Purdue 92, Alabama 86 in Toronto was what you'd call a "quality loss." The NCAA Tournament Committee knows about such things.

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Thing is, Alabama nearly pulled off an upset of No. 4 Purdue behind the career best 35 points of guard Mark Sears and the 11 each from Mo Wague and Grant Nelson.

Problem: 7-4, 300 Zach Eady made the most of his Ontario homecoming with 35 and his point guard Braden Smith scored 27 despite averaging 12.

Said Tide coach Nate Oats: "I thought our kids battled against arguably the best team in the country. ... We've just got to figure out a get some wins in these big games."

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And he's right. They do, and maybe that starts Saturday Dec. 16 in Omaha, NE at Creighton. Talk about strength of schedule. Well, the committee does.

Bama had a 12- point first half lead and a nine-point secnd half advantage but could hold neither, to further prove Oats' comment.

More from Oats: “They’re a good team. Shoot, they do a really good job. They’ve got good players. Obviously. Zach Edey is the leading candidate for National Player of the Year. You can see why. He’s a tough cover. We didn’t do a terrible job on him, and he had 35 points. So he makes things difficult. You’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do. He gets the ball so deep and he’s so big, and then when you do double him, he’s pretty good passing out of it. You can’t foul him. He went 11-of-11 at the free-throw line. He’s a good free-throw shooter.

“I thought our kids fought, they battled. For the most part, we executed the game plan, and we just had a little bit too many errors and we’ve got to step up to the free-throw line, make some free throws. My tech cost us, too. I can’t get it in a game like this. It’s on me.

"They’ll be right there at the end. And our kids went toe-to-toe with them for 40 minutes.”

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