That translated to Pringle finishing with a season-high 17 points in the 109-92 road victory.
“I thought Pringle’s energy in the minutes he gave us was huge,” Oats said.
“Before the game, everybody was like, ‘Man, Pringle is ready to go.’ I told the guys after the game, there’s a way you get yourself mentally ready to play, and Nick was ready to play before the game. It’s an 11 o’clock tip, you’ve got to get yourself mentally ready to go. Some of the guys did not do a great job, and Nick obviously did.
“Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to really start playing some great basketball for us.”
Pringle, a senior forward, returned to the court on Wednesday night at Auburn after missing two games due to a suspension. Pringle wasn’t doing anything wrong off of the court, but Oats was not pleased with the way he was conducting himself on it during UA’s practices.
After not playing against Georgia and Mississippi State, Pringle logged 14 minutes at Auburn and 15 on Saturday at LSU, with the latter being arguably his best outing of the season. Oats went to Pringle early to replace Grant Nelson, who started at the five, after LSU big man Will Baker scored six of the Tigers’ first eight points and had 22 points at halftime.
Early on in his opening statement on Saturday afternoon, Oats praised Pringle’s defense on Baker in the second half, as the 7-footer only mustered two points in the final 20 minutes.
“I’m so happy for Nick,” Oats said. “He’s been up and down and in and out of the lineup and playing no minutes, some minutes. His attitude has been great all week. His effort in practice has been great all week. I think he’s at the place where he needs to be mentally, emotionally.
“He’s here to do whatever it takes to help the team win. His teammates, the Mudita that we talk about that Coach (Patrick Murphy) talked to the team about, they were so happy for him.”
Pringle finished with 17 points, five rebounds and a block in 15 minutes. Four of his rebounds were on the offensive end of the floor as Alabama ended up with a 19-6 edge over LSU on the offensive glass. Pringle was 8-for-9 from the field and 1-for-1 at the free-throw line.
He did pick up a technical foul with 5:42 to go as he yelled something at an LSU player after a dunk, which Oats discussed following the 17-point win but didn’t think too much about.
“He’s emotional, and he was really fighting Baker down there, so I didn’t want to leave him in and have him get a quick foul again,” Oats said. “I took him out and everybody was like, ‘Leave him in, leave him in.’ So I think I only had him out for about 30 seconds or so to let them calm down. … Went over to him like, ‘Nick, we calmed down? We good?’ So I put him back in.
“But all his teammates were super happy for him. I’m super happy for him. I couldn’t be more proud of Nick today.”
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