No. 4 seed Alabama resorted to tenacious defense to come out victorious in a hard-fought 72-61 win over No. 12 seed Grand Canyon on Sunday.

Alabama’s win sends them to their second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 and third in five seasons under Nate Oats.

Here are a few takeaways from the game.

  1. Defensive Play Improved

If Alabama wants to be successful in the NCAA Tournament, the defense has to play better. Not only did the defense play better Sunday night - it won the game for the Crimson Tide. Alabama was able to hold a good offensive Grand Canyon team to just 61 points. The Crimson Tide blocked nine shots while forcing 13 turnovers and recording 10 steals.

  1. Pringle is a Wild Card

You never know which Nick Pringle you are going to get each and every night: the player who puts in hard work underneath the basket, or the player that lets his emotions get the best of him. On Sunday, Alabama got a little bit of both. Upset with a questionable foul call, Pringle lost his cool and slammed a dry-erase board on the bench, resulting in a technical foul called on the Crimson Tide bench. On the positive side, Pringle put in some solid minutes of physical basketball in the paint for Alabama by pulling down nine rebounds and chipping in six points off the bench.

  1. Sears Was Brilliant

There is no question that Mark Sears is the heart and soul of the Alabama squad. As Sears goes, so does the Alabama offense. Sears did it all on Sunday, recording a double-double, scoring 26 points and 12 rebounds. Sears also dished out six assists and collected three steals.

  1. Fouling Frenzy

Both teams would probably argue that they were getting the raw end of the deal with the officiating. There were stretches where on one end of the floor a touch foul would be called and on the other end of the floor it looked like a boxing match with no fouls called. The entire night, both coaches and players were frustrated with the lack of consistency, not knowing what the officials considered a foul. As a result, there were a total of 48 fouls called, leaving both teams in foul trouble the entire second half.

Next for No. 4 seed Alabama is a date with No. 1 seed North Carolina on Thursday in the Sweet 16.

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