Alabama Basketball: Nate Oats assesses 7-5 Tide after EKU win

After a needed win over EKU, Nate Oats considered if Alabama Basketball has turned a corner.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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On Saturday, Alabama Basketball took care of business in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide beat a not very good Eastern Kentucky team 111-67. The win takes Bama's record to 7-5 on the season. After playing Liberty on Dec. 30 in Birmingham, the Crimson Tide will begin SEC play against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Jan. 6.

Scoring 111 points raises eyebrows, but it is almost insignificant when considering the Crimson Tide's 2023-24 potential. Offense has not been the problem for Alabama. Defense has been the problem.

Alabama has not recovered from the surprise exit of Charles Bediako to professional basketball. It has no rim protector that can play consistent defense without foul trouble. How serious are the Tide's defensive problems? Alabama's best defender against EKU has also been the Tide's best defender throughout the season; Rylan Griffen.

Reviewing the EKU game, Nate Oats talked about Griffen.

"I thought it was great. I thought he’s been about the right stuff the whole year. He’s been our best perimeter defender. Other team’s best guy gets hot, he always says, ‘Put me on him. I’ve got him.’"

Charlie Potter

Along with Grant Nelson, Griffen with 19 points also led the Crimson Tide in scoring and he only played 21 minutes.

Alabama Basketball Defense

During the post-game review Nate Oats was clear the Crimson Tide defense must improve.

"Offensively, we’ve been the No. 1 offense in the country for almost two months now, if not over. So we’re not looking for guys to help our offense. That hasn’t been the issue. Our offense has been good enough to beat anybody we play. Defense has been the issue. So if you haven’t proven yourself to be one of our better defenders in practice, you’re probably not going to get a shot to play in the game."

Charlie Potter

The best news for Alabama Basketball is that Ken Pomeroy's rankings have the Crimson Tide at No. 8 nationally. Pomeroy's algorithm has Alabama as the No. 1 offense, but the No. 94 defense. Two of the Tide's five losses have come from teams Pomeroy ranks No. 2 (Purdue) and No. 3 (Arizona). Among SEC teams, only Tennessee is ranked above the Crimson Tide.