Alabama Basketball, a First Round Big Dance win and Nate Oats

After two days of the SEC struggling, Alabama Basketball showed that when its regular rotation of players are healthy, the Crimson Tide is a dangerous team in the Big Dance.
Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Alabama basketball fans can rejoice about two things on Friday. One was the Alabama Crimson Tide blowout won over 13-Seeed Charleston. The Crimson Tide won 109-96 but the score does not represent what a beatdown the Crimson Tide put on Charleston.

The win was not secured at halftime when Alabama led 51-34. It was over at the 13:27 mark of the second half, when a Latrell Wrightsell three-pointer, gave the Crimson Tide a 75-51, 24-point lead.

Credit to the Cougars for maintaining the fight almost to the end. Ten of Nate Oats' scholarship players logged 12 minutes of action or more. At the 7:49 mark, the Crimson Tide was up by 31 points. What followed was not garbage time, until the last couple of minutes, but it was a statement that the Crimson Tide knew it could beat Charleston as badly as it chose.

Three of the Crimson Tide's starting guards (Mark Sears, Latrell Wrightsell, and Aaron Estrada) combined for 60 of Alabama's 109 points. Sears led the way with 30 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Friday's game started with the normal lackluster defense the Crimson Tide has produced throughout most of the season. After the game, Nate Oats commented that the first half's defensive improvement was triggered by the play of Mo Diobate and Mo Wague. Oats stated, "I thought our rebounding and defense picked up in the first half after we got down six."

The Alabama Crimson Tide head coach added, "I think we showed tonight that when we're locked in we can be a good defensive team. We were a good defense for portions of the game." Charleston finished the game shooting 41%, compared to the Crimson Tide's 60%.

Along with Mark Sears, Alabama had two other double-digit scorers. Latrell Wrightsell had 17 points in just 26 minutes of action. Aaron Estrada added 13 points, along with eight assists and seven rebounds.

After the game, Nate Oats made a comment that should excite Crimson Tide fans. He said for the first time in quite some time, Alabama was able to practice with its top four guards healthy. In the late stages of the regular season, Alabama was only to do that for the Texas A&M game. The Tide beat the Aggies by 25 points.

A healthy Crimson Tide is a dangerous team and one that can advance to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.