The Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team took a Thanksgiving trip to Portland and finished third in the Phil Knight Invitational. The, then No. 18, Alabama Crimson Tide defeated No. 12 Michigan State, lost to No. 20 UConn and then took down No. 1 North Carolina to round out a challenging weekend.

The Crimson Tide propelled to No. 11 in the AP Poll after the big weekend and spirits are high around the Alabama program. Alabama's win over No. 1 North Carolina is the program's first victory over a No. 1 team since 2004.

"That was something else, I've never been involved quite in a game like that before. A lot of guys logged some major minutes. It was fun, and we really did it, Clowney who's been playing really well for us only played three minutes. We still haven't gotten Dom Welch healthy enough to play and he's going to add something once he gets healthy enough and then Brandon, that was Brandon's worse game since he's been here," said Alabama head coach Nate Oats on The Game with Ryan Fowler.

To beat a team like North Carolina without three guys, without two and then Brandon not playing as well as he's been playing, really kind of shows you what we're capable of doing. We've got to execute late game a little bit better but it's still November, there's got a lot of time to improve so I think this is going to give our young guys that we can play with anybody in the country"

Head coach Nate Oats has five more non-conference matchups, including a paying off a road trip to now No. 1 Houston and a neutral site game with No. 14 Gonzaga.

Thankfully for Alabama they won't play again until Saturday against South Dakota State, giving them five days between games to recuperate from the four-overtime battle with the Tar Heels.

"I like scheduling the toughest teams. You can't schedule the entire non-conference that tough, but you can schedule enough of them to where you're playing enough good teams to get you tested. Last year we don't get a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and that's a pretty good seed, if we don't play Gonzaga and beat them, if we don't play Houston and beat them," said Oats to Fowler.

You've got to play good teams. I think, to me it's about how you're playing at the end of the year. If you don't get exposed at the beginning of the year you can't improve on what you need to improve on. Even these two big wins against Michigan State and North Carolina, we lost to UConn, we've got a ton of work to do. We've got a ton of work to do off the Michigan State and North Carolina games. So we've got a lot to work on. We've got a lot of tough teams coming up but we've got to get better here."

Oats went on to talk about what he sees already in this team that makes them special and his message to this group to avoid the pitfalls that the 2021-22 Crimson Tide faced. You can listen to the entire interview with Ryan Fowler on The Game here.

 

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Alabama and No. 11 is now the highest ranked SEC team in the AP Poll through just four weeks. The Tide has climbed nine spots from its preseason No. 20 ranking. Success in the second half of non-conference play is crucial to starting the SEC schedule on the right foot and ensuring steady improvement through the season.

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