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Everything Nate Oats said following Alabama’s 99-67 win over Mississippi State

On Saturday night from inside a packed-out Coleman Coliseum, Nate Oats and the Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball team demolished a good Mississippi State team 99-67.

With the win, the Tide improved to 16-6 on the season and a league-leading 8-1 in the SEC.

Mark Sears led the charge offensively with 21 points but Alabama’s bench and defense were the stories of the night. Mo Dioubate and Jarin Stevenson combined for 28 points off of the bench and Alabama forced 17 Bulldog turnovers.

Following the win, Coach Oats would take time to speak to the media about his team’s performance. Below is everything he had to say after the win:

Opening statement

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

“We’ve been asking our guys to come out and try to put 40 minutes of both sides of the ball together. That’s been the closest we’ve come. That’s a tough team. Mississippi State, I think they’ve been out-rebounded twice all year, and that was one of them. We challenged our guys after the rebounding debacle at Georgia – and it was awful at Georgia – to bounce back. We did a great job.

“Mo Dioubate, I thought, played really well against Mississippi State at their place. We ended up getting him almost 20 minutes. He led us in rebounding. Shoot, he was one rebound away from a double-double. I thought that’s the best game he’s probably played. He’s getting more comfortable. He’s getting tougher, playing a spacing big like Grant (Nelson) at the five helps us be able to play Dioubate a little bit more at the four. He’s helping us.

“But we challenged our guys. I thought we were a little soft at Georgia with the rebounds and defense to start to the game. I think they answered that pretty well. I respect Mississippi State as much as anybody in this league. I coached against Coach (Chris) Jans back in the MAC. He’s always had one of the hardest-playing teams in his league. They still do. They were a little banged up, DJ (Jeffries) didn’t play in the second half.

“But I thought for a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar team like Mississippi State, we did great. We chart the blue-collar points. We had us for almost 120, 118 at the half, and they had 64. Mo Dioubate won the Hard Hat. I thought he’s tough, physical, hard-nosed. I thought played really well. For a game where we didn’t shoot it particularly great – we didn’t shoot it awful, but we didn’t shoot it great from three and we didn’t get to the free-throw line hardly at all. At one point in the second half, I think late in the second half, we had taken one free throw.

“So for not shooting it great and really not getting to the line, we made a lot of other things go well. Some second-chance points, turning them over more than we’ve been turning people over. We ended up with 27 points off turnover. I thought a lot of that was effort. We’re getting our guys to play a little bit more aggressive on D, play harder, be more assertive. And this is a really compliant group. When we make points that we need to improve on, they’ve done a pretty good job improving on them.”

On Kai Spears

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

“He’s a scholarship player now. He better produce when he gets in the game, right? Happy for him. He’s a kid that works really hard, that’s all about the team, that gets in the gym, works with our guys, works on his own game. He’s coming. He doesn’t get a chance to play very many minutes. It’s hard to be able to walk-on at this level, but when I can get him in, I’m going to get him in. Shoot, he doesn’t play scared. He went to the rim. He made his two free throws. He hit the one three he had. A pretty productive 1:02. It’s good.”

On Mo Wague

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

“We’re going to have him take Sam Walters in a one-on-one session on how to convert breakaway dunks (laughs). Sam might have been a little tired there. But no, Mo plays hard. He’s one of the worst in the country at fouls committed per 40. We’ve got to get him to stop fouling so much, but kind of his whole package is play hard, play aggressive. We’ve got to get him to do it without fouling, but he turned some people over, got some deflections, made some big plays. I was happy. Shoot, we couldn’t have played him many more minutes. I think he fouled out. He’s had quite a few foul-outs in a limited amount of time. Maybe it’s good with his foot that he can’t play as many minutes because he fouls out quick. In his 11 minutes, he was pretty good. Six points, three rebounds, +11 in 11 minutes. Pretty productive night.”

On Alabama's defense against Tolu Smith

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

“We’ve gotten significantly better. Tolu is maybe the best post-up big in the league. He still ended up with 23, so it wasn’t great, to be honest with you. But we also didn’t double much. We doubled occasionally and turned him over some. For a guy that doesn’t handle the ball a ton, we turned him over twice, and I thought those were big. Grant fouled out, so Grant did a great job on him last time. We thought he guard him more one-on-one. He wasn’t as good this time as last time, but we did an adequate job. As a team, we did a pretty good job on their entire team. But we probably got to do a little better, to be honest with you. But I thought it wasn’t bad. I’ll grade it a B. I’m a teacher by trade – or used to be. Hopefully, not anymore. But we’ll give it a B. C+ maybe.”

On if the team is falling in love with playing defense

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

“Man, I hope so because I thought from the 8 to 4, we fell in love with not playing defense. So then maybe at the – we got some other fresh bodies in at the under-4. I thought we did a fairly decent job closing it. It takes a really mature group to play really hard even if you’re up 30. We’ve got to mature a little bit, but we matured in the fact that we came out and played hard for a majority of the game. But look, Mo Dioubate, Mo Wague, Rylan Griffen – I mean, look at the job Rylan Griffen did on Josh Hubbard tonight. Hubbard went 1-for-9.

“Rylan is our tallest of the four guards we start, but we decided to put him on their shortest player because he’s their leading scorer on the perimeter. He studied him, really locks in to prepping himself to cover these matchups. Anytime he could get himself on Hubbard, he did, and I thought he did a great job. So we do have some guys, more and more, starting to trend that way. If we can get all the guys to fall in love with playing defense for the entire 40, we can probably do something this year.”

On Mo Dioubate

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

“Mo’s always been tough. The issue with Mo is he came here and had to have surgery, so he missed the entire summer and really didn’t get to play any live stuff until almost right before our first game. So he missed the summer and the fall. He’s now just getting comfortable with how we want him to play. We kind of had to figure out how maybe we wanted him to play. He’s tough enough he can be like a small-ball five.

“I mean, Draymond Green played small-ball five for the Warriors, and they won a few championships with him doing it. He’s a similar size to Draymond. We actually showed him a lot of Draymond clips. And Draymond is an OK shooter, but Mo Dioubate can make a three but he’s much better handling it, getting to the rim, getting his teammates open.

“We’ve had to kind of teach how to play in our five-out offense without being a great shooter. How do you get your teammates open? How do you find angles to get to the rim? If you put him out there with Grant at the five and Grant can shoot, space the other team’s five, or if the five ends up on him, he can drive the five. So he’s got more comfortable in our offense. He’s always been a tough guy. From the minute he stepped into practice, the live stuff.

“Nobody really wants to guard him because he’s going to come downhill and you’re going to take a shoulder through your chin. He plays with some force and some physicality, and he rebounds hard. We needed a little of that, so when he was able to get comfortable enough we could put him in more, I thought it made us tougher. Shoot, he got in tonight, had a tough second-chance point, got the O board, made a tough play in the first half. That’s what he does.”

On the blue-collar play sequence at the end of the first half

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

“I’ve got goosebumps thinking about that as you brought it up. I was thinking about it when I was talking about Dioubate – and Jarin (Stevenson), too. Jarin has come a long ways with how tough he’s playing. He’s always had some toughness to him, but he’s doing it on a consistent basis now instead of picking and choosing when he’s going to play tough. Rylan, shoot, give him three chances, and he’s probably going to make one. He’s better than a 33 percent shooter. I was fired up for that sequence. That’s exactly how we want to play. We only shot 31 percent from three. We’re closer to a 40 percent shooting team, but second-chance points, we had 19. We got three of them on that play. I thought that was huge.”

On Jarin Stevenson

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

“That allows us to play a little bit bigger. We’ve kind of put the four guards in for offense, but if you’ve got a 6-10 guy at the four shooting 4-of-6 from three, you can play bigger, rebound better, have some size on defense and play him a lot more next to Grant at the five. Shoot, he can even play some five. He’s getting tougher in there. He can guard. If you’ve got him making threes like he is and traditional fives are having to try to guard him on the offensive end, he can help us a lot. He’s grown up a lot. Like I said, he’s playing really hard. Shoot, I’m looking, he led us in +/-. In 22 and a half minutes, we were +29 with him in the game. So he’s come a long ways. He’s starting to really show what we thought he could be for us.”

On Aaron Estrada

Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images
Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

“Huge. I mean, even with playing four guards, we’re trying to get Aaron a – it’s his birthday today, so a triple-double birthday was what we were trying to preach to him. We didn’t make enough shots for him to get enough assists, but he had 15, eight and three. It’s more than a solid game on his birthday. But we need him to rebound well. (Mark) Sears is more than capable of having double-digit rebounds. He’s had that multiple times here. We need Aaron, Sears, (Latrell) Wrightsell, all of them to get in and rebound. Shoot, Sam Walters ended up with seven rebounds playing 20 minutes. We need more of that from him at 6-9. We need everybody to step up and help rebound. When you do that, you can out-rebound a pretty tough team by 11 like we did tonight.”

On where the offensive success came from against Mississippi State

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

“Our points off turnovers were a lot bigger than they’ve been most of the year. I thought we played harder on D, forced more turnovers. We’re trying to do that. We don’t have the rim protection we had last year, so we’ve got to do things a little differently on defense. We’ve been trying to get more aggressive, force more turnovers, score off those turnovers. We scored 27 – I don’t know if that’s a season for points off turnovers, but my guess would be it probably would be. I thought that’s where some came from.

“We didn’t make a ton of threes. I mean, we made 15. We took a lot. We didn’t at a high percentage. Fifteen is still a lot to make. But we didn’t shoot a high percentage, but the offensive rebounds, we had 20 O boards. I mean, we shot 83 field goals. They only shot 55. Part of that is they lived at the free-throw line. But we did get almost 30 more field goals than them. If you get 30 more, you don’t have to shoot a real high percentage to almost score 100. Eighty-three field goals is a lot of field goals. So turnovers, offensive rebounds, I thought our guys – both of those things are measured off effort. I thought our effort was pretty good tonight.”

Oats on singing Happy Birthday to Estrada

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

“We always have the freshmen, like the rookies, sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ Really bad. They’re not very good singers. But it’s good for them. It sounded about like me if I’d have sang it.”

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Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire