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Everything Nate Oats said following Alabama’s thrilling overtime win over Florida

In one of the best college basketball games of the season, the No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide outlasted the No. 24 Florida Gators, 98-93 in overtime from inside Coleman Coliseum.

The Crimson Tide would overcome a 10-point second-half deficit before making a thrilling comeback to send the game into overtime. Alabama would outscore the Gators 13-8 in the extra five minutes of play.

With the win, Alabama holds on to its lead in the SEC standings with an 11-2 record in conference play, and with just five games remaining in the regular season, coach Nate Oats and the Tide are on their way to another SEC regular season title.

Following the win Coach Oats would speak to the media about his team’s thrilling overtime victory. Below is everything he had to say:

Opening statement

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

“Shoot, that was a wild game. I’m still not quite sure how we figured out how to win it, but I told our guys, sometimes when you play bad, you’ve got to figure out ways to win games and I thought we figured it out. I’d have to go back and look at the film, but a couple plays that come to mind – we needed Sam (Walters) to hit the big 3s, and it wasn’t just the 3s he hit. He got a tip on a big possession late in the game that kept the ball alive for Aaron (Estrada) to go in and get the putback. Aaron almost had a triple-double. He finished with 20, eight with five O boards coming from the guard spot. That was big. I thought this was probably Grant (Nelson)’s best game. The three he hit in the corner was huge, but the six blocks were bigger because our defense, again, was not good. We’ve got to figure this thing out better and we’ve got to do a better job on it.

“But we’re figuring out ways to win. If you’re going to win the league championship, which we’re obviously in the hunt now for with five games left, these are the games that you’ve got to figure out ways to win even when you don’t play well. I mean, we were 2-of-18 from three at the half, and we were within striking distance – it was only four points. And then we got down bigger. I know we were down 10 at some point late in the game – eight minutes, somewhere in there – and we figured out a win. We came to the huddle, kind of like Georgia, we said, ‘Listen, man. We’re going to figure out a way to win this game. We’re going to make some big plays.’

“I thought this was maybe (Mark) Sears’ best game defensively, scrapping. He was in there. The big steal he had late in the game. But Rylan (Griffen)’s tip where he got fouled, goes to the free-throw line, makes two free throws. We figured out ways to win this game when we didn’t play well. I told them at half, ‘Guys, we’ve been through this formula before. When we’re not making 3s, you can still win the game. So what you’ve gotta do is go kill them on the O glass. (We ended up with 21 O boards.) You’ve gotta get yourself to the free-throw line. (We outscored them at the free-throw line.) You’ve gotta take care of the ball and turn them over.’ Now, we didn’t turn them over enough, but we had one fewer turnover than them. We won the free-throw deal and we won the offensive rebounding deal and kept it even enough on the second-chance.

“And then, look, they’re a team that scores a ton of points in the paint. Grant with the six blocks, I thought Nick (Pringle) played way better in the second half. But for us to outscore them 56-40 in the paint, our guys have the wherewithal – we obviously like to make a lot of 3s around here. We made 18 back-to-back games going into this. It wasn’t dropping, and we figured out a way to score 56 points in the paint. So give our guys a lot of credit. We figured out a way to win the game. I give Florida a ton of credit. They came in with a great game plan, played well. Their guards, we didn’t do a great job guarding their guards.

“We’ve got to do a much better job and play better on defense at Rupp (Arena) on Saturday or we’re not gonna come out with a win. We’ve got two days to really try to lock into a scouting report and do a much better job on Saturday than we did tonight. But give our guys a ton a credit, give Florida a lot of credit. We’re gonna have to play much better at their place. Hopefully, we’re able to get (Latrell) Wrightsell back quick. He’s got a head injury. He’s being evaluated on a day-to-day basis. We’ll kind of see when he starts to feel a little better. Hopefully, we get him back here soon, though.”

On how this win can help the team in the postseason

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“We can reference back to when we didn’t shot well. Honestly, we didn’t play well in a lot of areas and still found a way to win against a good team. I mean, this is a team that was as high as any in this league. They’ve got the No. 9-ranked offense in the country, and shoot, we didn’t do a lot on defense. We probably made them look even better than the No. 9 offense in the country, and we still figured out a way to win. If we get in a tough game in the tournament, we’re gonna reference these ones back. The Georgia game, if we get down. We were down a lot bigger against Georgia on the road, figured out a way to win. Down 10 with eight minutes left and figured out a way to get enough stops and get overtime and have enough grit, determination.

“Now, we’ve got to do a better job once we build a 7-point lead in overtime of pulling away and winning it by 10, 12 and not making it a 1-point game. But we can reference these comebacks that we’ve had. Shoot, it’s hard to win six straight games in March. It’s hard to win three straight in the SEC Tournament. We’ve done it twice. It’s not that easy to win three straight games against really good teams in SEC Tournament. So when we get down, if we get down in one of those SEC Tournament games or NCAA Tournament games, you can reference these games where we’ve been down and came back and win. Give them some belief and hope. I thought the Georgia win helped us in the huddles tonight. We’re going to win this game. We’ve done it before. We know we can do it. Here’s what we’ve got to do.”

On Alabama's performance on the boards

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“Man, Grant was trying to box out in there some. I know he gave a lot of O boards, and they had some size on him. They’re big. I’ll have to look at it on film a little bit more to see what more he could have done. But we had 21 O boards. As many as they had – and they had a lot. They had 17, but at least it wasn’t 26 like A&M had. But we went and got 21 ourselves. You kind of go down the line, Rylan and Aaron, our starting two and three today, had nine combined O boards. That’s big. And I thought Grant fought in there. I thought Pringle in the second half really gave us big minutes, fought in there. But Sears had seven defensive rebounds. Sears led us on the glass. We told them, ‘Our bigs are gonna have to wrestle with these guys, fight. We need some guards to come in there and get some defensive rebounds.’ So for Sears to go in there and get seven of them was huge, too.”

On Sam Walters' poise to make big shots

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“I agree with you. I said that in the timeout in the under-12 after eight minutes into the second half. ‘Guys, we haven’t taken a three. I don’t really care what our percentage is in the first half. That’s now how we play. You have to hunt good 3.’ Now, I thought we took some contested ones we shouldn’t have taken in the first half, but any good three we have, we have to take it. We get offensive rebounds on those. We all know Sam’s not going to pass up many 3s. … And I thought Same was big on defense, too. Sam was a +3 when he was in. He was in 18 minutes and +3, I thought he had some good defensive plays. He came up with a tough rebound. He had the offensive rebound tip. Sam’s been getting better for us, 4-of-7 from three. Sam’s been getting on defense. I told him, ‘Listen, Sam, you don’t have to forget about your offense, as you’re getting much better on D. You can be a two-way guy.’ So it was good he was a two-way guy tonight. His defense was better. He had the blocked shot in there, made some tough plays. He had four big 3s. We needed all of them. Shoot, he made half our 3s tonight.”

On Grant Nelson's performance, comfortability

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“I think him playing a little bit more five has helped him. He’s able to drive more fives. But he’s had a knack for making some big 3s in these comeback wins. You go back to the Georgia win, he had two of them late that opened the whole thing up and won us the game. That three he hit in the corner, I wanted him to take it as soon as he caught it. I don’t know what he was hesitating for. I think I yelled him, like, ‘Shoot it.’ He decides to jab and shoot it and it still goes in. Like we want him taking the correct 3s and build up a bunch of confidence. But the six blocks he had to go with the and-1 finish he had late when we were down three and went in and made the free throw. I mean, I thought this was maybe his best game he’s played on both sides, the best two-way game he’s played. He played really good on defense at Mississippi State on Tolu (Smith), but you talk about both sides of the ball, I think this is the best I’ve seen him since he’s been here.”

On the decision to start Jarin Stevenson for the injured Latrell Wrightsell Jr.

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“He had a head injury on Monday, and we’re still evaluating it to see how he feels. Sam played really well. We had multiple options. Sam had played well the last game. Kind of our thought process was I thought Grant’s been good at the five, so let’s keep him at the five. Do we go with Jarin or Sam. Even Mo D was talked about because he’s tough and they rebound it well. We just through without Trelly, and Sam’s more of a – even though he’s 6-9, he’s more of a two guard than he is a four. If we started Sam, we’d start the only guards we really had playing in the rotation tonight. So if we bring Sam off the bench, we can get a rotation with Mark, Aaron, Rylan, Sam.

“And if you look, Sears has 42.5 minutes, Estrada has 40.5 minutes, Rylan has 36 minutes. Even though we went the way we went, those three guys still played way too many minutes. But we had to get the win and it goes to overtime, so we just thought rotation-wise – and we were trying to give Jarin a boost. We need him to start playing confident, strong. I thought he had some good plays in there tonight. He’s a way better shooter than what he’s shown. We need to get him going. I think he can really help us down the stretch. We’ve got to get him going. We thought this might help get him going. He’s a great kid. We’re going to keep going to him.”

Oats on the first-half possession with four offensive rebounds, capped y Griffen three

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“We talked about that possession at halftime. That was probably the biggest one we talked about because as much stuff as we screwed up that we talked about, this is how we’re gonna win the game. We’re 2-for-18 from three, like, ‘Guys, if we get three or four 3s every possession, we’ll be alright. So keep going to the glass, go get them, go get another one, go get another one.’ And look, a couple offensive rebounds we got, we went right back up in a bunch of traffic. That one, like, ‘Guys, everybody is collapsing the pain. Turn around and spray it out. we need more 3s anyway.’ So I thought that was huge. I was fired up after that one. It kind of was a microcosm of how we needed to play to win the game in the second half. And we had a bunch of O boards there in the second half.”

On what Nick Pringle's effort means to the team

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

“Nick is as good of an energy guy as we’ve had probably around here since I’ve been here. When his energy is positive, he’s unbelievable. Guys feed off it. He feeds off it. It’d been nice if he had the dunk in the first half, but he’s going hard. He’s playing hard. I thought the way he played at LSU on the road, that’s how I envisioned him playing every game. I thought he had good practices coming into today. And what I was really proud of Nick for tonight was he didn’t play particularly great in the first half. In the past, maybe he gets discouraged, down on himself, doesn’t bring the same amount of energy. I just went to him at half, like, ‘We’ve got to have you in the second half. You’ve got to bring it. We need your energy.’ He says, ‘I got you.’ I thought he was better in the second half. We feed off his energy. We need it. Whether in the game, even on the bench, he’s great – coaching guys up, telling them what to do. I think he’s our blue-collar connector, kind of that five-man, set a bunch of screens, get into toss actions, DHOs. He knows how to do it better than anybody, and we need him out there doing it to make our offense go. We need him out there making tough plays on defense, too.”

On Chris Stewart being promoted to football play-by-play

Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa News

“I always have a radio interview with him before the game. I just found that out myself today, so I made sure to congratulate him. It’s a pretty cool spot. Eli (Gold) has been great. I’ve got a great friendship with Chris. He’s on the road with us. He’s a good dude. So I was super happy for him. Obviously, play-by-play for Alabama football is kind of a big deal in that industry. He deserves it. He does great. Shoot, I love listening to his calls. If I could go back and have his calls with the TV view of the game, I’d probably do that every time. I’d like to know how many people turn their TV on and then have the radio on with Chris for our games. If I was watching it, that’s probably what I’d do. No disrespect. The TV announcers have been great. Jimmy (Dykes) and Tom (Hart) were great guys tonight. I’m sure they did a great job, but there’s something about Chris’ voice on the play-by-play for our games. He’s done it some in football. He’s gonna be good.”

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire