Men’s basketball set to take on Michigan State in Phil Knight Invitational

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

Alabama’s 2022-23 men’s basketball non-conference picture just got a little bit clearer. 

In February, it was announced that the Crimson Tide would participate in the 2022 Phil Knight Invitational— Nike’s annual multiple-team event aimed at celebrating their co-founder’s legacy.  

Now, Nate Oats’ fourth year squad will begin the tournament by facing Michigan State on Nov. 24 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Tip-off is slated for 9:30 p.m. CT. 

With a victory, the Crimson Tide would advance to take on the winner of UConn and Oregon on Nov. 25 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with a final contest coming on Sunday, Nov. 27. 

It’ll be mentor vs. prodigy, as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and Oats share a connected midwestern past. In fact, it was Izzo’s input to Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne that helped the former Buffalo head coach land in Tuscaloosa. 

“We talked about different names, but as soon as Nate Oats’ name came up he was, ‘Hey that guy’s a grinder,’ I think were his first words to me,” Byrne said following Oats’ introductory news conference in 2019. “I think in college basketball, in any college sport really, you have to get a get a grinder. I always say you have to get your hands in the dirt, coaching your team, developing your team, recruiting, where you’re hands on.” 

“As much as they would let me be involved in, that’s how much I was involved at Michigan State,” Oats said. “I had that much respect for what Tom Izzo did. I never worked for him, but he was great to me.” 

The lengthy Spartans will be led by junior guard A.J. Hoggard, sophomore guard Jaden Akins, senior forward Malik Hall, senior forward Joey Hauser, and freshman center Jaxon Kohler.  

It’s only the third meeting between Alabama and Michigan State all-time, with the Spartans winning the last matchup in 1998.  

The last time the Crimson Tide faced a team from the Big Ten? Alabama defeated Maryland 96-77 in the 2020-‘21 Round of 32.