An ascendent Alabama basketball program and a fearful Auburn one

Elite players want to play for Alabama Basketball and Nate Oats and the transfer of one of them is a painful blow to Auburn and Bruce Pearl.

Many college basketball experts rate Alabama Basketball and Auburn as the SEC's two best teams for the 2024-25 season. There is data to back up the claim. It is data that goes beyond the Alabama Crimson Tide making last season's Final Four.

One data point is home court records in SEC games. The last two seasons, Alabama is 29-2 (93.6%) and Auburn is 29-3 (93%). No other SEC programs, (including Texas and Oklahoma) have reached 90%. Tennessee is next at 87.5%, followed by Texas at 86.1%. The Kentucky Wildcats have slipped to 77.8%. Arkansas has fallen even more to 74.3%.

Additional context for the home win percentages is the SEC has grown stronger in recent seasons. NCAA Tournament too early projections suggest 11 SEC teams have reasonable expectations to make the 2025 Big Dance.

Alabama Crimson Tide fans are giddy with anticipation for the 2024-25 season. Auburn fans should have similar optimism. They don't and there are a couple of reasons why. One reason is the Crimson Tide advancing to a Final Four after the Tigers got bumped in the first round by Yale. The loss injected dread into Auburn hearts.

The other reason is akin to a scorned lover theme. Auburn can't get past the transfer of former 5-star guard, Aden Holloway from the Tigers to the Crimson Tide. As an Auburn freshman, Holloway did not start until the season's third game. He was a contributor averaging 12 points in his first 10 games including eight starts. He scored 19 points against Baylor, 24 against Indiana, and 15 against Notre Dame. Ten games into the 2023-24 season he made threes with 40% accuracy.

After a game against USC in December, Holloway's minutes went down. Before the end of January, he no longer had a starting role. He regained a starting role late in the season, but his form did not return. By the end of the season, his three-point accuracy slid to 30.2%.

Basketball experts say Holloway lost his confidence, playing in a Bruce Pearl system that failed to utilize his best skills. Pearl publicly complained about Holloway's shooting. Whatever confidence Holloway had in the coach, that trust eroded before the NCAA loss to Yale.

Nate Oats was glad to offer Aden Holloway a better option. The rising sophomore's talents are a match for Alabama's offensive system. Every offseason practice has shown Holloway is thriving with the Crimson Tide. Alabama Basketball has a loaded roster for 2024-25. Minutes will be hard to apportion. All indications are Holloway will get his minutes as one of the best players on the Alabama roster.

Auburn fans are sick over it. Even Bruce Pearl is hurting. In a recent response to a media question, Pearl described what Holloway leaving for Alabama felt like for Auburn fans. He said, "It would be like if Auburn's quarterback went and played for Alabama."

The perfect response to Pearl's statement came in a tweet from Wesley Gullett. Gullett described how many Alabama fans would respond, if the transfer had been an Auburn quarterback.

Bruce Pearl's biggest fear for the 2024-25 Auburn season must come from what he knows Aden Holloway can do to the Tigers while playing in a Nate Oats offense.

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