Anything but sweet as Alabama wins a rock fight to advance to the Sweet Sixteen

Grand Canyon v Alabama
Grand Canyon v Alabama / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball is headed back to the Sweet Sixteen after holding off the Grand Canyon Antelopes. The Tide struggled offensively meaning the defense had to finally show up after struggling all season. The Tide would get in foul trouble early meaning the team would have to fight through adversity. This is a signature win for Nate Oats who's team finally showed the toughness he's asked for all season.

The first half was truly a rock fight as the teams entered the under-twelve timeout with Grand Canyon leading at just 8-7. Nate Oats would let the officials hear his displeasure taking a technical sparking an 8-0 run by Alabama thanks in part to a pair of Mark Sears threes. Nick Pringle and Grant Nelson brought a strong presence inside combining for four blocks and five rebounds slowing the Antelopes who were cold shooting on the outside. Rylan Griffin and Mark Sears carried the offense through the first half combining for 26 of the Tide's 38 points.

The first half brought bad news as the Tide lost Latrell Wrightsell who scored two points and played versatile defense to a head injury. It's unclear whether Wrightsell who's dealt with a concussion and a nasal injury will be able to play in the Tide's matchup against North Carolina.

The second half started sloppy for both teams with the Tide taking a 48-39 lead into the under twelve timeout. The Tide's turnovers would allow the Antelopes to go on a 9-4 run cutting the Tide's lead to just four after the under-eight timeout. Grant Nelson would pick up his fourth foul early while Jarin Stevenson fouled out with seven minutes left causing Oats to lean on Sam Walters. The Lopes would take a shot lead before Mo Dioubate got an offensive rebound leading to a Mark Sears free throw before grabbing another board leading to an and-one for Dioubate. The play of Dioubate would flip the game giving the Tide a 7-0 run late. Solid defense, turnovers by Grand Canyon, and Mark Sears would close the game out for the Tide.

Mark Sears led the Tide with 26 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, and six assists. Mo Dioubate turned the game for the Tide with 9 points, five rebounds, and a pair of blocks. Rylan Griffin was dominant in the first half scoring 13 points however, that would be the only scoring for the guard.

The style of game was the exact worst-case scenario for a Tide team that has lacked physicality all season. The win now proves that Nate Oats' group can win a defensive fight, a way in which many would've doubted the Tide could win. The group will now face the top-seeded North Carolina Tarheels with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight.

Crimson Tide finally won a rock fight

The question many had for this Alabama Basketball team was if they could win a game where the offense struggled as the defense was abysmal all season. The entire night the Alabama offense seemed out of rhythm however, the defense stepped up when it was needed the most. The Antelopes turned the ball over 14 times helping the Tide defensively. The defense would block nine shots while recording ten steals keeping the Tide in this game. This was the performance Nate Oats has looked for all season and if the team can play this way defensively they'll have a serious shot to win against North Carolina.

Crimson tide add another talented linebacker. Crimson tide add another talented linebacker. dark. Next