Alabama received some bad news prior to Tuesday night’s home game with Florida as Jahvon Quinerly missed the game, and possibly the next one, with what was only called a medical condition. Quinerly has been playing very well in SEC play. Undeterred, Coach Nate Oats’ team showed a ton of character and defeated nemesis Florida by a score of 86-71 in Coleman on Tuesday night. It was the first home win over the Gators since 2006, breaking a streak of eight straight and 10-12.
The win propels the Tide into sole possession of first place in the SEC with a 3-0 mark, and the team improved to 8-3 overall. Florida dropped 6-2 and 2-1 in conference play. Ever since the Christmas break, Bama has been on a roll corresponding to the disciplinary actions Oats took with John Petty and James Rojas. The 3-0 conference start marks the first time Alabama has reached that mark since the 1986-87 season.
Great screen set by Alex Reese. pic.twitter.com/k33tNNranj— Chicago Gump (@GriffinTSmith) January 6, 2021
The Tide started the quintet of Petty, Herbert Jones, Jaden Shackelford, Jordan Bruner, and Joshua Primo. Primo struggled all night going scoreless after playing several good games in a row. The just turned 18 year old freshman yielded many of his minutes to JUCO transfer Keon Ellis who had a dynamite game.
With 11:11 left in the first half Florida took their biggest lead of the night at 18-14 before Ellis hit his first three pointer of the night. At the break, the Tide led 39-32 despite Jones having limited minutes with three fouls, and without Quinerly at all. In the first half, the Tide was 15-33 from the field, including 5-9 from three point range and only 4-8 from the free throw stripe. Florida hit only 12-32 from the field and was 3-5 from deep and 5-10 from the free throw line at the half. Alabama had 25 rebounds with 11 on the offensive end in the half, while Florida grabbed 17 rebounds.
The Gators came out on fire after the half, and quickly forced Oats to call a timeout when they tied the game up at 39 each. The timeout worked and the Tide went on a 12-2 run to take control of the game. Ellis, Shackelford, and Rojas took control for a several minute period and the lead ballooned from 10 all the way up to 21. Petty and Jones joined in and the Tide put the game on ice with a Jones three, with just under three minutes to play. Oats was once again able to empty the bench in the last couple of minutes - which he has been able to do in all three SEC games.
The second half shooting numbers for the Tide were 16-34 from the field, including only 3-11 from deep, but a very good 12-13 from the free throw line. For the game the team ended up at 46% with 31-67, with 8-20 from three and 16-21 from the free throw line. Florida was 15-36 in the second half with 6-15 from deep and 3-4 from the free throw line. For the game, the Tide’s defense held the Gators to 39% on 27-68 shooting, with 9-25 from three and 8-14 from the stripe. Alabama had 44 rebounds, 15 offensively, dished 12 assists, had 13 turnovers, had six blocks and 10 steals. Florida had 14 assists, 14 turnovers, four blocked and nine steals. The Tide outscored the Gators 46-28 in the paint.
Who Did What?
The Tide had five players in double figures with Shackelford, Jones, and Ellis leading the way with 16. Rojas added a career high 15 and Petty tossed in 12. Ellis won the team’s hard hat award by adding eight rebounds, two assists, and a steal to his point total and ended up with a +30 in plus/minus. Rojas had seven rebounds and Jones added five. Bruner had another low key good game with six points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
You can't say enough about how much this team has turned things around since their early troubles. They are playing as a team, with a different star appearing nightly. Ellis had by far his best game, which coincided with getting more time on the floor with Quinerly out and Primo struggling. Petty has his head on straight after his one game suspension and has done what a senior leader should do. Jones had to do the majority of the ball handling, and worked around foul trouble to do a great job, with help from Primo, Ellis, and Petty. Rojas and Bruner showed a ton of toughness down low. Oats went out of his way to praise senior Alex Reese and his attitude. Reese has been a starter in the past but voluntarily told Oats he would be fine coming off the bench. His effort and toughness have often been questioned during his career, but this season he has gone all out despite a lingering leg injury. Oats said that “this is the most complete game we have played so far. Florida is a very good team and just went to Baton Rouge and beat an excellent LSU team.”
The Tide has played much better the last few games while shooting fewer threes than Oats would prefer. In the Tennessee win, the Tide was 9-20 from deep and tonight they were 8-20. Oats likes them to shoot 30 or more per game, but said “if teams are going to give us layups, we are going to take them.”
Breakfast with the Barn. Alabama travels to Auburn on Saturday to play an 11 a.m. game that will be shown on ESPN2. The Tigers are 0-2 in the league with a game coming up on Wednesday night.
Roll Tide Roll