After the Alabama Crimson Tide recorded its ninth SEC win on Saturday, Nate Oats made a few illuminating comments. Alabama fans keep wondering about the Tide's post-season chances. Nate Oats gave a strong hint.
What transpired in the first half of the LSU game was that Alabama's vulnerabilities were attacked by LSU. LSU big, Will Baker has a 10.2 points, career scoring average. In the first half against Bama, Baker scored 22 points. He made a trio of threes and the rest of his production came inside the paint, against outmatched Crimson Tide defenders. In the second half, Alabama adjusted with guards helping to defend Baker and forcing him to make three turnovers. Baker took 12, first-half shots but could only get two attempts in the second half. His only second-half points came from two free throws.
LSU committed just 12 turnovers in the game. Alabama was outstanding, turning those turnovers into 23 points. Another superlative for the Crimson Tide was in a game when Alabama took 81 shots from the floor, it made only eight turnovers.
For Alabama, sweeping LSU in the regular season is an accomplishment. The Bengal Tigers are having a tough year but Matt McMahon has talent on his roster. A couple of their SEC losses have been in close games. Not unlike Alabama, LSU is prone to defensive mistakes.
Alabama's weakness in interior defense was evident again on Saturday. LSU took advantage in the first half, shooting 59.4%. Somewhat cooler in the second half, LSU finished the game at 55%. Such good shooting should translate as a win. After the game, Nate Oats explained why it did not.
"When you don't turn the ball over, you get 19 offensive boards, you get a lot of shot attempts. To have 21 more field goal attempts it's gonna be hard for (LSU) to win a game like that."- Nate Oats
Oats made another post-game comment that should excite Alabama basketball fans.
"We've got a lot of offensive firepower. We can explode at any point. If we can get our defense better, we could be a pretty dominant team."- Nate Oats
An explosion is what happened during a key six-minute interval against LSU. With 9:32 to go in the game, LSU led 73-72. It took the Crimson Tide a shade over six minutes to turn the one-point deficit into an 18-point lead. Such an explosion goes back to two things. First is Nate Oats' offensive philosophy. Second, he recruits to it, producing a roster that is all-in on the Nate Oats system.
Yes, getting the defense better, is essential to make a strong post-season run. But even without a dependable rim protector, all other championship components are in place.