Worst luck in America? The next team to face Alabama after the best team in the country doesn’t play like that.
Georgia was the latest casualty on Saturday, taking all the wrath of the top-ranked Tide three days after Alabama lost its first SEC game of the season in Knoxville.
Angry Alabama scored on 14 of its first 15 possessions and took a 20-point lead less than seven minutes after the sold-out dinner party, the penultimate home game of the season. The advantage topped 30 and then 40 points, and twice reached 50 before Alabama finally won, 108-59.
“It was another game after a loss where I felt like our guys were ready to play,” coach Nate Oats said. “So hopefully we don’t get too many more, if any – after the losses, that is.”
Coleman Coliseum again acted as a rage room for Alabama, which beat Vanderbilt by 57 points last month after losing to Oklahoma and then beat Florida two weeks later by 26 after a inferior road win at LSU.
Saturday’s victory was Alabama’s 11th of the season by 20 or more points, with four by 30 or more. That includes three SEC games won by at least 40 points: Saturday’s win over Georgia, the 57-point win over Vanderbilt and a 40-point home win over LSU in January. The last SEC team to win three conference games by at least 40 points was Kentucky in 1955-56, according to SEC Network.
“Two of them were after losses,” Oats noted. “I think our guys react well after losses.”
The 49-point winning margin is tied for the third-largest in school history for an SEC game with a 98-49 win over Mississippi State in 2005. Only the 57-point win that season’s points over Vanderbilt and a 1947 win over Ole Miss by 53 points were more lopsided.
Alabama’s 108 points were a season high and the most on the program since scoring 115 in a February 2021 win over Georgia, which set a school record for an SEC game.
“We have offensive firepower to go along with a really good defensive team,” Oats said. “We scored 108 so people are going to talk about our offense. Our defense is actually ranked ahead of our offense on all efficiency measures.
“I think when you pair a defensive group with offensive firepower, you have those games where you ignite and blow a team away.”
Alabama is No. 3 in KenPom.com’s defensive effectiveness measure behind Tennessee and UCLA. His offensive efficiency ranks 13th.
“We told our group from day one that we should only determine the margin of victory, not whether we win or lose,” Oats continued. “For example, our defense has to be good enough to carry us, even when we’re not shooting. I feel like, for the most part, that is the case.
It was clear from the first board on Saturday that Alabama had its last chance to take a wrecking ball in the record books. He hit his first three shots, all three pointers, and started 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Guard Mark Sears hit his first five three-pointers after scoring just two in Wednesday night’s loss to Tennessee, and Brandon Miller racked up 14 points before going to the bench for a standing ovation seven minutes into the start of the game.
“Brandon was able to start early tonight,” Oats said. “It’s good that Sears is starting to do some shots again as well.”
Sears finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 3-pointers in just 19 minutes, while Miller had 21 points on 3-of-5 from deep in 21 minutes, hitting 500 points in his first season. Fellow freshman Noah Clowney was also effective, scoring 12 in 17 minutes, including 2 of 4 from triples.
As a team, Alabama shot 16 of 34 from three-pointers for a season-high 47.1 percent. Alabama also set a season high shooting 61.9 percent from the field and edged Georgia, 49-26. The 23-rebound margin was Alabama’s highest in any SEC game since Oats took over as coach in 2019.
“I’ve talked a lot about bouncing out,” Oats said. “I think we did a good job.”
After struggling with 19 turnovers in Knoxville, Alabama committed 11 on Saturday but delivered 26 assists, the second most of the season.
“Jahvon (Quinerly) had six assists and three turnovers,” Oats said. “But apart from him with three (turnovers), no one had more than one each. Jaden Bradley had seven assists and no turnovers. Rylan Griffen had four assists and no turnovers. Happy with the way we moved the ball.
Nate Oats allowed his bench to take charge in the second half. Junior forward Nick Pringle set a season-high 19 points, including 13 after halftime on 6-of-7 shooting, and completed his double-double with a team-high 12 rebounds.
“I’m happy for him because he’s a guy who was a bit frustrated not playing so much not too long ago and kept working hard,” Oats said. “We actually put him on the scout team about a month ago, just to get him more reps.”
Pringle, who won the Oats helmet for his blue-collar points, was credited with three dunks and a missed dunk late in the second half which deflated the crowd’s audible anticipation sold out.
“The air is a little different up there,” Pringle said. “It’s kind of nice to have the athletic ability that I have. I’m just blessed, man.
Among those in attendance were football coach Nick Saban, making his second appearance of the season after witnessing a rout of Kentucky in January, and former star Herbert Jones, at home for the New Orleans Pelicans during the NBA all-star break.
Earlier today, Alabama was named by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee as its current No. 1 seed for next month’s NCAA Tournament.
“If we take care of business here for the next three weeks, hopefully we play Birmingham in the NCAA Tournament, and we can get as big pro-Alabama as possible,” Oats said. “(The crowd) is great for our guys. It shows you the level to which we have taken the program. Because my first year here, we weren’t getting all those sales — not for a sub-500 team in the SEC.
Alabama improved to 23-4, tying its best start to the schedule from the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons. His SEC record rose to 13-1, broken only by the school’s undefeated 14-0 conference mark in 1955-56.
But Alabama has yet to hold Texas A&M for an SEC regular-season title. The Aggies beat Missouri on Saturday to stay one game behind Alabama at 12-2. Texas A&M hosts Alabama in the regular season finale on March 4.
Alabama heads to South Carolina on Wednesday, which improved to 3-11 in the SEC with a victory Saturday over LSU.
Mike Rodak is a Beat Alabama reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.