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Alabama Goes Small to Win Big Against Florida

By Mason Smith,


The Crimson Tide went away from its traditional two-big lineup to match up against the Gators.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A strength of Alabama basketball has been its size in the frontcourt.

Very few team can match up with a Crimson Tide lineup that has 6-foot-10 Noah Clowney and 7-footer Charles Bediako, and that advantage has worked well so far this season. When the Florida Gators came into town, head coach Nate Oats used the same starting lineup that utilized that size advantage: Jaden Bradley, Mark Sears and Brandon Miller on the perimeter, Clowney and Bediako on the interior.

But Oats used a different approach in the 97-69 victory over Florida, opting for a smaller lineup with a combination of three guards, either Brandon Miller or Dom Welch at the 4-spot, and either Bediako or Clowney as the big man.

"[Florida] plays four guards," Nate Oats said about using the small-ball lineup. "So we started with the same lineup, and once we moved Clowney to the 5, we pretty much went with Clowney, Charles or Pringle at the 5.

"Once we got away from the starting group, we went with four guards out there, played Brandon or Dom at the 4. We just felt like it was a better matchup with what they had on the floor."

Oats also mentioned that the use of small ball was why Noah Gurley did not play, the first time this season he didn't touch the court.

"He's doing fine, he's just not a guard and he would be our fourth center," Oats said.

The small-ball lineup was effective the first half as seven players scored and four players scored more than eight points. Alabama was also able to rebound well in the first 20 minutes, leading Florida 22-17 on the boards, including a 16-9 advantage on the defensive glass.

Early in the second half, Alabama's energy and execution was poor early on as the Gators opened with a 14-5 run. Alabama still chose to maintain it's small-ball philosophy, but after not playing in the first half, Oats subbed in Nick Pringle as the big man. The JuCo transfer responded with what he does best: energy plays, from a block on defense to an alley-oop dunk on offense.

Pringle finished with four points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 12 minutes of action.

"I thought he did well for us. He played hard, he's been having good practices so it's nice to be able to reward him with some minutes tonight," Oats said.

Miller also had positive views of Pringle's play, saying that Pringle "brings the energy on and off the court" and "having a guy like that keeps everybody together."

The small-ball lineup could be a weapon for future opponents, starting with a road game against Auburn. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT on ESPN.

See also: No. 3 Alabama Stays Hot at Home in Thumping of Florida

Jahvon Quinerly Is Starting to Hit His Stride for Alabama

Brandon Miller Named Top-10 Finalist for Julius Irving Award

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