Alabama’s successful season came to a disappointing conclusion, courtesy of an 88-78 upset defeat to UCLA in overtime of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen. But only the game was lost, according to Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats.
“We’re a lot better team than this,” Oats told reporters. “You’ve got to be great every night in March. It’s a one-game elimination tournament. The best team doesn’t always win. The team that plays best that night wins, but it’s not always the best team.
“So really happy with the season, really proud of the guys [but] really disappointed with tonight.”
Alabama entered as a No. 2 seed. UCLA is an 11 seed and on a Cinderella run that started by beating Michigan State in one of the play-in games. The loss ends a great run for seniors Alex Reese, Herb Jones and John Petty. All three were in-state recruits back in 2017 and among perhaps the best class in Crimson Tide history.
And this was undoubtedly a historical season for the Tide.
“I’ll remember this team as the one that changed the entire culture of Alabama basketball,” Oats said. “People think about Alabama way different. I told my guys I’m going to be talking about this team the next 30 years I’m coaching.”