The Crimson Tide basketball team improved to 2-1 on the season by defeating UNLV by a score of 86-74 on Tuesday night. The Maui Invitational will conclude tomorrow as the Tide will play Providence at 6 p.m. CT in Asheville, NC.
Bama got off to a fast start, hitting three straight long range jumpers to open the game before Caleb Grill of UNLV went crazy, throwing shots in from every angle. Grill and the Tide’s John Petty traded three point jumpers throughout the first half and the teams took a 38-38 score into the locker room.
Freshman Josh Primo came off the bench and gave the Tide some great minutes in the first half, showing flashes of the potential we have heard so much about. At the half Grill had 17 points and Petty had 14. The Tide cooled down after their fast start and shot 12-30 for 40% in the first half, including 8-23 from three point range. The Rebels hit 16-36 for 44% at the break including 6-17 from deep.
Just like the first period, the Tide started the second half hot with Petty and Jaden Shackelford combining for three quick triples. Bama never relinquished the lead once they grabbed it. Jahvon Quinerly and Herbert Jones joined in the party and the Tide finished with five players in double figures.
Around the 10 minute mark the lead expanded to nine and the Tide never let it get below six points the rest of the way. Bama heated up in the second half and shot 17-30 for 57% and 7-17 from deep for 41%, while UNLV hit 13-33 and 7-16 from deep. For the game the Tide improved from their first two games and finished 29-60 for 49% and 15-40 from three point range for 38%. The Rebels did out rebound the Tide by 37-36 which was still a big improvement for Bama. The Tide finished with 21 assists with 11 turnovers, four blocks, and four steals. UNLV had 13 assists, 10 turnovers, two blocks, and six steals.
Petty had by far his best game of the year with 22 point on 7-12 shooting, with 6-10 from three point range. The Huntsville senior led the team with six assists and added four rebounds with only one turnover. Quinerly hit 6-6 free throws down the stretch and finished with 19 points and four assists. Jones had 16 points, including two monster dunks and made three pointer. The senior from Greensboro added four rebounds and two assists. Shackelford added 13 points and Primo had 11, making 3-6 three point attempts. Jordan Bruner was the leading rebounder with seven. Grill poured in 27 points for the Rebels.
Oats shortened his rotation, with only eight players seeing action. He also increased the minutes for the starters. Jones played 35 minutes, Petty 33, Quinerly 30, Shackelford 28, and Bruner 26. Primo saw 17 minutes of action, James Rojas logged 16 minutes, and Alex Reese was on the floor for 15 minutes. Keon Ellis has been playing double figure minutes, but missed the game with an illness that Oats said “wasn't Covid related” and that Ellis “wasn't feeling well so they left him at the hotel so he wouldn't be around the other players.”
Just like most thought the sky was falling after last nights debacle, things weren't miraculously fixed with one win. The rebounding and defense both need to be addressed, as both were still below par. When you make some shots it covers up a lot of other problems, and for the first time this season the Tide hit some shots. Petty is a totally different player when he hits his first few shots. Primo showed flashes of what he is capable of, and should do nothing but get better going forward. The inside trio of Bruner, Rojas, and Reese combined for five points in 57 minutes but had 15 rebounds among them, and are going to have to improve on putting the ball in the basket. Overall a good win with something to build on.
Another quick turn around as the Tide will play Providence tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. CT on ESPN2. Alabama needs another win mainly because there aren't many gimme wins on the schedule.
Ball and Oats