Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats

Opening statement … 

“Tough game. I mean, they’re one of the better teams in the country. They’re hard to score on, did a better job defensively on us than anyone all year. They made it tough for us to score in the paint. Nick Richards, he had five blocks. You try to tell your guys what it’s going to be like trying to score at the rim on these guys. We should have taken a few more spaced-out threes to get in the game. I don’t know how you emulate it. Add (EJ) Montgomery and (Keion Brooks Jr.) and that’s NBA-level protection. Defensively, they did a great job. We played hard. We went 4 of 21 from three. A lot of that is because of their play. They have length, they contest the threes and they make you miss. We’ve been shooting at a pretty high clip. We needed to shoot it a lot better than 4 of 21 from three if we want to have a chance in this game. I’ve played against them as a coach. They always play hard, defense is always elite, they have length all over the floor and athleticism. They try to take you out from what you do. Kira (Lewis Jr.) and (John Petty Jr.) have been good for us, they limited Kira to 10 (points). I thought he played very well, just they were making it hard for him to score. We need to guide other guys to make shots. We need to spread out and not go 4 of 21. On our defensive end, I thought the second half was a whole lot better than the first half. They shoot 56% in the first half, plus (Nick) Richards and the other bigs hitting jumpers started to hurt us. I didn’t think we played hard enough in contesting them. Attribute it to our guys, they didn’t play hard enough in the second half. That Kentucky team, they’re as good as anybody I’d seen, and I’ve seen everyone in the country. If you take away those threes, it’s a different game. That is on them for getting their shooters shots when they needed to. They had big-time players who stepped up and made shots when they needed to make them.” 

On three-point shooting at the end of the game …

“Coming in the game, there are 353 Division I teams. Kentucky is 351st in shots coming from three, so you don’t think they’re going to kill you from three. We hit four, they hit nine, and threeof the nine came in the last few minutes. Hagans, though it seems like he doesn’t make a ton of threes, he hits timely threes. The one where he came off the screen and hit the pull-up was huge. Then, with nine seconds left, they call a timeout, come out a timeout and drill a three. Great play, knowing how we guard inbounds plays. We were supposed to switch that out, it didn’t get switched. We should have gone smaller so maybe it was likely that we had a guy that could switch out on him. That play is on the coaching staff, they did a better job coming out the timeout than we did.”

On the impact Immanuel Quickley has when consistently making threes 

“With him shooting like that, it’s a completely different team. If he shoots 5 of 6 from three, I am not sure who is better than that in the country. You know, he goes 5 of 6, there is probably a reason he played 34 minutes tonight.”

On Herbert Jones attempting 20 field goals 

“Look, the way they were going to guard him and guard us, they are maybe as good as any team in the country at taking your best scorer or top two scorers out of the game. Kira (Lewis Jr.) and (John Petty Jr.), you look at those two, 4 for 11 and 6 for 15, not terrible games but usually a lot better. We needed someone else to step up.”

On scoring points in the paint … 

“We didn’t. A bunch of them were in transition, I’m going toguess, and some second-chance points off of offensive rebounds. Well, the only thing, too is we did have shooting all over the floor when (Alex) Reese is playing the five. I mean, Galin(Smith) drove right down Reese on the high-ball screen, they weren’t going to help off that. Their game plan was not to give us threes. They executed their game out to perfection. We hit four threes. So, they did exactly what their coach told them to do. Look, we’ve got some pretty good players. You’re not going to be able to take everything away. So, yeah, we did get by, we got to the rim. We need to do a little better job getting to the rim a little more on open action, getting (Nick) Richards out of there. We just can’t play Reese 40 minutes and pull Richards away from him more when you got Jaylen (Forbes) and Javian(Davis) in there, Richards is going to be at the rim more often. They’re used to playing down inside, so we got the five at the blocks. We outscored them in the paint, and again, that speaks to what we wanted to do. We wanted to take away the rim for them and make them shoot threes. Well, they made them. We didn’t do a good enough job making them miss. So, they did a little better job executing their game plan than we did today.”

On Alabama’s performance from three-point range 

“You know what, I’d have to go back to the video and watch it to tell you exactly. Right now, in my mind there were definitely three threes that we should not have taken that I thought were contested. If you’re contested, you’ve got to drive it. When you drive it, they do a really good job of collapsing for the most part, then you can get your buddy an open three, hopefully. So, some of them were not good threes, but I’d say this, man, with the way they protect the rim, we shot 76 shots. You look, we got 13 more shots up than them. We were even on the glass and we won the turnover margin. If you get 13 more shots up than them, I’d like to get a lot more up than six threes. You know, hopefully if we shot 30 threes, our percentage would go up a little more with the more you get. We tried to tell some of these guys, when you get in there and there’s a shot blocker at the end, you don’t want to shoot that, you want to spread that thing out and get the right three. We didn’t do a great job of that. To be honest with you, I’m going to guess 17 or 18 of those threes weren’t bad ones. They were pretty good. And we missed some looks, and they didn’t give us enough threes, which is credit to them and they made us miss some of the ones that we maybe typically would’ve made with other teams the way they would’ve guarded us in the past.”