What happened on Saturday in Tuscaloosa had never happened before for Alabama Basketball. Going back to the 1922-23 season, Alabama had 40 wins over the Kentucky Wildcats. The Cats had 116. Saturday’s 41st win for the Alabama Crimson Tide set a record.
Until Saturday, Alabama had beaten Kentucky by 20 or more points just four times. The largest winning margin for the Crimson Tide was 25 points in the 1989-90 season. Alabama set a new team record Saturday, beating Kentucky, 78-52, a 26-point margin.
After celebrating subsides, it can be admitted the Cats are not in the top tier of SEC teams this season. Still, with the blowout, Alabama made a strong statement about being much more than one of the SEC’s top teams.
In the leadup to the game, I asked Can John Calipari outcoach Nate Oats. On Saturday he could not. The Kentucky coach made an adjustment in the first half that took the Tide lead from nine points, down to one point. From that point (4:57 left in the first half) the game was all Crimson Tide. Nate Oats adjusted as well and everything Calipari tried, Oats answered resoundingly.
The difference between the two teams physically and mentally was glaring. As Calipari said after the game,
We got rattled. He [Tshiebwe] got rattled. A bunch of our guys got rattled.
Calipari also admitted what was obvious to everyone.
We all got beat, I got beat
Yes, they did and he did. Kentucky fans were unhappy before the game. More are livid now. But Calipari has a reportedly $46M buyout. Coach Cal will not leave Lexington unless it is to go to another program. His name has been mentioned with Texas. Nate Oats’ name has been mentioned for the same opportunity. After Saturday, it is clear Oats would be the best option for Texas. Greg Byrne cannot let that happen. He knows that and Crimson Tide fans should have no reason to worry.
Alabama Basketball and Nick Saban
After the game Oats said it was great having Nick Saban in attendance. Using a Saban comparison, Oats said,
‘Make their butts quit,’ I think that’s his saying. We were trying to make them quit tonight.
The Crimson Tide did just that.
Enthusiasm abounds for Alabama Basketball. The post-season potential is obvious. Keep on keeping on should be the theme, as the Crimson Tide heads down a long road that could end in greatness.
Alabama was led in scoring by Brandon Miller with 19 points and Mark Sears with 16 points. Miller also led the team in rebounding with seven. The best stat of the day was the Crimson Tide with just nine turnovers.
In the building for the beatdown were scouts and representatives from 21 NBA teams.