TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In recent weeks, Alabama head coach Nate Oats has criticized his team’s play which has seen the nine-game winning streak and reign as the nation’s No. 2 team take a hit. late Saturday.
In Norman, Alabama was squarely outplayed by an Oklahoma team desperate for a replay win and got just that in a 93-69 thrashing of the Crimson Tide. The loss called for a response from a young Alabama team that hasn’t faced much adversity this season.
During Monday’s practice, Oats said Alabama has taken a first step toward answering that call.
“It was much more intense,” Oats said. “We had two teams chasing him. We had guys coming off the bench who I think were playing extremely hard to try to recover like they deserved a few minutes. Based on training, they do. We told them after practice, “We don’t have four minutes for the guys to warm up. We have a lot of guys who want to play, who are ready and who show they are playing hard.”
“If you’re not going to play hard, you’re not going to stay in the game – period. There’s no warm-up time to start playing hard. As soon as you enter the game, you have to play hard. Like as soon as the ball is knocked down, you have to play hard.”
The loss to the Sooners marks the first time Alabama has given up 50 points in the first half this season. Oklahoma’s 93 points are a new-season high for a team that averaged 67.2 points per game heading into Saturday, but thanks to Jaden Sherfield and Jalen Hill, the Sooners became the third team to hang 90 points or more in Alabama this season.
Alabama’s lackluster performance saw them drop two spots in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings, dropping to No. 6. Oklahoma shot 56% from the field and were 69% oblivious behind the 3-line. points in the win, prompting Oats to address his need to find that defensive intensity after practice. Despite the lopsided scoreline, Oats refrained from pressing the proverbial panic button, but challenged the team to prepare to play against Vanderbilt.
“We didn’t play like we know we’re capable of playing,” Oats said. “It’s not who we know we are. Let’s go back to who we know we are, let’s go back to who we want to be, who we think we are and who we’ve proven to be in the He n “There’s no reason to panic – it’s basketball. There are 31 games and they went well. But if we don’t change things, things won’t change.
Alabama has been in this situation before. In its 2021 SEC Championship run, the Crimson Tide stumbled on its trip to Norman in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. However, that team capitalized on the loss to go into a 7-2 regular season finale, which continued into the tournament a few weeks later.
“(Jahvon) Quinerly brought it up because he was on this team,” Oats said when asked if anyone had made the comparison to the 2020-21 squad. “That’s a good point to raise because we didn’t blow ourselves up in Oklahoma, but we lost. We totally went through a little stretch there where we didn’t play basketball as well as we would have could.
“But it’s not going to happen just because it did. This team of 2021 did it. We took the loss, we regrouped. We’re going to have to play harder and we’re going to have to turn things around. things won’t change unless you make them change.”