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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

After years of consistency, Alabama hopes to experience scorching offense to breakthrough win over North Carolina

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LOS ANGELES — When the Crimson Tide takes the ground towards No. 1 seed North Carolina Thursday, it’ll mark its third look within the Candy 16 throughout Nate Oats’ five-year tenure. Exterior of 2020, when the occasion was canceled as a result of COVID-19, Alabama has reached the NCAA Event in all 4 seasons with Oats on the helm. It has been a meteoric rise for a program that had been to the Massive Dance simply twice within the 13 years earlier than Oats took the job. 

An amazing majority of faculty packages would kill for that sort of consistency, however Oats has a loftier imaginative and prescient for the Tide.

“We nonetheless have not gotten to a Closing 4,” Oats mentioned. “To me, that is sort of the following step.”

Alabama is on the precipice of its second Elite Eight look in program historical past thanks largely to a high-powered offense. The Crimson Tide lead the nation in scoring (90.7 ppg) and common 14.5 seconds per possession, the third-fastest within the nation in keeping with KenPom.com. Alabama has made the third-most 3-pointers within the nation and is on tempo to complete because the highest-scoring group from the SEC since Kentucky’s nationwide title group in 1995-96. 

Sadly for Alabama, lots of their astronomical level totals have been a necessity. The Crimson Tide permit 80.9 factors per sport, adequate for the No. 345 scoring protection within the nation. Amongst all Energy Six groups, solely DePaul has been worse. Alabama is permitting the second-most factors (81.7 ppg) of any match group within the final 25 years.

Whereas the Tide have been at dwelling in fast-paced shootouts, their final outing towards Grand Canyon was the alternative. Alabama was uncharacteristically sluggish on offense, however managed to slog their solution to a 72-61 win over the Lopes due to an impressed defensive effort that Oats known as the group’s greatest in months. 

“I instructed them we do not have to overlook about offense once we play nice protection,” Oats mentioned on Wednesday. “You’ll be able to put each collectively. The Grand Canyon sport, I’ve had individuals examine it to a rugby contest, soccer contest. It bought somewhat tough, bodily. I like the truth that our guys matched their physicality and stayed in it did not give up and confirmed quite a lot of character. However, yeah, it might be good if our offense took care of the ball and made photographs like now we have been (the remainder of the season).”

Oats is aware of his group will want an impressed effort on each ends of the ground to take down North Carolina. The Tar Heels earned a No. 1 seed on the again of the No. 6 scoring offense within the nation. Additionally they rank No. 21 within the nation in defensive effectivity. 

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 “We’ll must get an offense that is clicking just like the No. 1 offense within the nation with the intention to have an opportunity to win this sport,” Oats mentioned. “So we have made that time. We’re placing somewhat extra time in on our offensive aspect, making an attempt to determine the way to assault them. Now, they are not straightforward to determine the way to assault. They have actually good rim safety. They have good guards. They have good gamers. They’re good. However we’re placing a while in on the offensive aspect of the ball too.”

Sears seeks redemption 

Alabama guard Mark Sears remembers what it feels wish to play within the Candy 16 all too effectively. The All-American was a starter on final 12 months’s Crimson Tide group that ran roughshod over the SEC, capturing the league’s common season and match crowns. Alabama entered final 12 months’s NCAA Event as a No. 1 seed and continued its dominance by the primary two rounds, beating each Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Maryland by 20-plus factors. 

That is when the Tide bumped into eventual nationwide runner-up San Diego State. The Aztecs upended Alabama 71-64 ending what had appeared like a season of future for the Crimson Tide. Sears discovered a constructive use for the ache of final 12 months’s loss. 

“Simply having that feeling of, man, it was mainly disappointing as a result of we had been the No. 1 seed and wished to win the entire thing,” Sears mentioned. “Simply having that motivation by the entire offseason, simply consistently placing within the work and hours. Regardless of after I’m drained, simply persevering with to combat by it and be mentally powerful. I simply had that mindset all through the entire offseason.”

That work paid off. Sears’ numbers are up dramatically from final 12 months. His scoring common is up 9 factors per sport — from 12.5 to 21.5 — making him one of many nation’s prime offensive threats.  

 Very like Alabama final 12 months, North Carolina comes into Thursday’s matchup as a No. 1 seed and favourite to succeed in the Closing 4. After stewing for 12 months over final 12 months’s loss, Sears and the Tide lastly have an opportunity to dish out some heartache of their very own. The 2 groups tip off half-hour after the conclusion of Clemson-Arizona on CBS.  



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