crimson Tide’s greatest-ever basketball victories.

The win was no fluke for multiple reasons. For one, the Houston Cougars were not overrated. Arguably, the best algorithm for ranking teams is provided by Ken Pomeroy and after Saturday’s game, the KenPom rankings only dropped Houston to No. 2. In the latest NCAA NET rankings, the now 9-1 Cougars also have the No. 2 spot.

In the KenPom rankings, Alabama is now No. 10. The Dec. 11 NCAA Net rankings have the Crimson Tide at No. 5.  When the next AP Poll is released on Monday, the Crimson Tide might be the nation’s highest-ranked one-loss team.

The rankings, especially the AP Poll, matter little this early in the season. And although it is fun to track, the dozens (more like 100s if you take a deep dive) of NCAA Tournament bracket projections mean even less. So let’s wait until at least January before we start talking about the Crimson Tide making its first Final Four.

There are statements that can be made, just nine games into the season. Nate Oats has the deepest talent in his roster Alabama Basketball has ever had. Against Houston, he used that depth masterfully. In a pressure-cooker situation, Oats sat his leading scorer, Brandon Miller for seven minutes of the second half. At that point, Miller was shooting 0-for-7 in the game. Oats also used Jahvon Quinerly sparingly in the second half, after a first-half performance when Quinerly struggled to have success against Houston defenders.

With the team’s best offensive player negated by the Cougars’ defense, Nate Oats boldly relied on three other freshmen. Noah Clowney played great throughout the game. Jaden Bradley went from eight first-half minutes to 16 minutes in the second half. Fellow freshman. Rylan Griffen, after only three first-half minutes, played 15 minutes in the second half.

In an early-season, game situation like Saturday, freshman backups rarely deliver to the extent Bradley and Griffen did against the Cougars. Bradley finished with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists – and no turnovers in 25 minutes of play. Griffen contributed six points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and only one turnover in the game.

All the right moves for Alabama Basketball

Nate Oats made all the right moves against Houston. The challenge to pull the right strings in every game will not diminish. Down what is a long road of at least 23 more games before the Big Dance, there will be valleys to go along with more peaks. But this Crimson Tide team has a real chance to be very good, by any standard of measurement.

Take a listen to what Houston coach, Kelvin Sampson said about Saturday’s game.

Next. Take a bow, Sylvester Croom.. dark

Thanks to Andrew Parrish and Blake Byler for providing this stat – While at Alabama, Nate Oats is now 5-4 against Top 5 ranked teams. Going back to C.M. Newton, Oats is the only Tide coach to have a winning record against such competition.