By now you’ve probably heard the story of how Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats worked at Michigan State basketball camps during the summers while he was running the program at Michigan’s Romulus High School.
Now he will try to beat his mentor and friend Tom Izzo.
Alabama and Michigan State will meet for only the third time Thursday night when they play in a top-20 duel in the first round of the prestigious Phil Knight Invitational over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Crimson Tide’s first game against a Power 5 opponent this season will be against a very good opponent who already defeated the then No. 1. 4 Kentucky and Villanova that season, losing 64-63 to No. 2 Gonzaga.
“You’re not going to hit yourself,” Oats said this week.
Should we mention that Izzo and Nick Saban are friends?
Here’s how you watch Alabama vs. Michigan State
who: Alabama (4-0) vs. Michigan State (3-1)
When: 9:30pm CT, Thursday
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
TV: ESPN; play-by-play Roxy Bernstein, Analyst: Bill Walton; sideline Myron Medcalf)
Live broadcast: fuboTV (start free trial)
radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-Play: Roger Hoover, Analyst: Bryan Passink). The pregame show starts an hour before the tip.
Series: Draw 1:1.
Phil Knight invitation preview
tournament bracket: The teams are on the same page as UConn and Oregon. The winning teams will play at 9:00 PM CT on Friday, followed by the two losing teams.
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Last meeting: The last meeting took place on December 23, 1998. Michigan State won 75-58 in the Pearl Harbor Classic championship game. Izzo was the Spartans coach when he took over the program in 1995. The Crimson Tide won the first meeting between the programs in 1983.
Last time, Alabama: The Crimson Tide hit 21 threes in their 104-62 home win over Jacksonville State on Friday. The win marked the third time in program history that Alabama (4-0) had 20 or more three-pointers in a game, with all three instances under head coach Nate Oats. It was also the seventh time in four years that the Crimson Tide had reached the century mark. Freshman Brandon Miller had the best season with 28 points, including 20 in the second half. The freshman fired 9 of 12 shots from the field and 7 of 9 from 3-point range. Nimari Burnett and Mark Sears both contributed 18 points, a career high for Burnett. Alabama entered the game and led the nation in rebounding, finishing with a 49-25 advantage. Alabama is now outscoring teams by averaging 27.3 points (84.8-57.5) and overtaking the competition at 24.5 boards per game.
Last time, Michigan State: The Spartans took a 16-point lead in the second half and held on to a 73-71 win over Villanova in a Gavitt Tipoff game at the Breslin Center on Friday night. Senior guard Tyson Walker led MSU with 22 points, added five assists and three rebounds, and led four players by double digits. Junior guard AJ Hoggard had a double-double with 13 points and tied his career-high 10 assists while leading the team with eight rebounds, graduate forward Joey Hauser scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and had two assists and senior forward Malik Hall added 12 points, two rebounds and two assists. Sophomore guard Jaden Akins had nine points and five rebounds off the bench.
Alabama arrives practicing at the Phil Knight Invitational
Hints you need to know
- The Crimson Tide are looking to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 2017/18.
- Brandon Miller was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday. He averages 20.2 points per game, the most of any freshman in the country and No. 40 overall, and 3.75 3-point points, which is No. 12.
- Alabama leads the nation in rebounds per game (56.0), offensive rebounds per game (19.5), and rebound margin (24.5).
- Alabama’s newcomers have scored 294 of the Tide’s 339 points this season.
- Noah Clowney is ranked No. 21 in the country at averaging 10.5 rebounds per game and ranked No. 1 in the SEC. Charles Bediako is No. 19 with a 4.0 offensive rebound/
- Alabama has 44 3-pointers this season, the most under Nate Oats in the first four games of the season.
- The Crimson Tide is making 11 3-pointers per game, which is 14th in Division I.
- Alabama welcomed the highest-ranking recruiting class in the program’s history, including McDonald’s High School All-Americans Jaden Bradley and Miller, and four-star nominees Clowney and Rylan Griffen.
- The Tide is one of only seven schools (Arizona, Creighton, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA) to have a player on the watchlists of Bob Cousy, Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar this preseason.
About the state of Michigan
- Michigan State kicked off the 2022-23 season with arguably one of the toughest opening months in college basketball. In 2016-17, the Spartans faced No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Kentucky, and No. 10 Arizona. This year, the Spartans will face five teams ranked in the AP preseason Top 25 (Gonzaga, #6; Indiana, #11; Kentucky, #15; Illinois: #16; Alabama, #18 ). Since 2009-10, Michigan State has been one of only six teams (including the 2016-17 team) to face at least four AP ranked opponents in November. Michigan State is the only team to have two teams in the top four at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis with No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 4 Kentucky. It lost the first and beat the second.
- The Spartans brought back nine letterwinners from last year’s team, which finished 23-13 overall and 11-9 in the Big Ten and reached the NCAA tournament for the 24th straight season. Head coach Tom Izzo welcomed back five players who started at least one game last year, as well as a trio of seniors – forwards Malik Hall and Joey Hauser and guard Tyson Walker – who have played 278 games combined and started 177 games in their careers.
- The Spartans welcomed four newcomers to the 2022-23 team. The freshman class includes a group of players expected to make contributions straight away: forward Jaxon Kohler, guard Tre Holloman and center Carson Cooper, and walk-on guard Nick Sanders.
- The Spartans returned more than 50 percent of their rebounds (55.1 percent), with second-best rebounders Hauser (5.3) and Hall (4.6, third on team) among the returners.
Invitation from Phil Knight
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Alabama basketball stays steady in AP, coach poll falls
Brandon Miller Named SEC Freshman of the Week
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