Despite Winning Streak, Nate Oats 'Frustrated' Following Kansas State

Joey Blackwell

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — “Frustrated.”

That’s the word Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats used to describe himself Saturday night following the Crimson Tide’s 77-74 win over Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

“Yeah I was really frustrated,” Oats said. “I mean, like, we wanna be tougher than the teams we play and I felt like we got — I mean one of the areas you can look at a stat sheet and see how hard we play is rebounding and they destroyed us on the glass so I know we play small sometimes but I didn’t think that was the issue as much as it was we just didn’t give an effort when we needed to.”

All throughout the game, Oats displayed his most-animated performance of the year on the Alabama sideline, constantly pacing and yelling at both at the referees and players, while barking directions at his team.

While it’s a side we've seen from Oats before, his frustration had never been more apparent than Saturday night. 

“We got to do a better job,” Oats said. “I just get a little frustrated over there like, you know, offensively. We’re so much better when we’re playing off our stops in the flow and transition.

“We need to get more in transition. That means our defense has to be better which we just got to keep working at. We just got to get better.”

Starting with Alabama’s big win over Auburn back on Jan. 15, the Crimson Tide has gone on to win three more games and is currently riding a four-game winning streak. However, problems that plagued Alabama at the start of the season have started to rear their ugly heads again, chiefly among those issues being turnovers and offensive rebounding.

The Crimson Tide turned the ball over 16 times against the Wildcats. While that’s an improvement over its previous outing against Vanderbilt last Wednesday (25) , it’s still far from what Oats wants to see out of his squad.

The Crimson Tide only has one game so far this season that saw a single-digit number in turnovers. That one game? Ironically, Alabama’s loss at Kentucky on Jan. 11 with only eight.

Offensive rebounding is the other plight. Against Kansas State, the Alabama grabbed only three. The Wildcats registered 22.

Against Auburn and Missouri, Alabama recorded six and nine offensive rebounds, respectively. The Vanderbilt game serves as an outlier, where the Crimson Tide had 13 offensive rebounds in a strong performance.

Oats says the cause for both issues lies in the effort displayed by his team, and he's looking for improvement Wednesday at LSU (6 p.m. CT, ESPN 2).

“We need to get that fixed," Oats said. "LSU crashes the boards hard. I’ve watched a half-dozen games or so of their already and we’re going to have a problem if we don’t start rebounding the ball a lot better than we did today.”

LSU remains undefeated in the SEC at 6-0 and is 15-4 overall. 

The Tigers average 13.8 turnovers a game, besting the Crimson Tide at 15.9.

On the rebounding side of things, LSU is averaging 10.9 offensive boards per game while Alabama is averaging 9.8.

One key factor contributing to the low rebounding numbers is redshirt-freshman Javian Davis, as the 6-foot-9 forward who suffered a bone bruise against Vanderbilt. Davis’ minutes were limited to just four on Saturday.

A healthier Davis should help Alabama (12-7, 4-2 SEC), but it'll still be a tough matchup for Oats and Alabama.

“There’s a lot of things I think we need to learn in this game,” Oats said. “It’s great if you can learn them and still get a win which we did.”