Why Nate Oats is the SEC's best coach and Alabama is building for an exciting post-season

In SEC road games, teams infrequently overcome a double-digit deficit. In the game's last quadrant Wednesday night, Alabama Basketball did against a good Georgia team. Nate Oats is the main reason why.
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Wednesday night's comeback win was huge for Alabama Basketball. It was an SEC road win against an NCAA bubble team. The Tide's 7-1 SEC record keeps it in first place in the SEC at the almost halfway point of the regular season.

More significant is what the Crimson Tide learned about itself. The lesson will stick in the minds of the young men, that together they can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. For almost 30 minutes in Athens, the Crimson Tide played like a team with no chance to win a game.

Twice in the first half, Georgia led by 16 points. At 10:48 left in the second half, the Bulldogs led by 13. The Crimson Tide was getting killed on the boards and could not buy a made three. Quickly it all changed. The score was 57-44 in favor of Georgia from the first 29:12 of the game. In the final 10:48, Alabama outscored Georgia 41-19.

The turnaround came from a team effort on both ends of the court. From a scoring perspective, the comeback happened because Mark Sears, Rylan Griffen and Grant Nelson refused to lose. In the Tide's late run, Griffen scored eight points and Grant Nelson scored 12. Mark Sears poured in 15 points. Latrell Wrightsell added four points and Aaron Estrada scored two points.

Never count out Alabama Basketball

During a timeout before the Tide's winning run, Nate Oats provided a spark for his team. A Crimson Tide player said "we can win this game." Oats immediately added,

"No, stop. We are going to win this game. There’s no we can. We’re winning this game, and here’s how we’re going to do it. We’ve got to get stops. We got to rebound the ball better."

Nate Oats

After the game, Oats told his team they had learned something about themselves. Alabama Crimson Tide fans would do well to acknowledge what we have learned about Nate Oats. Saying he is the SEC's best coach is not enough. Going deeper into skills it should be said the competitive character he has built in the Crimson Tide program is extraordinary.

Much has been said about the Tide's grit this season. That grit comes from Nate Oats. More notice has been given to Oats' system, created from a commitment to analytics that is unwavering. That system allows a team, missing a key component of interior defense, to overcome the deficiency. Alabama's all guards, plus Grant Nelson lineup cannot beat every team. Alabama must also get help from Jarin Stevenson, Mo Dioubate and Mo Wague, and at times from Sam Walters. That group of nine players (the only ones who played against Georgia) is enough to win championships and make an NCAA Tournament run.

In February and early March we will learn if Alabama is the SEC's best team. What we know now, is unless it beats itself, Nate Oats has the Crimson Tide as the SEC's hardest team to put away - in any game.