By now you’ve probably heard the story about how Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats used to work Michigan State basketball camps during the summer when he was running the program at Romulus High School in Michigan.
Now he’s going to try and beat his mentor and friend, Tom Izzo.
Alabama and Michigan State will meet for only the third time on Thursday night when they play in a top-20 matchup in the first round of the prestigious Phil Knight Invitational over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Crimson Tide’s first game against a Power 5 opponent this season will be against a very good one, that has already defeated then-No. 4 Kentucky and Villanova this season, and lost 64-63 to No. 2 Gonzaga.
“They’re not gonna beat themselves,” Oats said this week.
Should we mention that Izzo and Nick Saban are friends?
How to Watch Alabama vs. Michigan State
Who: Alabama (4-0) vs. Michigan State (3-1)
When: 9:30 p.m. CT, Thursday
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
TV: ESPN; Play-by-play Roxy Bernstein, Analyst: Bill Walton; Sidelines Myron Medcalf)
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-By-Play: Roger Hoover, Analyst: Bryan Passink). The pregame show will begin one hour prior to tipoff.
Series: Tied 1-1.
Phil Knight Invitational Preview
Tournament bracket: The teams are on the same side of the bracket as UConn and Oregon The winning teams will play at 9 pm CT Friday, followed by the two losing teams.
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Last Meeting: The last meeting was Dec. 23, 1998. Michigan State won 75-58 in the championship game of the Pearl Harbor Classic. Izzo was the coach for the Spartans as he took over the program in 1995. The Crimson Tide won the first meeting between the programs in 1983.
Last time out, Alabama: The Crimson Tide hit 21 three-pointers during its 104-62 home win over Jacksonville State on Friday. The win marked the third time in program history that Alabama (4-0) has made 20 or more threes in a game, with all three instances coming under head coach Nate Oats. It was also the seventh time over the last four years that the Crimson Tide had hit the century mark. Freshman Brandon Miller had a season-best 28 points including 20 in the second half. The freshman shot 9-of-12 shots from the field and 7-of-9 from 3-point range. Nimari Burnett and Mark Sears both contributed 18 points, a career-high for Burnett. Alabama entered the game leading the nation in rebounding, and finished with a 49- 25 edge. Alabama is now outscoring teams by and averaging of 27.3 points (84.8- 57.5) and beyondbounding the competition 24.5 boards per game.
Last time out, Michigan State: The Spartans took a 16-point lead in the second half and hung on for a 73-71 over Villanova on Friday night in a Gavitt Tipoff Game at the Breslin Center. Senior guard Tyson Walker led MSU with 22 points, while adding five assists and three rebounds, to lead four players in double figures. Junior guard AJ Hoggard had a double-double with 13 points and tied his career-high with 10 assists, while leading the team with eight rebounds, graduate forward Joey Hauser scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and had two assists and senior forward Malik Hall added 12 points, two rebounds and two assists. Sophomore guard Jaden Akins chipped in nine points and five rebounds off the bench.
Alabama Arrivals, Practices at Phil Knight Invitational
Notes You Need To Know
- The Crimson Tide is looking to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 2017-18.
- Brandon Miller was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday. He’s averaging 20.2 points per game, the most by any freshman in the country and No. 40 overall, and 3.75 3-pointers, which ranks No. 12.
- Alabama leads the nation in rebounds per game (56.0), offensive rebounds per game (19.5) and rebound margin (24.5).
- Alabama’s newcomers have scored 294 of the Tide’s 339 points this season.
- Noah Clowney ranks No. 21 in the country averaging 10.5 rebounds per game and No. 1 in the SEC. Charles Bediako is No. 19 averaging 4.0 offensive rebounds/
- Alabama has made 44 3-pointers this season, the most under Nate Oats in the first four games of the season.
- The Crimson Tide is making 11 3-pointers per game, which ranks No. 14 in Division I.
- Alabama welcomed the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history, including McDonald’s High School All-Americans Jaden Bradley and Miller, along with four-star prospects Clowney and Rylan Griffen.
- The Tide is one of just seven schools (Arizona, Creighton, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA) to have a player named to the Bob Cousy, Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watch lists this preseason.
About Michigan State
- Michigan State has started the 2022-23 season with arguably one of the toughest opening months in college basketball. In 2016-17, the Spartans faced No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 10 Arizona. This year, the Spartans will face five teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 (Gonzaga, No. 6; Indiana, No. 11; Kentucky, No. 15; Illinois: No. 16; Alabama, No. 18). Since 2009-10, Michigan State is one of only six teams (including that 2016-17 team) to play at least four AP ranked opponents in the month of November. Michigan State is the only team to play two teams in the top four, with No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 4 Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. It lost the first and beat the second.
- The Spartans returned nine letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 23-13 overall and 11-9 in the Big Ten and reached the NCAA Tournament for the 24th-straight season. Head Coach Tom Izzo welcomed back five players who started at least one game last year, and a trio of seniors – forwards Malik Hall and Joey Hauser and guard Tyson Walker – who have combined to play 278 games and started 177 games in their careers.
- The Spartans welcomed four freshmen to the 2022-23 team. The freshmen class includes a group of players expected to make contributions immediately: forward Jaxon Kohler, guard Tre Holloman and center Carson Cooper, as well as walk-on guard Nick Sanders.
- The Spartans returned more than 50 percent of their rebounds (55.1 percent), with second-leading rebounder Hauser (5.3) and Hall (4.6, third on the team) among the returnees.
Phil Knight Invitational
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Brandon Miller Named SEC Freshman of The Week
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