Tuscaloosa, Ala.– I would like to be first in welcoming all of you to the best month of the year. A month where careers are kickstarted, a month full of heartbreak, and a month where history will be made. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is March.
With just two games left, and with the SEC Tournament quickly approaching, Alabama (19-10, 9-7 SEC) needs to find a way to close out the season strong. And it all starts by carrying over their recent momentum into tonight’s game against Texas A&M (18-11, 7-9 SEC).
This game marks the last matchup Alabama will have this season inside of Coleman Coliseum. Over the course of the 2021-2022 season, Alabama has been dominant in defending their home court. Opposing teams this season are just 2-13 inside of Coleman, with both of the two wins coming from top ten teams. To add to that, Alabama seems to be playing their best basketball of the season, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on the team playing their best basketball. I think that bodes well for winning in March. We just have to get the team bought into keeping our defense at a high level for the full 40 minutes,” Alabama head coach, Nate Oats said.
Much like the Gamecocks, the Aggies record-wise are similar to the Crimson Tide this season. The difference between all three is simple: their journeys getting there. Alabama this season has been rather up and down, with a few winning streaks scattered in there. Can’t say the same for Texas A&M. This season they are the definition of streaky. The Aggies have gone on a three, four, eight, and are currently on a two-game win streak, to accumulate almost all their wins this season.
Texas A&M doesn’t really stand out in many areas statistically compared to the rest of the SEC, but there is one thing where they are among the best. That one statistic is none other than steals. The Aggies currently are averaging 10.4 steals per game, which comes out to fourth in the entire nation. With the Crimson Tide being a turnover-friendly team this season, Nate Oats knows the challenge his team will face on the offensive end.
“They play really hard. This is the same way. He’s got them playing really hard. They’re tough. They’re going to get into you. We’re going to have to take care of the ball. They’ve got some talented offensive players, too. It’s going to be a good game for us. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready,” Nate Oats said.
Graduate student Quenton Jackson is going to have to be the primary focus on both ends of the ball. This season Jackson has a strong presence on both ends, leading the Aggies in both points per game (14) and steals (1.6). Outside of Jackson, there really aren’t any other notable players that Alabama has to truly key in on.
This more than likely is Alabama’s game to lose. Alabama, on paper, has a much higher-ranked offense as compared to the Aggies and has the potential to beat anyone at any time. But what will ultimately decide the outcome of this game is who wins the turnover battle. All season long, the Crimson Tide have kept teams in games, and lost some games, just because they constantly turned over the ball. And with the Aggies being a top team in forcing turnovers, Alabama needs to have good possessions and just be smart with the ball, if they do that it’ll be tough for A&M to compete.
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, these last two games are as important as ever for all teams. Let the madness begin.