Alabama at Missouri
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.
When: 1:30 p.m. CT
Records: Alabama 16-14 (8-9 SEC) at Missouri 14-16 (6-11 SEC)
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM
It’s an unavoidable Missouri pun, but University of Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats has the perfect attitude for Saturday’s regular season finale at Mizzou Arena.
After expressing disappointment in his team’s effort in Tuesday’s home loss to Vanderbilt, Oats said that while results were important, his first priorities in the Missouri game were attitude and effort.
“You’re going to get outplayed sometimes. That’s sports. I can live with that. But when the other team plays harder than you, I’m not going to sleep that night.”
Oats returned to that theme on Friday as Alabama prepared to travel to Missouri.
“We’ve got to get the culture to a point where if one guy decides not to bring his best effort, he’s out of place because everyone else is going so hard,” Oats said. “And it’s not there yet. If it was there, we wouldn’t have had what we had Tuesday night. That wouldn’t have happened.”
Alabama has defeated Missouri once this season, winning 88-74 on Jan. 18 in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers, who have home wins over Florida and Auburn this season, are listed as a one-point favorite on Saturday.
There was good news in the injury department regarding junior forward John Petty’s elbow hyperextension.
“I’m finally starting to get my extension back (and) get my range back in my shot. So everything’s coming along faster than we expected. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for Saturday,” Petty said.
It was Petty’s first session with the media since he suffered the injury in Starkville on Feb. 22.
“I remember there was a loose ball,” he said. “I tried to plant my hand down to get it, and then I felt someone dive into the back of (my arm) and it was just like a shock, numbness through the arm. I thought it was broke, honestly. Like (UA athletic trainer) Clarke (Holter) said, we’re lucky. We dodged a huge bullet.”
Oats confirmed Petty was probable for Missouri.
“He practiced today so he should be good to go,” Oats said. “We looked a lot better with him than we did without him, that’s for sure. There is the shot-making but there is a lot more to it than that.”
Oats also briefly discussed an in-huddle moment that was captured by SEC Network cameras during the loss to Vanderbilt, in which he described an unseen Alabama player as “softer than (poop),” although he used a stronger synonym for “poop.” The fiery speech wouldn’t make Nick Saban’s all-time Top 1,000 list of in-game effort critiques, but it did make the rounds of social media on Thursday.
I’m not getting into all of that,” Oats said. “All I know is we weren’t bringing the effort we needed to. Ideally, that camera’s not in the timeout at that time. It happened. There’s a saying, ‘Everybody wants to eat the sausage after it’s made. Nobody wants to see the sausage get made.’
“… I love all of our guys, but some of them weren’t bringing the effort we needed. Some of them didn’t have the attitude we needed at that particular time.”
Depending on the outcome of the SEC Saturday games, Alabama will finish as either the No. 9 or No. 10 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville. The Crimson Tide has been either the No. 9 or No. 10 seed in five of the six previous tournaments dating back to 2014.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @cecilhurt