A chaotic start to the college basketball slate on Saturday after the No. 12, No. 13 and No. 15-ranked teams all lost to unranked opponents continued into the afternoon slate with a stunner as unranked Oklahoma walloped No. 2 Alabama 93-69 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Norman, Oklahoma. OU led for all but 29 seconds inside its own arena with a dominant showing on both ends to send home the red-hot Crimson Tide with their biggest losing margin since Nate Oats took over the program.
Alabama (18-3) has this season done similar things to its opponents that OU (12-9) did to it on Saturday -- the Tide's scoring margin entering the day was No. 3 among all power conference programs -- after a recent streak to open the 2023 calendar year in which it beat Ole Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU by an average of 25.8 points per game.
OU had just about everything working for it against the Tide after entering the day on a three-game losing streak in which almost nothing was going right. Nevada transfer guard Grant Sherfield was the accelerant that poured gasoline on the blowout fire with a season-high 30 points to go along with six assists. He got plenty of help, too, with Jalen Hill pouring in 26 points and the team shooting a combined 9 of 13 from 3-point range against an Alabama defense that ranked No. 2 nationally in 3-point shooting percentage allowed on the season.
On defense is where the war was won for OU pitted against an Alabama offense that plays with as much tempo and possesses as much explosive scoring ability as any in the country. Bama freshman Brandon Miller, who came in averaging 19.5 ppg, was held to 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting while the team finished 6 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Here are a few takeaways from the game.
Tide remains projected No. 1 seed in Bracketology
A loss to an unranked team -- and by a whopping 24 points -- doesn't exactly inspire confidence in its prospects moving forward. But the Crimson Tide's status as a projected No. 1 seed in March Madness remains unchanged, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm, who says despite the loss they will for now remain as the No. 2 overall seed in his projected bracket.
"Going into this weekend, there has been some separation at the top of the bracket between the top two teams, Purdue and Alabama, and the rest of the field," Palm said. "It's not the gap we had in 2021 when Baylor and Gonzaga dominated college basketball, but it's a noticeable gap nonetheless. Alabama's blowout loss at Oklahoma has closed that gap some, but the strength of the Crimson Tide's resume, which includes six Quad 1 wins and seven wins over teams in the current bracket projection, is still sufficient for them to remain No. 2 overall for now."
Hill, Sherfield duo is dynamic for OU
Hill had a career-high 26 points and Sherfield came one point short of matching a career-high with 30 points for Oklahoma. The duo combined to make 20 of OU's 34 field goals in the winning effort and came out strong with a combined 31 points in the first half -- two fewer than Bama scored in the first half as a team. Their scoring opened up opportunities for easy looks elsewhere too with Tanner Groves getting an easy 14 and nine different players making at least one bucket in the effort.
Alabama's Miller goes quiet in loss
The key to opening up Alabama's offense this season has centered around the scoring and shooting of Miller, who against OU was held to 11 points -- his lowest output in 10 games and third-lowest scoring total in a game all season -- on 14 total shots. He got very little help from his teammates -- the team shot 37.9% from the field -- but his being bottled up by OU may lay the blueprint for how to tactically pick apart this dynamic Alabama team moving forward.