Well, after being called out for the lack of execution on the defensive end of the court, the 22nd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) responded in a major way against the in-state South Alabama Jaguars on Monday night, winning by an obscene score of 102-46. Granted, the Jags aren’t exactly the greatest offensive squad in the country by any stretch, but that was still an extremely encouraging effort for a team that continues to build chemistry together.
Now, the Tide turns its attention to the annual Thanksgiving-time non-conference tournament that Nate Oats has made a staple of Alabama’s early schedule. This year the Crimson Tide will be participating in the Emerald Coast Classic, which is admittedly not as prestigious or as difficult as some of the tournaments Nate Oats and company have participated in recent years. Still, this is a great opportunity for the fellas to take on high-major opponents after the opening couple of weeks against lesser competition.
Unfortunately, that step-up in competition doesn’t really begin until Alabama makes it way down to the panhandle for their Black Friday matchup with Ohio State. The Emerald Coast Classic is two separate four-team tournaments - one featuring high-major teams and one featuring smaller programs - and as kind of an opening preview to it, the four smaller schools will play the four larger schools this weekend - Ohio State hosts Western Michigan, Tennessee State heads out to Eugene, OR to take on the Ducks, Santa Clara takes on Southeastern Louisiana, and, of course, the Tide hosts Mercer.
So, while this is technically the opening game of the 2023 Emerald Coast Classic, the result of it has no bearing on the tournament games being played next weekend. Still, it’s another opportunity for guys to play together and continue working on their games as they get ready for the beginning of what will be a brutal stretch of games between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The game will tip-off at 7:00 PM CST and will once again be streamed on ESPN+/SECN+. Alabama is favored by 29.5.