It was a ..... tale of two halves. With John Petty and James Rojas not available because of “coaches decision” the Crimson Tide slopped around in the first half, trailing for a few minutes of it, before leading by one, 36-35, at the half. Coach Nate Oats said that the two players “should be available for the next game” when Bama hosts Ole Miss on December 29th to open SEC play. A couple of reports mentioned the players and Oats had a disagreement during practice on Sunday, while one said it stemmed from a “fight” between Petty and Oats.
With Petty and Rojas unavailable young freshman Josh Primo received the first start of his Alabama career. Primo joined Herbert Jones, Jahvon Quinerly, Jordan Bruner, and Jaden Shackelford. Primo may have been a little anxious to begin the game as he had three turnovers and two fouls in the first two and half minutes of the game. Jones also had two early fouls and wasn't a factor in the half.
With 1:30 left in the half Oats inserted Jones and his two fouls back in the game. Jones tried to set a pick and was called for his third foul on the first play he was in. The call led to a technical for Oats and ETSU tied the game after making both free throws. The Tide hit 1-2 free throws before the break and took a 36-35 lead into the locker room.
The half was ugly with the Tide playing disjointed and out of sync. With Petty not in the building and Jones in foul trouble the two seniors leaders were not a factor in the period. Bama shot 12-29 from the field with 5-17 from three point range and a bad 7-12 from the free throw line. The Buccaneers shot better at 13-28 with 5-15 from deep and 4-4 from the charity stripe.
In the second half Shackelford took over, finally shooting the ball like everyone has expected all season. The California native finished 8-13 from behind the arc and led the team with 26 points. At around the 10 minute mark, the Tide took control of the game and coasted to the big win. Quinerly, Jones, Keon Ellis, and Juwan Gary all helped out and the bench was emptied at the end. The best moment of the night was when Jahvon Quinerly’s little brother, Jaden Quinerly, entered the game and scored a basket. The younger Quinerly’s hoop led to an explosion of celebration by the players on the bench.
The Tide shot much better from the field in the second half, 17-31 for 55% with 7-17 from deep for 41%, but still struggled at the free throw line, making only 8-14. The Bucs made 11-22 shots, with 4-10 from three and 8-15 from the line in the half. Overall Bama finished 29-60 for 48% and 12-34 from three for 35%, but only 15-26 for 58% at the free throw line. ETSU shot 48% from the field, 36% (9-25) from deep, and were 12-19 for 63% from the stripe.
Alabama finished with 39 rebounds, 20 assists, 12 turnovers, five blocks, and nine steals. East Tennessee had 29 rebounds, 9 assists, 20 turnovers, two blocks, and five steals. Individually, Shackelford finished with 26 points and four rebounds. Quinerly had 14 points and nine assists with only one turnover in his best game of the season. Jones played only 24 minutes with his foul trouble but still managed eight points and six rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and two assists. Bruner had a solid night with eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, and no turnovers. Keon Ellis and Alex Reese contributed seven points each and the electric Juwan Gary tallied six points and four rebounds.
- Shackelford finding his shooting touch
- Quinerly playing like a true point guard
- Bruner contributing in all facets of the game
- Gary bringing hustle and enthusiasm to the floor
- Keon Ellis finding a role and taking advantage of it
- Everyone getting some playing time
- Senior leader John Petty and second year junior James Rojas being unavailable because of their actions
- Everyone not named Jaden Shackelford shooting only 4-21 from three point range
- Continued poor free throw shooting, especially by “good shooters”
- Primo’s bad night after several strong games, finishing with 3 points, three rebounds, and four turnovers.
This was probably the worst team the Tide will play the rest of the season, so a victory was a must. The first half looked like more of the same, but the team turned it on in the second half to pull away, as they should have. The teams three point shooting has been abysmal all season, so the 12 makes tonight was a step forward. However, more than one player is going to have to make them going forward.
After a Christmas break the Tide will open SEC play next Tuesday, December 29th. Bama will host Ole Miss at 8 p.m. CT in a game that can be seen on the SEC Network.
Roll Tide #BallAndOats