There was plenty to like on both ends of the court for Alabama coach Nate Oats after his Crimson Tide walloped South Alabama 102-46 while placing four men in double figures. Here's what he said:

Opening statement

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“That was a lot more like we’re trying to get on the defensive end. I thought our effort was significantly improved from everybody on the team. I thought some guys really stepped up. I thought Nick Pringle was much better. I don’t think the official box score is correct. I think he had more blocks than the one they gave him credit for, but we’ll go back and look on the video and get that squared up. I thought he challenged shots at the rim, even when he didn’t block them. I thought Mo Wague played super hard like he always has. Jarin (Stevenson) and Grant (Nelson) were trying to go block some shots at the rim, give us some rim protection. Grant had three blocks. It was much better that way.

“I thought Sam (Walters) and Davin (Cosby) were significantly better on defense. We were able to get them 16 minutes, and then they can do what they do. You look from three, Sam’s 3-of-3, Davin’s 2-of-5. We’ve got some good shooters. In fact, I think we’ve gotten 23 threes up every single game. We’d like to get a few more up as well as we’re shooting it, but we’ve been pretty efficient with our threes. Offensively, our guys had us down for a 1.52, which is about as good as you’re going to see anywhere. This was not a super high-possession game. I think we had us down for 67 possessions, I believe, on this one. Not that many possessions to score 102 points.

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“They try to play a lot slower. They did a decent job slowing down. I thought we played hard no matter what the score was. I do think we gave up too many O boards, some at the free-throw line. Fouled too much at the end. But overall, super happy. Twenty-one assists on 10 turnovers, 21 assists on 34 field goals. The ball was moving, I thought guys were unselfish and a lot of guys need to play with that. Happy with our effort. We need to get one more great defensive game against Mercer Friday night going into that Thanksgiving tournament down there in Destin.”

On what he wants to replicate from the defense

“They obviously didn’t shoot it well. I think they missed some threes that left them open, they screwed up and they didn’t make us pay. I don’t know that we were quite that good in the 0.6s, but we were a lot better. So we’ll get whatever we need to clean up cleaned up tomorrow and get ready for Mercer. But yeah, our effort was better. I thought our guys played hard. Guys tried to cover each other’s mistakes, took some charges. I was happy with the effort. Much, much better defensively than what we’ve been the first two games.”

On how Sam Walters answered the challenge on defense

“We know he can shoot. It was great to see some threes go in for him. But we’ve really been on him to guard better. I thought he did guard better. Now, he was trying to guard the last game, and he fouled out in eight minutes. So he did a better job of playing tough, physical without fouling as much as he had in the last game. What did he end up with with fouls? Yeah, one. A lot better than five. He got 16 minutes this game. It’s a lot easier to get him minutes when he’s not fouling out in eight minutes. I thought he was much more engaged defensively, much more locked in and you can keep him on the floor and see what he’s capable of on offense.”

On how Grant Nelson affected the game 

“He passed a lot. I thought he had a couple turnovers he probably shouldn’t had, but passing to Nick in the pick-and-roll was great. He rebounded pretty well. He protected the rim with blocks. And he missed some shots that I think are usually going to go in. He didn’t have his best offensive game, but he still was able to impact the game offensively with his passing. It was the first time he’s missed a free throw all year, too. He was just a little bit out of sync on offense with his shooting, but I thought he played really hard on defense, blocked some shots, rebounded the ball, got the ball moving past it. He showed that he’s capable of impacting the game a lot of other ways other than just scoring.”

On Mark Sears being the bridge from last year’s team

“He knows what it takes. He was in that locker room, in those huddles, in those big games. He knows what the defensive effort has to look like. He came out ready to go. His game was as efficient as you’re going to see. He didn’t miss a free throw, 3-of-4 from three. Shoot, he didn’t miss a shot until he took about a 30-footer with the heat check there. But he’s playing well for us. Led us in scoring with 17 in only 23 minutes, 17 points on seven field goal attempts is a pretty efficient game. He’s been our leader, is our leader. I’m super proud of him.”

On Alabama keeping its foot on the gas after building a big lead

“That was our big point is we don’t want to play the scoreboard. If we’re going to be a great defensive team, it’s every possession. We were up 19 on Wake Forest and ended up losing the game. So we’ve already had an instance this year in a game where we were up big, let our foot off the gas. We made a huge point – what did we learn against TCU? What did we learn against Wake? What did we learn Game 1? What did we learn Game 2? Now, what are we going to learn this game? I think we’re getting better each game, learning more and more. But a big thing we’ve always preached here is we’re not playing the scoreboard. We’re playing as hard as we can possibly play every possession, and I thought we did that tonight.”


On what clicked in the first half 

“I thought the ball was sticking too much early in the game. We weren’t moving it enough. They put two on the ball, blitzed us pick-and-roll and we didn’t get it out of our hands quick enough. I thought once we started moving the ball better – we were also able to get some stops and get out in transition a little bit more after that, too. A point of emphasis has been we need to play fast. We’ve tried to play fast. We got over 100 again. I think it’s the first time since ‘56-57 we started the season with three straight 100-point games. I’m guessing that was before everybody in here was alive. (Oats sees Kirk McNair) My fault, sorry. But we’re scoring the ball pretty well. I think it’s the first time since we played Georgia last year we shot 60 percent in the game. So we’ve been efficient. Again, like I said, it wasn’t on a ton of possessions we were able to get 102 points. This wasn’t a game where we had like 80, 85 possessions. I don’t even think we had 70 possessions. Efficiency has been good. The ball started moving a little more. Once the ball, assist totals went up, shooting was better. I liked the way the ball moved kind of after that, and I like the way our guys are playing unselfishly right now.”

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