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Alabama Basketball Wins 2023 SEC Tournament

The Crimson Tide has won its second SEC Tournament title in three years.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hang another banner.

For the second time in three seasons, Alabama basketball has won the SEC Tournament. The top-seeded Crimson Tide dominated 2-seed Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 82-63.

I'm ecstatic for our guys," Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. "They're a great group of kids that bonded, played together. We had some goals at the beginning of the year, regular season championship was one of them. We got that. Tournament championship was one. They came out ready to play today."

The win marks the second time that Alabama has swept both the SEC regular season and tournament championships since Oats came to Tuscaloosa entering the 2019-20 season.

Oats ranks second among all active SEC head coaches in combined SEC regular season and tournament titles with four, trailing only Kentucky’s John Calipari. He ranks first among active SEC coaches in combined titles since he joined the league.

In defeating Texas A&M, Alabama avenged its loss to the Aggies from the regular season finale, a game that took place just eight days ago.

As the game began, the Crimson Tide came out firing on all cylinders. Mark Sears, who had previously been 2-for-17 from 3-point land for the tournament, drilled his first attempt from downtown sending the crimson sea filling Bridgestone Arena into a frenzy.

Alabama took the momentum from Sears' opening make and began a beautiful display of offensive basketball, making extra passes and slicing through the Aggie defense with ease. By the under-16 media timeout, Alabama already led 16-7.

The biggest key for the Crimson Tide was once again its defense. The unit which ranks third nationally in defensive efficiency came to play for the third consecutive day, slowing the Texas A&M attack to a halt and holding the Aggies to just 63 points on the day.

Texas A&M star Wade Taylor IV scored a modest 13 points, but did so on an abysmal 3-for-11 shooting day from the floor. Jahvon Quinerly was assigned to guarding Taylor, and did a masterful job frustrating him as a pest with his effort and intensity.

"We really challenged our guards, we had to do better," Oats said. "I thought we did a great job on some of the opposing team's best players in this tournament. Kobe Brown was First Team All-SEC, scored six on us yesterday. Wade Taylor, First Team All-SEC, didn't make his first field goal until nine minutes in the second half. I think Quinerly did an unbelievable job on Taylor today."

In addition to his stellar defensive game, Quinerly excelled offensively once again as the legend of "March JQ" continues to grow by the day. 

The senior guard scored 22 points in the game, including 13 in the first half. He shot 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and was the spark that got Alabama's offense going in his third game as a starter this season.

Quinerly's efforts earned him a spot on the All-Tournament team, his second time winning that honor after being named the tournament's MVP in 2021.

While Quinerly's play was excellent, it was Brandon Miller who took home the SEC Tournament MVP this season. Miller scored an astounding 23 points and while it came on inefficient shooting, he hit two massive threes late in the second half as the Aggies threatened to close the gap down to single digits.

And he did it all in his hometown city.

"It means a lot. Having my family come five minutes down the road to watch me play," Miller said. "I've seen friends, my high school coach was here. That's probably the best thing."

Charles Bediako once again was a force inside for the Crimson Tide, posting a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double and adding a whopping five blocks. Bediako's emergence this week as a premiere rim protector has upped Alabama's defensive presence tremendously, and entirely shifted the way teams attack the rim.

"I thought this is the best game Charles played since he's been in an Alabama uniform," Oats said.

Bediako had a +/- figure of +33 in the game.

"We were third in the country in defensive efficiency two years ago without a rim protector like him," Oats said. "We did it differently that year. This year with Charles at the rim, we're trying to send everything — run them off the three-point line and run him downhill to the rim."

The job Oats has done since taking over a middling Alabama basketball program has been nothing short of remarkable. Prior to Oats’ arrival, the Crimson Tide participated in just two NCAA Tournaments since 2008, and hadn’t won an SEC title of any sort since 2002.

For fans, it seemed like Alabama basketball had been permanently relegated to the bubble. The previous decade was spent constantly seeing the famous script “A” on Joe Lunardi’s “first four out” lists, sweating out Selection Sunday watch parties and ultimately tuning into the NIT to see Alabama play a mid-major opponent in a quarter-full Coleman Coliseum.

Now, the culture has flipped.

Alabama has turned into a consistent power in not only the SEC, but the national college basketball landscape. The Crimson Tide is all but certain to enjoy its first-ever 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament this year and will be a top-6 seed in the big dance for three straight seasons.

Alabama awaits its draw in the NCAA Tournament in tonight’s selection show, but regardless of how the season ends, the 2022-23 iteration of Alabama basketball has been one of the best in the history of the program. From setting the program wins record, to sweeping both SEC titles, to sporting the conference player of the year, the Crimson Tide faithful will forever remember this historic team.

What's next? A chance at the program’s first-ever Final Four. A feat that this team will look to accomplish as the illustrious month of March continues. 

We set goals over the summer," Quinerly said. "Regular season tournament, obviously a national championship. It's March. Any team can win on any given day. I'm going to make sure our guys are ready to go no matter who we match up with."