Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Men’s Basketball suffers first loss of season at Emerald Coast Classic, bounces back in second game

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama forward Nick Pringle (#23) tips off against Oregon at Raider Arena in Destin, FL.

The Alabama men’s basketball team traveled to Destin, Florida, to compete in the Emerald Coast Classic this weekend.  

The Crimson Tide’s vacation to the beautiful beach town resulted in both a win and a loss, with much to learn from and improve on before facing a difficult stretch of opponents 

Ohio State (Nov. 24) 

The Crimson Tide dropped its first game of the season with a loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday with a final score of 92-81.  

From the first tip, it was a rough one offensively for the Crimson Tide. Alabama shot just 3-12 from long range in the first half.  

The Buckeyes’ rebounding advantage was the biggest difference in the first half. Ohio State outrebounded the Crimson Tide 17-9 in the half. Center Felix Okpara grabbed six of those 17 rebounds for the Buckeyes.  

One bright spot for the Crimson Tide in the first half was the play of guard Aaron Estrada, who had 12 points at the break on 5-7 shooting.  

The Crimson Tide defense was also active in the first half, forcing 10 turnovers that led to 12 points before the break.  

In the second half, Alabama’s defensive issues were on full display. Several mental errors and missed assignments consistently led to layups and open 3s for Ohio State.  

Alabama has struggled defensively so far this season but has mostly been able to make up for it with stellar offensive play. But it was mostly a poor shooting night for the Crimson Tide, resulting in no real answer for the Buckeyes.  

Ohio State guards Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr. combined for 52 points in the contest, scoring 29 and 23 points respectively. It was a career-high scoring mark for both guards.  

Thornton delivered back-to-back 3s late in the second half as part of a 10-0 Buckeye run.  

The real dagger in the heart for Alabama was a miraculous and-one basket from Gayle late in the half. As the Niagara Falls, New York, native drew contact, he threw up a wild shot that fate seemed to guide right off the backboard into the basket. 

It was just one of those nights for the Crimson Tide.  

“They exposed our weaknesses on defense,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said postgame. “We’ve been saying for four games that our defense isn’t where it needs to be.” 

Alabama finished with three players in double figures. Forward Grant Nelson led the Crimson Tide in scoring with 20, with 9 points coming from the free-throw line. Nelson also finished with six rebounds and three blocks.  

After a quiet first half, guard Mark Sears scored 13 in the second half to finish with 17 points. Estrada would finish with 19.  

“I think we had too many guys worried about their offense right now and not worried about their defense,” Oats said. “We’ve got to be better on defense to be any good at this level.” 

Oregon (Nov. 25) 

While the Alabama football team was on the way to an instant-classic Iron Bowl victory in Auburn, the Alabama men’s basketball pulled out a 99-91 victory over the Oregon Ducks down in Destin. 

It looked like more of the same for the Crimson Tide as the game began. Three-pointers were not falling, and more poor defensive play led to easy baskets for the Ducks. 

One noticeable improvement from the jump, however, was the Crimson Tide’s ability to control the class. Compared with its previous game, Alabama was doing a much better job of attacking the glass and getting second-chance points.   

Alabama’s offense finally returned to form late in the first half, going on an 8-0 run in just 90 seconds, then proceeding to finish the half on an 11-2 run. Alabama led at the half with a score of 47-39. 

Guards Sears and Rylan Griffen led a late offensive attack with 13 and 9 points, respectively.  

The second half was a game of catchup for Oregon. As soon as it would cut into the deficit, Alabama would go on a run to extend the lead. Alabama led by as many as 18, and as few as 6.  

“For a team that is really banged up and has a lot of injuries, Oregon did a great job hanging in there with us,” Oats said postgame.  

In the end, big offensive halves from Sears and Estrada would put the game out of reach for the Ducks, with both guards shooting 50% from 3.  

Estrada finished with 22 points against his former team, along with four rebounds and four assists. Griffen also finished in double figures with 17, a season high for the sophomore from Dallas.  

Sears had his best game of the season so far, finishing with a season-high 27 points along with seven rebounds and three steals. The veteran guard scored 9 of his points from the free-throw line.  

“I felt like the energy was great,” Sears said postgame. “We hung our heads on a loss last night, but we still had that fire from last game, and we came out with that fire this game.”  

Alabama continued to dominate the glass in the second half, winning the rebound battle 40-28. 

Alabama’s offensive performance helped make up for several defensive errors, which is becoming a pattern for this new-look team. However, Oats believes that his team is heading in the right direction defensively.   

“I challenged our guys to be better on defense and I thought we played a lot harder,” Oats said. “We’re still making way too many defensive mistakes, but I thought our effort was good.”  

The Crimson Tide will now look ahead to a date with Clemson at Coleman Coliseum on Nov. 28 as part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.  

More to Discover