Alabama Basketball is rolling here in early February. After facing some identity and toughness concerns back in the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Tide is now riding a 4-game winning streak and is off to an 8-1 start in SEC play.
Bama is up to 16th in the latest AP Poll and controls its own destiny at the top of the league standings, but it faces a difficult stretch that starts with a road game at Auburn on Wednesday night. The Tigers will be seeking revenge after Bama knocked them from the ranks of the SEC unbeaten, and out of the AP top-10, just two weeks ago.
Alabama Basketball played one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country, and has left Tuscaloosa to play top-10 teams such as Purdue, Arizona, and Tennessee. When situational and environmental factors are taken into account, this game at Auburn could be the toughest game it has played to date.
In 2022-23, Alabama locked up the SEC regular season title with its ability to win tough conference games on the road. It went 7-2 in SEC away games, beating ranked teams such as Mississippi State and Arkansas on the road. It also won a hard-fought game over Auburn in Neville Arena. Though Bama lost a lot of NBA talent from last year’s team, its two leading scorers from that game (Rylan Griffen with 16 and Mark Sears with 15) are still on the roster.
Sears has been a leading candidate for SEC Player of the Year all season, and transfer additions Aaron Estrada and Grant Nelson have performed well through bouts of inconsistency. Recent increases in scoring production from Griffen and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. have given Bama Hoops a boost, particularly from beyond the arc, and contributed to the Tide turning its season around.
Youth movement in the Alabama Basketball frontcourt
Even more recently, freshman forwards Jarin Stevenson, Sam Walters, and Mouhamed Dioubate have solidified the Alabama frontcourt and raised the team’s ceiling even further.
Dioubate’s three highest scoring outputs of the season have all come in the last three games, which have seen him average 9.7 points per outing and shoot 76 percent (13-17) from the field. Against Mississippi State, the freshman posted season-bests of 14 points and nine rebounds. He gives the Bama frontcourt an element of grit and toughness that it lacked in the fall semester.
Jarin Stevenson got off to a faster start, reaching double-figures in four of his first eight collegiate games. After a short slump, he has found his groove over the last five games, hitting 7 of his 13 three-point field goal attempts. While he is not the interior presence of a Noah Clowney just yet, he is scrappy and long and provides a lot of the same floor-spacing benefits that Clowney offered from the '4' position.
Sam Walters has been a weapon from the perimeter all year for the Tide, hitting a three-pointer in 15 of 22 games and hitting at least two triples in nine games. For the year, he has connected at a 44 percent clip from beyond the arc.
It took a while for this team to gel, but Coach Nate Oats has once again shown he is a force in terms of roster construction and development. With the emergence of all this new talent finally finding its rhythm, Alabama Basketball is starting to peak at the perfect time.
The upcoming game at Auburn and the next couple weeks as a whole will be telling as to just how much the team has progressed.