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Alabama basketball coach says he won’t jump ship for Kentucky

Alabama head coach Nate Oats speaks to the media during a news conference ahead of a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. UConn plays Alabama on Saturday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/AP
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AP
Alabama head coach Nate Oats speaks to the media during a news conference ahead of a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. UConn plays Alabama on Saturday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats reassured fans in Tuscaloosa over rumors he might leave the Crimson Tide for Kentucky. The news follows the reported departure of Wildcats’ coach John Calipari for a possible job at Arkansas, and Alabama’s defeat at the hands of UConn in the men’s basketball Final Four.

Oats wrote on the social media site “X…”

"Bama Nation, I am fully committed to this team and this University. We have already accomplished some great things here, and there is nothing I want more than for the University of Alabama to win its first national championship in men's basketball. Despite any rumors to the contrary, rest assured that I will continue that pursuit as your head coach. Roll Tide!"

Oats’ statement comes one day after Kentucky coach John Calipari announced he is close to inking a deal for the same job at Arkansas. The Crimson Tide made its first appearance in the Final Four, and only its second appearance in the “Elite Eight” in program history.

The AP reported following Alabama Final Four loss to UConn how the Tide was unable to contain the Huskies who steamrolled through this NCAA Tournament on its way to becoming the first back-to-back champions since 2007.

“We just came up a little short tonight,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the Final Four loss. “But we came up short against a great team.”

Alabama had its moments. Mark Sears splashed home 3-pointers and made circus shots at the rim, finishing with 24 points. Nelson's stunning dunk drew the biggest roar of either Final Four game. Aaron Estrada scored 13 and even had some good-natured banter with UConn fans while guarding an inbounds pass.

The Tide certainly weren't scared. They're still heading back to Tuscaloosa a few days earlier than they had hoped.

Alabama pushed UConn more than any other team in the tournament. When Nelson — who finished with 19 points — made a short hook shot in the lane with 12:41 left, the game was tied at 56-all and the impossible suddenly seemed a little bit possible.

“They’re a great offensive team,” Huskies coach Danny Hurley said. “I mean, they’re like the hardest team to guard.”

It was a short-lived moment. The Huskies made an 8-0 run that put them ahead for good. Sears made one more long 3-pointer to cut the margin to 76-68 with 2:54 left, but Clingan responded with two dunks on the next two possessions.

“We played well, we played hard,” Estrada said. “It was just the little details where we didn't compete well enough — being mentally locked in for 40 minutes. At times, we missed assignments. All of that stuff kind of added up.”

Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats signed a new contract last month that was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees. The Tide hired Oats in 2019 from Buffalo, where he helped turn the Bulls into an NCAA Tournament team and conference champion. He replaced Avery Johnson, who led the Tide to one NCAA tourney in four seasons.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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