Sears leads No. 17 Alabama to bounce-back win over Oregon
NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Mark Sears scored 27 points, Aaron Estrada added 22 and No. 17 Alabama followed its first loss with a 99-91 victory over Oregon on Saturday in the third-place game of the Emerald Coast Classic.
Those two were among four Alabama players scoring in double figures in a mid-afternoon game after the Crimson Tide’s 92-81 loss to Ohio State on Friday night.
The Crimson Tide expanded an eight-point halftime lead with a 15-5 surge, capped by Estrada’s 3-pointer with 9:28 remaining, for a 78-61 lead. Alabama led by as much as 18 before Oregon got within six points with 2:46 left, but couldn’t get closer.
“It was good to come out of here with a win,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We didn’t play our best basketball against Ohio State and they did a great job. I challenged our guys to be better on defense and I thought we played a lot harder.
“We played two high-major opponents that kind of exposed some deficiencies on defense and we’ve got to get better at that in coming weeks.”
The game at Raider Arena at Northwest Florida State College was the first meeting between these teams in seven years. Jermaine Couisnard led Oregon with 24 points.
The game’s fast pace led to the teams combining for 12 fouls in the first six minutes of the second half. Both teams were in the bonus with 11:41 remaining.
Alabama led 47-39 after a first half where both teams went on runs. Oregon led 17-10 before Alabama went on a 20-5 surge to take an eight-point lead with 7:01 left on Grant Nelson’s finish inside.
“For a team that is really banged up and has a lot of injuries, Oregon did a great job hanging in there with us, and never let it get too far away,” Oats said.
The Ducks came back with a 15-6 push, before the Crimson Tide answered with an 11-2 run where four players scored. Sears led Alabama with 13 first-half points. Couisnard had 16 for Oregon.
Alabama: Alabama produced an emphatic win that will likely keep it in the rankings when the next AP poll is released. The Crimson Tide have not lost consecutive games since the final two regular-season games in 2022.
Oregon: The Ducks’ cross-country trip resulted in a pair of defeats, but they will have a chance to get back on track with a favorable home schedule in December.
STAT OF GAME
Alabama decided the game at the free throw line, converting 26 of 28 attempts and getting to the line 13 more times than Oregon. Sears led the way, converting all nine of his attempts.
Alabama will face Clemson on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, as part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge series. It will be one of just three home games for Alabama through the end of 2023.
Oregon returns home to prepare for next Saturday’s home game against Michigan. It will be the first of five home games in a six-game span in December.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball
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