TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WSFA) - When the Alabama Crimson Tide takes the court at Coleman Coliseum Saturday, the team will be ready to defend an undefeated conference record.
Alabama has opened the SEC schedule with a spotless 5-0 start that includes road wins over then seventh-ranked Tennessee, and a rivalry victory over Auburn last weekend.
Now in his second season, head coach Nate Oats says it’s becoming easier for the team work together.
“We understand how to motivate them a little bit better,” said Oats. “They understand the offense a little bit better. We’ve gotten to know them a little bit better as players – how to put them in a position to succeed, but I think as you’re here longer and longer, more and more of that gets established.”
Building chemistry has paid off for the Tide so far this season. The team is off to its best start since the 1987 season, when they won eight straight in league play.
This year, Alabama has won six straight games, and seven of their last eight. The team boasts the top offense in SEC play, averaging just over 83 points per game.
“I feel like all the guys have been locked into the scouting report, locked into the film and basically locked into the game plan coach wants us to execute going out,” said senior guard John Petty Jr. “I feel like the focus the guys are coming in with and just the effort we’re bringing is what’s kicking us off.”
“The way we come into games and the mindset when we come into games lately since we came into the SEC has been huge for success, so us gelling at this time around is great. So, we just gotta stay persistent and consistent with it,” added sophomore shooter Jalen Shackelford.
However, they’ll be hosting an Arkansas team that’s just as lethal on offense, with five players averaging double digits. The Razorbacks have dominated the series in recent years, winning the last six meetings. They lead the all-time series 35-28.
But, Arkansas is coming off a brutal 92-76 road loss to LSU, and that motivation will provide an extra challenge for the Tide come game time.
“They’re a good team, and I think we’re probably catching them at the exact wrong time, to be honest with you,” said Oats. “I would have much rather had them win against LSU than lose the way they did.”
Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.