Alabama basketball fans greet team to celebrate first SEC basketball title since 2002

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

Following Alabama's 64-59 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night, fans flocked to Coleman Coliseum to welcome the SEC champions back to Tuscaloosa.

"This is the whole reason I came here," said UA freshman Liam Owsley. "This is my first year at UA, and I always wanted to come here because of sports. I'm so relieved that we won."

The smell of victory cigars and chants of "Roll Tide Roll" and "SEC" filled the warm February air, as did fans singing along to "Dixieland Delight," "Sweet Home Alabama," and "We Are The Champions."

The loudest cheers of the night came when the team finally stepped off the busses and coach Nate Oats and Alabama players went around giving fans high-fives.

Alabama head coach Nate Oats greets fans outside of Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi State on Saturday, February 27, 2021 to claim its first regular season SEC championship since 2002. [Photo/Hannah Saad]

"It means everything to me," said Alabama fan Cody Kirk. "I've been coming here since I was a kid, watching all the struggles we've been through. We won the SEC in 2002, we went to the Elite Eight in 2004, but this one is special."

Kirk said it was special for two reasons in particular: last season's premature ending due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his 5-year-old son, Parker.

"Right after the game, I thought, you know what, let's go make the drive to Coleman to welcome the team home. So I got in the car with my son, we came here, and we celebrated."

Parker agreed with his father. "It feels amazing."