Alabama Basketball: Tide looks to make a statement in Nashville

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports /

What happens in Bridgestone Arena Sunday afternoon is bigger for Alabama Basketball than winning a game. With a win, the Alabama Crimson Tide can make a strong statement that Nate Oats has built the program into the currently most dominant one in the SEC.

Over the last three SEC regular seasons and SEC Tournaments, Nate Oats has led the Crimson Tide to a 43-13 record. That is a winning percentage in SEC games of 76.8%. Over the three-season period, no other program comes close. Rick Barnes and Tennessee are next at 65.5%. Eric Musselman and the Arkansas Razorbacks are at 63.6%. Close behind the Hogs are John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats at 63%. Farther back are Buzz Williams and Texas A&M at 58.3% and Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers at 58.2%.

Nate Oats has so outpaced Bruce Pearl, the Alabama fans who pined for Pearl before Auburn hired him, have selectively blocked out that memory.

The Alabama Basketball winning percentage is impressive. But it needs an exclamation point. Winning the SEC ‘Double’, twice in three seasons would be a bold exclamation point. A bold enough point to claim Alabama Basketball is now the class of the SEC.

In terms of the NCAA Tournament, Sunday’s game means almost nothing. Whatever the result, Alabama will be a Big Dance 1-seed and open its tournament next Thursday in Birmingham. The overall No. 1 seed is still up for grabs, but even at No. 2 on the S-curve, Alabama will be in the South Region and open in Birmingham.

A Sunday win would give the Alabama Crimson Tide another milestone. After the Missouri game, media reports stated the Tide set a new team, single-season record of 28 wins. That is not exactly correct. The 1986-87 Crimson Tide won 28 games also. Later, the NCAA vacated two of the 28 wins (both NCAA Tournament wins), so in some record books the Tide won only 26 games in 1986-87.

A win on Sunday would give this season’s team 29 wins and would be a new team record not needing any explanation.

Note: Player and team stats from and Sports Reference

For Alabama Basketball to beat Texas A&M

Keeping the Aggies off the foul line and keeping Brandon Miller on the floor should be enough for the Tide to win. Getting some scoring help for Miller and Noah Clowney is also important. Having one or more of the Tide’s guards shed their three-point shooting slump would be a big help.

Over the last six games, Mark Sears has made threes at 18%. Jahvon Quinerly has been better at 27%, but too inconsistent.

During the same period, Rylan Griffen has missed all of his 16 three-point attempts. Nimari Burnett has been only slightly better than Griffen, making 2/14 for 14%.

Next. Alabama and the NCAA Tournament. dark

At some point, and that point might be Sunday, the Tide’s three-point drought must end. Passing up catch-and-shoot threes is not the answer. Shooters, like Sears and Quinerly, don’t end slumps by not shooting. They must shoot their way out.